A Climate of Excellence

Family Owned. Estate Grown.

Andrew WilsonWinemakerGoose Ridge Estate Winery

Interview By Lisa Gmur, CSW

Washington State is the 2nd largest premium wine producer in the United States. There are more than 1000 wineries and currently 16 AVA’s. Washington State’s first grapes were actually planted in 1825 and continued to grow in varietal as European settlers arrived.

However, the first large scale plantings didn’t start until the 1960’s and the majority of the growth in the state has taken place over the last thirty years. Columbia Valley is the largest wine growing region in Washington and that is where we find Andrew Wilson, winemaker for Goose Ridge Winery.

I talked with Andrew about everything from his wanting to be an Astronaut (he grew up in Florida near the Kennedy Space Center) to his “Aha” wine moment (it was down under) and his favorite cuisine (think Rosé).

Andrew Wilson, Winemaker, Goose Ridge Estate

The Interview

The Mark Wine Group

Hi Andrew thanks for joining me! Let's open with the basics so our readers can get to know you. Where did you grow up and what was special about it?

Andrew Wilson

I was born in Indiana, to a family of Hoosiers, and moved to Florida when I was 4. I grew up in a small town in a part of central Florida filled with orange groves and cattle pastures, was great.  We moved again to Sarasota, where I went to high school.

The Mark Wine Group

Orange groves and cattle pastures. Hmmm. So, did you want to be a farmer when you grew up?  

Andrew Wilson

As a young kid, I wanted to be an astronaut.  We could see Space Shuttle and rocket launches from our back yard in Florida, so being fascinated by it was a given.

As I got older, I wanted to be a soldier, architect, and then engineer. So, I compromised and became a winemaker.

The Mark Wine Group

<laughs> We will definitely get back to that. What do your parents do?

Andrew Wilson

My mom is a Radiologist (retired) and my dad is a writer / baseball historian.

The Mark Wine Group

Okay, so the wine thing?

Andrew Wilson

I have an AA in Enology and Viticulture from Walla Walla Community College.

I’m a firm believer that once wine has captured your fascination, you never really ever stop studying wine.

The Mark Wine Group

Absolutely. We all constantly read and taste. Did you have that “Aha” moment everyone always talks about?

Andrew Wilson

When I had a bottle of 2001 Shirvington Shiraz, I was awakened to the idea that wine could, at its best, display many balancing tensions that create a unique voice and character. 

That wine had so much silkiness, concentration, and power that I knew I wanted to learn how to create wines with a similar type of expression.

The Mark Wine Group

Ooh. That takes me back to McLaren Vale Summer 2004. It was cold and rainy. Winter in Seattle. Tell me more about your life.

Andrew Wilson

<Laughs> I met Kevin in Walla Walla when he moved from Seattle to start a boutique clothing company. We married in 2017. We both love being outdoors, especially on the water.

We have become quite avid kayakers and paddle boarders.  We will make day trips to lakes and rivers all over the PNW (Pacific Northwest) to enjoy different waterways.

I also enjoy fitness, hiking, and am a very amateurish photographer.

The Mark Wine Group

Well, you definitely live in the perfect spot for all those things. Do you have kids?

Andrew Wilson

Not yet!

The Mark Wine Group

Do you have pets?

Andrew Wilson

Yes, three dogs, Jade is a 10 year old Lab Retriever. Bernard is a 9 year old Bernese Mountain Dog and Arthur is a 2 year old Vizsla.

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Doing what they do best.
Winemakers Andrew Wilson and Peter Devison tasting through the 2020 reds.

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The Mark Wine Group

That’s a full house. I am sure a lot of culinary activities going on. What do you guys like to eat?

Andrew Wilson

Regarding my favorite foods to prepare I would say French Provencal such as bouillabaisse, ratatouille. I love good Pizza too!

The Mark Wine Group

Do you have a favorite food & wine pairing?

Andrew Wilson

It’s a little hackneyed, but I like to drink wines that I enjoy with my favorite foods (as long as they don’t conflict terribly).

Pairings I especially enjoy are fresh oysters and Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, Lamb Chops and Vacqueyras, and Grand Marnier soufflé with Sauterne.

The Mark Wine Group

I totally get all of those and you have me intrigued on the last one. I am not a big dessert fan, but I have been eating Grand Marnier Souffle since I was 7 and I have never  tried it with Sauterne. Bucket list  for sure. So do you have a favorite grape varietal?

Andrew Wilson

Grenache! I love the elegance and personality of the variety and I think that it grows particularly well at Goose Ridge.

We only grow and produce a very small amount, but I love working with the variety.

Grenache and Grenache-based Rhone blends are also my favorite wines to drink.

The Mark Wine Group

I am a huge fan of Grenache too. What’s the most important thing you would like us to know about Goose Ridge?

Andrew Wilson

As a multi-generational, family company, taking the time to do things with the proper foundation and with respect to tradition is a core principle at the vineyard and winery.

Goose Ridge is a very special site and every I do is focused on reflecting its uniqueness and history.

The Mark Wine Group

And what is the most interesting thing about Goose Ridge?

Andrew Wilson

Goose Ridge is currently operated and managed by the 3rd generation of the Monson family to be involved in Yakima Valley agriculture with the 4th generation also heavily involved in managing the business.

The Monson Family, Valerie, Bill, and Molly Monson

The Mark Wine Group

Yes, I remember from when we visited. So, what’s your favorite part of your job?

Andrew Wilson

All of the wines produced at Goose Ridge are 100% from our estate vineyard. It is fun and challenging to design winemaking procedures and assemble blends to make sure that all of our wines have a unique profile and also reflect the unique characteristics of the estate.

The Mark Wine Group

Part of that is the whole Washington State uniqueness, right?

Andrew Wilson

Definitely. The Washington wine industry has grown remarkably in the last 20 years, but in many ways, we are still in the early stages of the industry’s development.

Winemakers everywhere experiment with techniques, we learn to deal with new challenges every vintage, and vineyards and varieties are being planted in new parts of the state.

We’re on the frontier of winemaking and I love how dynamic the industry is.

The Mark Wine Group

How do feel about wine closures? Do you prefer Stelvin or cork to seal your wines?

Andrew Wilson

In general I prefer natural corks, but there are certainly applications for many different types of closures.

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The Mark Wine Group

How about wine kegs?

Andrew Wilson

I think having wine in kegs for serving wines by the glass is a wonderful thing.

Reducing the need for packaging wherever possible is the most sensible and sustainable strategy, so matching the wine’s packaging with its intended use only makes sense.

Different packaging does certainly require some adjustments to winemaking to avoid quality issues, but I believe it is a trade-off worth making.

The Mark Wine Group

Do you have a favorite grape you like to work with?

Andrew Wilson

I enjoy working with our estate Riesling, Syrah, Grenache, and Merlot. Merlot is especially interesting since it has such a unique minerality.

I also like working with the Red Rhone varietals. They show both the site’s and the winemaker’s personality.

The Mark Wine Group

Do you like to travel?

Andrew Wilson

Yes! I love traveling and would love to be able to do more of it. I love learning and seeing the history of different places.

It is also fun to learn about a place through their cuisine (and wine, if there is a local wine industry).

The Mark Wine Group

Hopefully we will all get to travel more soon. Do you have a favorite getaway spot?

Andrew Wilson

I love the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. It has such a primal, untouched and ancient feel to it that is beautiful and awe-inspiring.

Olympic National Park, Ruby Beach, Washington

The Mark Wine Group

That’s convenient. Especially given the current situation. You really don’t have to go far to enjoy spectacular beauty in Washington.

The vineyards at Goose Ridge are pretty fabulous. To have it be part of your job is pretty cool. 

Andrew Wilson

Yes! I am very fortunate that the Goose Ridge winery sits in the middle of our estate vineyard.

It is easy for me to find a little time to leave the bustle of the winery and reconnect with the wines and feel more in touch with what’s happening in the vineyard.

The Mark Wine Group

I imagine you do spend quite a lot of time in the winery tasting your wines.

Andrew Wilson

I taste barrel samples of our wines constantly with our winemaking team. We are always tasting, evaluating, and assembling blends.

Andrew tasting through the barrel samples

The Mark Wine Group

How do you know when a wine is ready for bottle?

Andrew Wilson

One other benefit of working with only our estate fruit is that you learn to judge how it develops over time.

Vintages certainly present different profiles in the wines, which require some adjustments when blending and deciding when to bottle, but overall, we have found that our wines develop fairly consistently from one year to the next and can plan for bottling based on how wines have performed in the past.

We are also committed to allowing wines to age in bottle prior to release until they are completely recovered from the bottling process and have matured past their awkward early bottle age.

The Mark Wine Group

No one likes the awkward stage in anything, so we totally get and love that. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us.

Andrew Wilson

A total pleasure. Thank you.