Winemakers Tad and Sarah Fewel grew up in the Yakima Valley. They know this sunny hill country well. Both come from orchard farming families. Sarah’s great-grandfather arrived from Scotland and immediately started the pear orchard that has been in her family for the last 100 years. Tad still works on his family’s Triple T Orchards in Zillah and runs the farm’s bio diesel plant. The vegetable oil fuel is used to run Cultura’s vineyard equipment and they call their personal mix Bio-Fewel.
Several years ago, as grapevines started to replace apple trees, the couple began to develop an interest in winemaking. It quickly grew into a passion. “The Yakima Valley terroir is capable of producing some of the best wines in the world and we wanted to see what we could do,” Sarah says. “The whole process, from growing the grapes to making the wine, is just so interesting and so challenging. Every year is different.”
Sarah was formerly the tasting room manager for Sheridan Vineyard. She has also worked as a cellar rat, did vineyard work, fruit sampling and helped with blends, the crush process and bottling for other wineries. Meanwhile Tad tended the soil, planting a few acres of Cabernet Franc and experimenting with old European-style pruning techniques on an acre of Zinfandel, a rarity in the Yakima Valley AVA.
Cultura released its first vintage in 2005, producing about 180 cases. By 2008 they were up to 600 cases.
“We don’t want to get too big,” Sarah says. “We want to be able to continue doing it all ourselves.”
This hands-on, old world approach is reflected in every bottle of Cultura, expressing the winemakers’ gusto for life and an appreciation for how nature shapes the wines they make.
Yakima Valley Wine Country
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