Family. Good Livin’. Damn Fine Wine.
That’s the Sparkman family motto. It not only speaks to Chris Sparkman’s love for wine and the Washington wine industry, but also his love for his family, which he has always put first.
Chris Sparkman got his start in the restaurant industry in the 80’s, working at The Commander’s Palace in New Orleans, alongside a young chef named Emeril Lagasse. After years of travel – working as general manager and sommelier at restaurants across the country, plus a stint in the Peace Corps, and environmental work in DC with the International Whaling Commission – he eventually settled down with his wife, Kelly, in Seattle, Washington. After the birth of their first daughter, Stella Mae, they began to search for an industry that would give Chris more time with his family – thus Sparkman Cellars was launched in 2004.
Sparkman Cellars makes over 30 different wines (only a handful of which are brought into North Carolina). They have a focus on Bordeaux and Rhone varietals, but also use unexpected varietals in their blends, like Touriga Nacional, Tempranillo, and Souzao. When asked why, Chris explains that the Washington wine industry is still so young, they are just now figuring out what can and can’t be grown there, what blends work best, how the different varietals age, etc. It is still a time of experimentation and testing for Washington – and it is evident that he loves being a part of it. In addition to his work with Sparkman Cellars, he also works with the Washington State Wine Commission, and is an advocate for the state’s wine industry everywhere he goes.
Sourcing from some of the best vineyards in Columbia Valley (Olsen, Bacchus, Klipsun, and Ciel du Cheval, to name a few), the wines are made at their winery in Woodinville, just northeast of Seattle. This little town has become a mecca of wine and craft beer, now hosting over 100 wineries and tasting rooms. Sparkman is rising to the top – soon moving into Red Hook Brewery’s previous location, just across the street from Chateau St. Michelle.
From the wide selection of Sparkman wines available here in North Carolina, we offer two blends that represent their fun, experimental style: Wilderness Rhone-style blend (an homage to Chris and Kelly’s environmental backgrounds) and Kindred, their Bordeaux-style blend. Both wines are expressive, lush, and approachable – ready to drink and enjoy right away. Their Birdie Riesling (dry, Alsatian-style, and age-worthy) is also a must. The 2013 Birdie was awarded 94 points, and ranked #7 wine in the world by Wine Enthusiast. Finally, the Holler Columbia Valley Cabernet and Kingpin Red Mountain Cabernet really exemplify how intense and impressive Washington Cabernet Sauvignon can be.
Family. Good Livin’. Damn Fine Wine. Sparkman Cellars is making wine the right way, and getting the acclaim they rightfully deserve. The good livin’ part – the most important, according to Chris – is following right behind.