Nom de Vine: Humor behind Westport Winery labels

Wine Press NorthwestMarch 7, 2013 

Kim Roberts, who with her husband Blain owns Westport Winery in southwest Washington, admits that her sense of humor and love of word play is an acquired taste, particularly in naming the winery’s long list of wines.

“Not everybody gets us,” Roberts said.

But everybody should appreciate what Roberts and her family have built at the winery between Westport and Aberdeen since 2008. Along with a vineyard, farm and nursery, a sculpture garden and a restaurant and bakery, the winery is producing a line of 33 award-winning fruit and grape wines, each of which raises money for a number of charities in the region. To date, the wines have raised $250,000 for those charities, by Westport’s estimate.

Most recently, Westport added to its wines by adding a second label, Maritime Wines, produced for Nelson Seafood in Tokeland. The crab and seafood processor wanted to sell wines at its shop and approached Roberts, who was ready to say no before she was even asked.

“We’re already as busy as we could be,” she said.

But Nelson had already satisfied a lot of Roberts’ concerns and even had label art ready to go, paintings by Tokeland artist Wally Mann. Nelson Seafood is waiting for a license to sell the wine, so for the time being, Westport is selling and distributing the 200 cases of wine and plans to sell them at the Fred Meyer in Lacey.

Maritime Wines lineup includes Boat Shed Red, a Sangiovese and Petit Sirah blend; Willipa White, a blend of Pinot Gris and Riesling; and Cranberry Coast, a cranberry wine.

As with Westport’s own wines, the Maritime wines are made by the Roberts’ son, Dana. Daughter Carrie, manages the tasting room.

That leaves Kim the duty of naming wines and working with local artists to produce the labels.

To get an idea of her sense of humor, pick up a bottle of Going Coastal sparkling Gewürztraminer, which benefits the Ocean Shores Interpretive Center; Pinot Nirvana, which benefits the Kurt Cobain Memorial Committee; or Surfer’s Last Syrah, aiding the South Beach Emergency Management System.

It can be an involved journey getting to a name and the right charity. Take Duckleberry Grunt, for instance.

Dana Roberts blended huckleberry, blueberry and Gewürztraminer for the wine.

“Everybody has to make this kind of grunting sound when they try to pronounce Gewürztraminer,” Roberts said, which reminded her of huckleberry grunt, a cobbler-like dessert her sister’s mother-in-law made from berries and Wonder Bread.

With proceeds benefitting Ducks Unlimited, the name evolved to Duckleberry Grunt.

The hunting theme plays out on the label with a duck decoy and camouflage.

But all the labels share at least two elements, a lighthouse and water.

“Water is our terroir. Our life revolves around water, so we pay homage to it on every label”, Roberts said.

In addition to aiding area charities, Roberts, a former gallery owner, is serious about supporting local artists. Along with the labels, local artists also are featured in the winery’s sculpture garden. Each of the 33 wines wine is being memorialized with its own sculpture, and 25 are complete and on display. Each sculpture has had its own unveiling ceremony.

“It’s a way to show off our community, be proud of a small but talented arts community,” she said.

It’s all a great deal to be involved in, and Roberts wouldn’t have it any other way.

“This is what happens when ADD goes untreated,” she said.

Wine Press Northwest is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service