Good ideas often rise out of the ashes. And those fearless enough to act on a new beginning usually are rewarded for their boldness.
Such is the case of Brock and Erica Lindsay, owners of Succession Wines on the north shore of Washington’s Lake Chelan. As a rising star in the fast-growing Washington wine industry, Succession is this year’s Washington Winery to Watch.
Succession, led by self-taught winemaker Brock Lindsay, first caught our attention last year with two unanimous double gold medals plus four gold medals at the Wenatchee Wine Awards competition. All six wines also were awarded best of class. Succession followed this up with two Platinum awards in Wine Press Northwest’s 2017 best-of-the-best judging. All in all, a stunning showing for a winery releasing its first wines.
Their first release was of red wines from the 2013 vintage, followed by white wines from 2015. The 2014 vintage was interrupted by the horrendous Carlton Complex wildfire that consumed a quarter-million acres and more than 300 homes, including the Lindsay house. Adding to the strain, Erica had just given birth to the couple’s first child when the fire struck.
Rather than be discouraged from pursuing their dreams, they were more determined than ever. Life is too short to shelve your dreams. Brock, a civil engineer who builds bridges (including the new Highway 520 bridge and the Manette Bridge in Bremerton). He became interested in wine culture while studying abroad in Italy during college. From there, wine became a hobby that got out of control. The couple met when Erica picked up Brock in a Seattle bar. Turns out they lived in the same neighborhood, and the rest was destiny.
Erica’s family had a cabin in Chelan, so she grew up spending many happy summers along the lakeshore. When the two decided to escape the traffic and rat race of Seattle, Chelan seemed like a solid choice, especially with the burgeoning wine industry and lots of built-in tourism. After the wildfire, they decided family and dreams come first, so the next logical succession was to launch a winery.
That first release was a mere 600 cases, barely enough to fill the hoses at some large wineries. But thanks to access to top vineyards in Lake Chelan, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley and the Columbia Valley, Brock produced some stellar wines. Wine lovers quickly recognized the quality and grabbed every last bottle, mostly through Succession’s wine club (still the best way to ensure access to wines from any top winery.)
This caused a conundrum of sorts: The Lindsays sold every last drop. It sounds like a nice problem to have, except then you have nothing to show potential customers and fans who stop by your winery. It was a problem easily solved when they increased their second release to 1,400 cases. Their next bottling this spring will be about 2,100 cases, a ramping up of production that puts the Lindsays in position for rapid growth.
As Brock handles production, Erica stays busy as the mother of two little girls, handling the business side of a growing operation. She also is executive director of the Lake Chelan Wine Alliance, applying her experience as an executive at a tech company in Seattle.
This young couple continues to build upon their dream. Their winery sits on 5 acres, and this spring, they’re planting their first block of estate Syrah vines. In addition, Brock manages Antoine Creek Vineyards near Pateros, an 18-acre site considered by some to be one of the true hidden gems in Washington wine country — plus it’s a consistent source for top red and white grapes for Succession.
Brock is continuing his education through Washington State University’s viticulture and enology program. His background in engineering certainly is helpful because that education included science and critical thinking — useful traits in winemaking. He doesn’t even mind the long drives from north central Washington to the heart of the Columbia Valley.
“It’s better than traffic in Seattle,” he said with a grin. “It’s just a lot prettier drive over here.”
He enjoys the camaraderie of the wine industry, finding that most folks want to be helpful.
And he’s not taking his early success for granted, particularly his medals for his first wines.
“That was amazing — when you put your heart and soul into something and somebody else thinks it’s pretty good, too,” he said.
ANDY PERDUE is the wine columnist for The Seattle Times and was the founding editor of Wine Press Northwest.
This story was originally published March 19, 2018 12:00 AM.