Since their first vintage in 1997, Betz Family Winery had a single-minded goal: crafting compelling wines with individual character that are approachable and ageworthy, and which showcase Washington as a distinguished wine region of the world.
Today, Betz family Winery is headed by two families,the Betz and Griessel families, both committed to being true to their heritage, their family members, and true to what Betz winery embodies: wines of dimension and pleasure, wines that allow the character of Washington to shine through. They are a blend of the best elements of the new and the old worlds; full ripe fruit and yet structured for longevity.
In 1974, Bob and Cathy Betz completed their year of training in vineyards of France, Italy, and Germany. In 1975, Bob began his 28 year career at Chateau St. Michelle, becoming its Vice President for Winemaking Research in 1984.
In 1998, Bob received his Master of Wine degree, one of only 278 MW's in the world. Bob received the Robert Mondavi Award for the highest scores in all theory exams and the Villa Maria Award for the highest scores in the viticultural exam.
In 1997, Bob and Cathy Betz crushed their first vintage of Betz Family wines with 150 cases. The wines were made in the warehouse district of Woodinville, with help from their volunteer friends. Then in 2005, they built their own state-of-the-art winery in Woodinville.
In 2007, Bob is named as Sunset Magazine's Wine Maker of the Year.
In 2008, the Betz Family Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 is named Washington's Number One Wine of the Year by the Seattle Times wine critic, Paul Gregutt.
In 2011,this award-winning team sold Betz Family Winery to Steve and Bridgit Griessel, with Bob remaining as the winery's "patriarch" and winemaker for the next 5 years.
In 2014, Pere de Famille 2010 is ranked #6 in the World in Wine Enthusiast Top 100 Cellar Selections.
Betz Family winemaking starts in the vineyard. They partner with a small collection of select growers in specific vineyards to source fruit to meet their quality and stylistic goals. In each vineyard, they collaborate with their growers on specific varieties in specific geographical sites, each identified for its specific combination of soils, aspect, sunlight and temperatures. To yield the highest quality grapes, they work side by side with their growers on the best practices, whether it's pruning, thinning, changing the canopy or varying the vine nutrition.
Betz Family Winery sources their grapes from some of the top vineyards in Washington State: sites that are equal parts ideal location, intelligent care and hard work. All their grapes come from Washington's Columbia Valley Appellation and smaller appellations within it: The Yakima Valley, the Horse Heaven Hills and Red Mountain. They work with winegrowers that allow them to designate their specific rows and farm them cooperatively. Growers that see the fruit, not as an end product, but as a transition stage from the earth to the bottle. This attitude affects the way they care for the land, tend their vines, and meet the needs of Betz Family Winery.
Horse Heaven Hills
Alder Ridge Vineyard – One of the state's largest - 1,000 acres – and most diverse vineyards. Its highest point is just over 1,000 feet. The Columbia River moderates extremes of temperature in winter and summer, helps keep the vineyard cooler during the growing season, and extends the ripening period. One acre of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot dedicated to Betz Family wines. Other varietals include Merlot and Grenache.
Ciel du Cheval – This vineyard is situated at the base of Red Mountain. One difference from other vineyards is the canopy of some of the more recent plantings (1994-on): vines are trained on a fan system while most of the others are planted on a bilateral cordon. While this system creates a larger canopy, it shields the grapes from the intense Red Mountain heat, allowing sugar maturity and physiological maturity to develop synergistically. Varietals include: two acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, one acre of Merlot, lesser amounts of Cabernet Franc, Mourvedre, Syrah, and Petite Verdot.
Klipsun Vineyard - Acclaimed as one of the world's outstanding vineyards by Wine & Spirits Magazine, a few specific rows of Cabernet Sauvignon in both the new and old blocks at Klipsun Vineyard have been designated for Betz Family since 1997. Planted to mostly bi-lateral cordon, the vines have a tight canopy with a focus on keeping the foliage to a minimum, especially on the morning side of the vine. Klipsun Vineyard is a naturally warm site with, this gives great sun exposure to both the vines and clusters, providing consistent ripening and keeping disease threat low. The Cabernet Sauvignon contributes tannin, structure and backbone to their wines. On the nose we find the black fruits and deep cherry that Red Mountain is known for. This is wonderful fruit, loaded with intensity and power.
Scott Williams' Vineyard – The Betz Family Winery contracts Syrah grapes from Scott Williams of Kiona Winery, one of the highest altitude sites on Red Mountain. Because of its altitude and heat accumulation, the grapes here always ripen deeply, providing the winery with the material to craft a hedonistic Syrah with a high 'yum' factor. It forms the foundation of their Syrah La Côte Rousse. This site delivers wines that are plush and can stand-alone: they require minimal work in the cellar and at the blending table.
Boushey Vineyard – Located on the outskirts of Grandview, this mid-valley, cooler site is a great asset to their portfolio of vineyards. And it's managed by one of the most affable, dedicated growers in the state. Dick Boushey is driven to take his fruit to the highest levels in Washington, and he's succeeding. You'll often find his grapes in the highest acclaimed wines from the appellation. Betz Family's La Serenne is 100% from the Syrah's at Dick Boushey's vineyard. The Syrah grapes are in a spot where the soils thin out and do not produce a large crop. The grapes are small, thick-skinned, and loaded with flavor.
Red Willow Vineyard - This is the farthest west and highest altitude vineyard in the Yakima Valley. Due to it's higher elevation, 1200-1300 feet, the area was above the water level of the last Ice Age floods so the soils are more ancient and weaker than many younger soils in the Columbia Valley. Vines struggle here, but they are tended by one of the most dedicated farming families in Washington. Red Willow grows Cabernet Sauvignon (1973 and 1990 plantings), Syrah (1986 planting), and Merlot for Betz Family wines.
DuBrul Vineyard - This vineyard is on a steep, rocky, south-facing hillside in the Yakima Valley. It was planted in 1992, has 45 acres under vine, and grows six varietals – some in differing soils. Over time, wind-blown loess and volcanic ash have mixed with flood borne rocks to create low vigor soils. The southeast triangle is alluvial soil covering layers of coarse-grained pyroclastic rocks.
Upland Vineyard - Farming wine grapes since 1968, four generations of the Newhouse family have helped maintain the Upland legacy. Originally planted by William B. Bridgman in 1917. Slopes facing in all four directions and an elevation that ranges from 750 to 1,300 feet. Grows a wide range of wine grapes on over 700 acres in some of the oldest and most diverse soils in Washington. Varieties include: Aligote, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Gewurtzraminer, Graciano, Grenache, Malbec, Melon, Merlot, Morio Muscat, Mouvedre, Mueller Thurgau, Muscat of Alexandria, Muscat Hamburg, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Souzao, Syrah, Tempranillo, Tinta Madiera, Tinta Cao, Touriga Nacional, Viognier, Zinfandel, and others.
"Owned by the Griessel family since 2011, Betz Family Winery still has Washington State’s incredible ambassador of Bob Betz firmly involved in the winery, with the wines made by the talented Louis Skinner since 2013. This is an undeniable reference point estate for the Washington State and the wines go from strength to strength. Today, they are at the top of the hierarchy in just about every vintage. In addition, while it would be easy to sit back and maintain the status quo at an established estate like this, they continue to push for improvements in quality at every level, purchasing an optical sorting machine in 2015, creating a second wine, doing an even more strict selection for their top cuvées, and experimenting with stems in the ferments as well as with different sizes (and types) of vessels in their vinification and aging regimes. This is a terrific, world-class estate that readers need to try, and both the 2014s and 2015s are incredible wines."
- Jeb Dunnuck (April 2018)