The Ambitious Love a Challenge: an Interview with Josh McDaniels of Bledsoe Wine Estate by Leopold Frokic

In this interview, we chat with Josh McDaniels, CEO & Director of Winemaking at Bledsoe Wine Estates of Walla Walla Valley, where he makes his home. Leopold Frokic is a 2nd year EV Program Student who had a successful career as a Sommelier in the roaring 1990s and 2000s in New York City, a life-long wine lover and collector, and husband and father, who makes his home in Walla Walla, where he is an avid gardener and chicken-dad.

Leopold Frokic: Josh, can you update us on some basic information, such as your EV graduation date, current position, social media handle, and preferred contact details?

Josh McDaniels: I graduated in 2009, and currently work for Bledsoe Wine Estates, where I am the CEO and Director of Winemaking. 

LF: How did you get into wine?

JM: I started my own winery while I was in high school as a way to make extra money and found out I really liked all parts of the industry and it proliferated. 

LF: Is there someone in the EV world that you admire, including fellow EV alums?

JM: I have always admired Gary Figgins – a real American Success Story, and he really helped me out early on in my career.  I have hired a number of Alums to work for us and I also admire them.

LF: What’s special to you about working in the wine industry?

JM:  I love the competitive nature of the industry and the constant challenges in different ways – land development, farming, winemaking, sales, finance, management, etc. 

LF: What is your favorite part of your job?

JM:  The best part is getting to work in all parts of the industry, and getting inspired by others. 

LF: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in the industry?

JM:  Mother Nature is always there to keep you in check from Phylloxera to fall frosts.  Lately, the supply chain has been very challenging also.

LF: What do you think differentiates and excites you about Washington wine?

JM:  It’s an exciting industry with so much potential for greatness.  It is extremely diverse and we still have the ability to be able to develop vineyards and brands here while maintaining water rights and having less relative governmental roadblocks.

LF: How do you foresee climate change or social issues affecting the local industry in the next few years?

JM: As far as climate change, I see a lot of outside investment coming our way as larger companies diversify their business and look to places that still have opportunity.

LF: What are some up-and-coming trends in wine that you’re following?

JM: Sparkling wine is hot and is something I’ve always wanted to do. I am also looking at alternative packaging and am involved in a separate project in that realm. 

LF: What advice can you share with future EV graduates?

JM: Be open-minded, get out of the social echo chambers we are all experiencing, and never stop learning. 

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