Grind Till Ya Shine: An Interview with Kevin Masterman of Rotie Cellars, Proper, Proletariat Wine Co. and House of Bones by Heather Eisenhauer 

Meet Kevin Masterman, the bad-ass winemaker responsible for filling your glass with the tastiest juice from Rotie Cellars, Proper, Proletariat Wine Company, and House of Bones. Masterman graduated from the E&V program in 2013 and has been slaying the Walla Walla wine scene ever since. 

Heather Eisenhauer: Can you please update me on some basic information, including your date of graduation from the EV program, current employer and position, social media handles, and preferred contact details?

Kevin Masterman: I started the EV program in fall of 2010, took a sabbatical to work harvest in Australia and Cali in 2012 and graduated Spring of 2013. I’m the winemaker for Rotie Cellars, Proper, Proletariat Wine Company, and the owner/winemaker of House of Bones.

H.E.: How did you get into wine?

K.M.: It all started with sipping Night Train and Thunderbird in high school, by my young 20’s I moved up to Yellowtail. I started to enjoy and really understand wine while working in the service bar at Rays Boathouse in Seattle. We had a couple really cool somms that took time out of their days to show me the potential of Washington wine and how good wine could be. I left the service industry, got into wine sales, and eventually I found myself in Walla Walla.

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

K.M.: One of my favorite mentors and the first person to give me confidence to make the steps to becoming a winemaker was/is John Abbott. A few alums that I adore are Elizabeth Boucier, Brandon Moss, and Andrew Latta. In my opinion, they are making some of the finest juice in the new world.

H.E. : What’s special to you about working in the wine industry?

K.M.: Being able to be hands on and watch your product/babies go from dirt to bottle is simply amazing. Also, as cliche as it sounds, I don’t ever feel like I’m working. I get to come hang out at an amazing space with an amazing team, and make some juice.

H.E.: What is your favorite part of your job?

K.M.: When folks tell you how much they love what you make, it is one of the most humbling experiences I’ve had.

H.E : What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in the industry?

K.M.: When I was in the E&V program, it was tough getting back into the school/work/life balance after being gone from it for so long.

H.E.: What do you think differentiates and excites you about Washington wine?

K.M. I think we are just hitting the tip of the iceberg with the potential and understanding of what this state can produce. It’s really amazing to watch the progression of Washington wine.

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

K.M.: With climate change affecting the vineyards, I would think you’d just see a shift in varietals. On the social justice front, I think we need to do better and give more to the people and families that farm for us. They work so insanely hard.

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

K.M. : Skin contact whites, Pet-Nats are cool, but they scare the sh*t outta me. Also, the RESURRECTION OF CHARDONNAY!!!

H.E. : What advice can you share with future EV graduates?

K.M. : Grind till ya shine. In all honesty, hard work and good ethic go a long way. Ask questions, listen, and be a good person. 😉 

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