Tom Lubbesmeyer (TL): 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?
Beth Law (BL): I graduated in June 2021 and double majored with an associate degree in both EV and Accounting. I’m co-owner of Lacewing Cellars. Instagram: ScruffyHeadWine; Facebook: Lacewing Cellars, Scruffy Head Wine; e-mail: email@example.com
TL: How did you get into wine?
BL: It’s really my husband who got me into it. He graduated from the EV program in 2018 and together we planted our vineyard, Fool’s Prairie, north of Spokane. After a while, I wanted to learn more about what we were doing on the viticulture side and decided to enter the EV program myself in 2019.
TL: Is there someone in the EV world that you admire, including fellow EV alums?
BL: I’d say that I really admire my husband. He graduated from the EV program after a long army career, and then in addition to managing his own vineyard and label, became an instructor in the EV program in 2020. Here we are three years later, and he’s the one constant in the EV program through all the changes that have happened in the last few years. I think he’s one of the hardest-working people I know.
TL: What’s special to you about working in the wine industry?
BL: I feel like specifically to Walla Walla there’s real support and collaboration amongst winemakers. If you put out the call like “I need barrels”, “I need glass”, “has anybody had this happen?” “anybody going to Portland?”, or whatever, people generally help you out. It could be a very competitive, backbiting business, but instead, everybody maintains a sense of respect for each other and supports each other. That’s what I really like about the Walla Walla wine industry. It’s very collaborative.
TL: What is your favorite part of your job?
BL: I really like coming up with label and brand ideas. It’s my thing, and I didn’t know it until I did one and it turned out to be really successful. Scruffy Head is my concept. I attribute some of the success of that label to having taken Nicole McCauley’s marketing class. For instance, our designer was one of the guest speakers in the class.
TL: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in the industry?
BL: Launching a brand at the tail of covid was hard. People’s expectations of tastings changed. They went from not being able to get into tasting rooms and being very used to online purchases, to very structured tasting room experiences as things opened up. We decided not to open a tasting room and without a tasting room, it’s very hard to entice customers to buy your wine. We underestimated the power of having a tasting room.
TL: What do you think differentiates and excites you about Washington wine?
BL: My one-word answer is opportunity. It doesn’t matter where you come from, there is a place for you. Tim in the EV program always said that not everyone has to be a winemaker. If what you want to do is marketing, managing a tasting room, or working in a vineyard, there’s a place for you. I feel like the Washington wine industry offers so many opportunities. Two people like me and Leonard can come in and make wine in retirement alongside great winemakers coming in and starting up large facilities. There’s room for everybody.
TL: How do you foresee climate change or social issues affecting the local industry in the next few years?
BL: I think we need to think about changing our watering practices and canopy management to accommodate what could be perpetual high-heat events. How do we get good yields and high-quality fruit when we constantly have heat domes?
TL: What are some up-and-coming trends in wine that you’re following?
BL: One trend I’m following is alcohol values. For a while here in Washington it seemed everybody wanted big, bold, just under 16% alcohol. But the trend nationally is for lower, more approachable wine. Another trend I’m going to watch is the color of rose. It seems like the trend has been to go for pretty colors, at least here in Washington, but our distributor has been telling us that he wants our Scruffy Head rose to be a lighter color as that’s the preference on the east coast.
TL: What advice can you share with future EV graduates?
BL: The wine industry is not one size fits all. Find the part of it you’re passionate about, whether it’s marketing, the vineyard, or the cellar. There’s opportunity for everybody in the wine industry, just choose what you’re passionate about.