Five Star Cellars has focused on producing high-quality Walla Walla wines for more than 20 years. Matt Huse, a Walla Walla native, switched from construction to winemaking back in 2002 and hasn’t looked back since taking over the reins from his father, Dave Huse. Five Star Cellars’ humble start began with 120 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon produced in 2000, but today this family operation offers a compelling mix of single varietal red wines as well as several intriguing red blends that all showcase the incredible fruit and bold wines crafted in the Walla Walla Valley.
Keith Wymetalek: Can you please update me with some basic information, including your date of graduation from the EV program, current employer and position, social media handles, and preferred contact details?
KW: How did you get into wine?
MH: I got into wine by being around the industry while working in construction for a company that was building wineries at the same time that my dad started Five Star Cellars. That’s when I decided to enroll in the Enology & Viticulture program at Walla Walla Community College.
KW: Is there someone in the EV world that you admire, including fellow EV alums?
MH: There are three people that I admire in the wine industry. Myles Anderson helped me get started. The late Stan Clarke taught me what he knew about enology and viticulture. And Norm McKibben, who helped Five Star get the fruit that we still work with today.
KW: What’s special to you about working in the wine industry?
MH: I love that I get to work with all of the great vineyard managers. Every day is different.
KW: What is your favorite part of your job?
MH: I like that I get to be outdoors and not stuck inside all day. I like visiting the vineyards and checking on the fruit.
KW: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in the industry?
MH: Some of the challenges recently are glass shortages, inflation, and market saturation.
KW: What do you think differentiates and excites you about Washington wine?
MH: The dark, rich, complex wines that Washington produces at great values set us apart.
KW: How do you foresee climate change or social issues affecting the local industry in the next few years?
MH: Every growing season is different and has its own challenges. Being able to adapt and still make a consistent wine is my goal.
KW: What are some up-and-coming trends in wine that you’re following?
MH: I am a “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” kind of guy. And what we are doing has been working great.
KW: What advice can you share with future EV graduates?
MH: I would tell future graduates to enjoy what you do, but to make sure that it is what you want to do.