We might be a bit biased, but our winemakers and grape growers are everyday legends. They have a deep love for what they do, and what their wine can do: bring people together. From biostatisticians to scientists, professional snowboarders to quarterbacks, cattle ranch hands to geologists, bartenders to English teachers, masters of wine to aeronautical engineers, oceanographers to actors, and so many more. There is no shortage of personalities in Washington State, which means there is no shortage of stories. We’re so excited to (re-)introduce you to the character, and characters of Washington State. Below, get to know Andrew Gerow, Gabriel Crowell & Matthew Doutney of Tirriddis, a traditional method sparkling wine winery located in Prosser.
Washington Wine: Andrew, you’re from Michigan, Matt from New York and Gabriel from Europe. How did you all end up in Washington?
Andrew: What kind of makes us unique is none of us are originally from Washington, but we all moved out to Washington to attend the WSU V&E program. Also, none of us have any background in wine. We’re all first-generation wine industry people and just kind of stumbled upon it serendipitously. Honestly, the reason that we came here is because Washington State is the only industry that young people like us can still get into. It just made sense. It’s a great program. It is new but it has some of the best professors in the world. So if we’re trying to do what we’re doing, the WSU Tri-Cities and Tri-Cities, Washington is the only place in the world where we could do it.
Matt: The whole Washington professional wine industry is very commutative too. It’s an unbelievably, I help you, you help me, kind a place. It’s very easy for young people like ourselves to be able to navigate through it because everyone’s so willing to help.
WW: Tell us about how Tirriddis came to be.
Andrew: The three of us graduated from WSU at the height of the pandemic, so we couldn’t do any romantic studying abroad in France or Italy, so we were all joking around and when we hang out we like to eat fried chicken and drink Champagne. Sparkling wine has always been something that we love. And so when it came down to it, we had the opportunity to produce wine at Gabriel’s employer – Four Feathers Wine Services. We did a project through WSU Blended Learning. We made a sparkling wine from the teaching vineyard in collaboration with WSU, Four Feathers and us three, which was successful enough that Four Feathers allowed us to make wine there.
Gabriel: It’s been a collaborative effort between how we want to grow, our ambitions between the three of us, making heartfelt wines that are actionable and drinkable, and working collaboratively with everyone else. It’s been a lot of fun.
WW: Tell us about the name Tirriddis.
Gabriel: When we first started the idea of doing a lot of sparkling wines, we really wanted to make it a pretty cool name. Something that meant a lot and that we could talk to a restaurant in about one minute and they would get the idea of the concept. And that’s when we came up with the idea of naming our sparkling wine, Tirriddis, which is very simple and easy to understand. It’s just a compound word of the three parts that make up the process of turning still wine into sparkling wine with the traditional methods. T-I-R, first three letters is Tirage, this is where we bottle our still base wine from harvest’s production with yeast and sugar. Then we have R-I-D. This is the riddling process. So I always like to explain it to people that if we would just give you a bottled sparkling wine, it would be carbonated, it would be hazy IPA beer, all the yeast would be glass. Then we have D-I-S, the last part of our name and that stands for disgorging. That’s where we actually freeze the yeast and expel that from the bottle leaving you with perfectly sparkling clear wine.
WW: Can you talk a little bit more about why y’all went for Sparkling in Washington, which is not common here?
Matt: One of the less boring, romantic answers is sparkling wine is the fastest growing style of wine in the world right now. But also, we’re three guys who enjoy sparkling wine. And so if we want to be passionate about what we’re doing, what we’re making, what we’re showing to the world, why not do what we most enjoy drinking?
Andrew: And a lot of people are like, oh, Washington can’t grow sparkling wine, but Washington has such a diverse climate that when you go to these more fringe locations there’s some really great sites for sparkling wine. So why not? It’s where our passion lies and showcasing these more fringe areas and really taking Washington to its fullest potential.
WW: Talk about your growth goals or what you think the potential for growth could be for Tirriddis.
Gabriel: I think that we’re in a really interesting position with how sparkling wine is growing and how our partners are growing and how we are trying to grow. We’re in this, not to turn a quick check. We’re not in this to show off to our friends, we’re in this for a legacy business.
Matt: I think it’s difficult for us to predict what our future and what the future of the state is because we’re at such an early stage of Washington sparkling wine. We want to help push Washington into an area where we know it has value and can be, which is making a very high quality sparkling wines.
Andrew: We’re not trying to make champagne out of champagne, we’re trying to make Washington sparkling wine and whatever we can do to grow that category, be it ourselves or helping other sparkling wine producers as well, it’s advantageous to us either way. We’re currently growing pretty quickly and we hope to continue growing.
WW: Tirriddis has a tasting room, and you also have a heavy focus on restaurants is that correct?
Andrew: Our goal is to be more consumer focused. So if there are consumers that are wanting sparkling wine, we’re going to do our best to provide it for them.
Gabriel: Getting our wines in restaurants is something we’re really passionate about doing because where you eat, where you drink is critical, It’s a place of community. It kind of formed our ambition to create our House series, which are the wines that you see in Seattle or at restaurants or all around the Columbia Valley.
WW: Speaking of community, you three also own a wine shop in the Tri-Cities – Non-Vintage Wines. Tell us about it.
Matt: Here in Tri-Cities, not a lot of people drink a lot of international wines, which makes sense because you’re surrounded by some of the best wines in the country that are very accessible to you. It doesn’t really make sense for you to venture out to Italy or France or Austria or wherever. But a lot of people seemed very open to trying it, which was kind of our idea when we wanted to open this place was people drink a Red Mountain Bordeaux blend. But have you ever tried Bordeaux?
Andrew: We’re in the heart of Washington wine country, and best way to experience a bottle is experiencing it at the winery that it’s made at. There’s not real point in competing with that. But we showcase small local producers, and the main focus is on international wines so people can get that exposure to the history and the world of wine.
WW: Well we know this whole friendship started over fried chicken and Champagne. But if you had to choose a different food and drink pairing to consume for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Gabriel: I think I would have authentic Mexican fajitas with sparkling wine or light beer, or probably both.
Andrew: I’m torn between two things. A good Italian sandwich or a good Gyro with a Washington sparkling wine.
Matt: I could probably do hot dogs the rest of my life. Being from New York, I grew up on them and have them all the time. And if champagne’s not an answer, I’d definitely go with some iced tea, something along those lines.
WW: Hotdogs the rest of your life! You and my five-year-old agree on that.
Are you a winemaker or have your hands in making Washington Wine? We’d love to hear from you! Get in touch with Heather Bradshaw at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll set up a time to chat so we can share your story with the world.