Down the "row" of Woodinville, Washington wineries-in-warehouses, near our old friends at Mark Ryan, is Chris Sparkman's (or Sparky, as he is called) Sparkman Cellars. Chris is one of those super talented winemakers whose delightful love of life comes through in the names and styles of his big red wines.
A Seattle transplant, Chris was born and raised on the east coast, and still sports a southern accent from his Nashville roots. First in Washington DC and New Orleans, then in Seattle, he was a sommelier and wine buyer at great restaurants, ending up at Seattle's Waterfront Grill as general manager for six years.
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As a noted sommelier, Chris got to know the vintners who visited the Grill. Tasting their wines and making what would become close friendships, he caught the winemaking bug. Over the next few years, he gradually shifted to a career as a fulltime winemaker - via our friend Mark McNeilly, the generous owner of Mark Ryan. Mark McNeilly has helped several talented winemakers in Woodinville's warehouse row to get started - and Chris has been one of the most successful.
at right, Chris, Kelly, Stella Mae, and Ruby Leigh Sparkman
Chris's first vintages (2004-2006) were made with Mark at the Mark Ryan warehouse space. Sparkman Cellars moved into their own space for the 2007 vintage. In the tradition of his friends up and down the row, Chris hunts down and grabs some first-class grapes from Yakima and Walla Walla Valley vineyard every year. His wines are big and bold, with his own trademark style. Big yet refined, his zest for life shows through in every sip.
Below, Kiona Vineyard in the Red Mountain AVA, where Chris gets much of his fruit
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