Olympic Cellars’ carefree, fun Working Girl wines are on a mission to rescue working women everywhere after a long day in pantyhose and pumps! Each wine in the series was created to be distinct, yet affordable and has “her” own unique personality. The wines are made from grapes sourced at the vineyards of Sagemoor, Paul Champoux, Aldercreek and Coventry Vale, in the Yakima Valley of Washington State.
Working Girl White is a sassy,
no-nonsense blend of Chardonnay and Riesling, while Go Girl Red is
a wonderfully lush
little number with the power to turn a gunnysack into velvet. And Rosé the
Riveter, well she just rocks like her namesake from the 1940s.
In 1979, a retired grape-grower from California, Gene Neuharth, opened the Neuharth Winery in Sequim, a small town on Washington’s picturesque Olympic Peninsula. It was one of the first 15 wineries in the state, and the first on the peninsula. The winery became known for its fine dinner wines, such as Chardonnay & Merlot.
When Neuharth passed away in 1993, his assistant winemaker, Dan Caudill, took over the winery and changed its name to Olympic Cellars. A highway bypass project around Sequim led Caudill to move the winery to a new location, a century-old dairy barn alongside the main peninsula highway, State Route 101, in the city of Port Angeles, which is 9 miles west of Sequim. At the time, a small group of investors, including Texas Instruments Executive Kathy Charlton and her husband, Ralph, owned the barn and land. Caudill brought the owners a proposal to convert the barn into a winery. The first step, bringing the structure up to code, required major renovations. The owners agreed to help finance the renovation project, which was completed in two years. In 1998, Olympic Cellars became the revived barn’s new occupant. Despite the new location, the winery ran into financial problems.
Ralph and Kathy Charlton and Ron & Mary Freytag stepped in to buy the winery from Caudill in 1999. They took over operations while still living in Dallas. Ralph & Ron kept the business going, working part-time on site. Then in 2001, Kathy, a human resources executive, took early retirement from Texas Instruments after 25 years. The Charltons packed their bags and headed for their new home and now fully-owned winery on the Olympic Peninsula.
A New Direction
Olympic Cellars became officially woman-owned and operated under Kathy’s leadership in January 2002, freeing Ralph to turn his attention back to his own marketing business. Sara Gagnon had stayed on as winemaker throughout the change in ownership, and together she and Kathy started taking the winery in a new direction. Molly Rivard came aboard to manage the tasting room, and locals affectionately began referring to the dynamic trio as the “Olympic Women in Wine.”
One day, while researching women and wine on the Internet, Kathy came across the website of Texas artist Kathy Womack. Womack had painted a “Women in Wine™ series”. One of the paintings – three women, obviously old friends, all dressed-up in their “going out” clothes, laughing and enjoying each other’s company over a glass of wine – struck Kathy as embodying the spirit and future of Olympic Cellars. She purchased the painting for the tasting room, and from that moment women became the focus of Olympic Cellars’ marketing efforts.
Knowing that wine can be intimidating for those who don’t consider themselves connoisseurs, Kathy was determined to reinvent the Olympic Cellars winery as a fun, friendly place where women (and men!) can savor a glass of wine without the pretension of a snooty wine bar. Olympic Cellars’ overriding philosophy is that wine should be enjoyed, and Kathy encourages women in particular, to take some time from their busy schedules to celebrate the fruits of their labors with good friends over good wine.
The winery imparts this philosophy through its approachable, affordable wines designed to appeal to women, its comfortable yet stylish tasting room conducive to intimate conversation and retail shop full of unique girlfriend-centric “must haves” – such as chocolate.
Wines for the Drinking
Still, the star attractions are the wines. The Working Girl™ series is a salute to working women everywhere! These everyday wines -- Working Girl White, Go Girl Red, and Rosé the Riveter -- are for sharing with colleagues, friends and family after a long day in pantyhose and pumps. A fourth wine in this series – Handyman Red – was released in early 2005 for all those guys who love Working Girl wines but can’t quite bring themselves to order Go Girl Red in a bar!
In 2003, Olympic Cellars designated the local Gynocare Program its “Charity of Choice.” Gynocare provides free diagnostic testing and treatment for low-income women on the Olympic Peninsula, who are at risk for ovarian cancer and other diseases. Kathy established a direct line
Olympic Cellars’ carefree, fun Working Girl wines are on a mission to rescue working women everywhere after a long day in pantyhose and pumps! Each wine in the series was created to be distinct, yet affordable and has “her” own unique personality. Working Girl White is a sassy, no-nonsense blend of Chardonnay and Riesling, while Go Girl Red is a wonderfully lush little number with the power to turn a gunnysack into velvet. And Rosé the Riveter, well she just rocks like her namesake from the 1940s.
Olympic Cellars’ giving campaign doesn’t stop there. The winery is now matching up charitable organizations’ needs for ongoing funding sources with the winery’s need for dedicated volunteer staffing through a program called, “2X Success.”
2X Success establishes a formal relationship between Olympic Cellars and one or more 501(c)(3) organizations centered on sustainable community partnership. The winery agrees to sell wine at its actual cost to a maximum of four 501(c)(3) organizations each year, in return for a committed number of volunteer hours, provided by the non-profits’ membership. The organizations can then host a fundraising event and sell or auction their earned wine.
Olympic Cellars successfully tested 2X Success during the 2004 harvest with Operation Uplift, a local non-profit organization that provides emotional support to cancer patients. Operation Uplift plans to sell its earned wine by the glass at a fundraising event in the summer of 2005. The organization will continue its partnership with Olympic Cellars throughout 2005.
Three additional non-profit organizations, Healthy Families of Clallam County, Dungeness Health Clinic and the Soroptomists, will also participate in the program this year.
In May of 2005, Olympic Cellars will begin bottling all of its wines in clear, recyclable glass. There is currently only one other winery in Washington State, Paradisos del Sol, using environmentally friendly bottles. They are lightweight but sturdy Saint Gobain bottles, which also reduce breakage on the bottling line and lower shipping costs. At the same time, Olympic Cellars will switch to a #4 recyclable black NeoCork, which contains no petroleum, and a recyclable capsule.
Wines to Enjoy After Work