When Brian Carter arrived in Washington in 1980, only 16 wineries were in existence in the state. As The Wine News observed in 1998, “Perhaps more than anyone else, Carter, both as a consultant and as winemaker for his own Washington Hills Cellars, is responsible for the tremendous recognition Washington has received for its wines and for the current status the region holds in the international wine community.”
Brian’s early and natural curiosity led him to study microbiology at Oregon State University and while there, discovered his appreciation for the wines of Oregon. After two year at University of California-Davis School of Enology, Brian honed his winemaking skill with stints at California wineries Mount Eden Vineyard and Chateau Montelena before returning to the Pacific Northwest. His first winemaking successes came with Paul Thomas Winery. At a 1987 competition held at the Windows of the World Restaurant in New York City between Bordeaux and United States wines, Brian’s 1983 Paul Thomas Cabernet outscored every wine in the competition, including the1983 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon and the 1983 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild.
His early success did not fade. Brian’s work at Paul Thomas garnered many more awards, including the Grand Prize from the Pacific Northwest Enological Society for his 1986 Chardonnay. This string of accomplishments led Brian to pursue a career as a consulting winemaker for a series of young wineries including McCrea Cellars, Hedges Family, Randall Harris, Silver Lake and many more. Not limited to just making wines, Brian’s expertise led to the design of the Hedges Family Estate Red Mountain Winery and Kestrel Vineyards Winery in Prosser, WA. Brian became full time-winemaker and partner in Apex and Washington Hills Cellars in 1990 where he went on to take top honors at the Pacific Northwest Enological judging twice more making him the only three time winner of the award.
Brian’s passion for winemaking has always been his hallmark. After years of production wines for others, Brian created a small production of his own wine, “Solesce” starting in 1997. With a theme of “ A Passion for the Art of Blending” Brian has now introduced a wine of wines under Brian Carter Cellars label that represents Washington State’s first winery focusing exclusively on an array of blended wines. “It’s great to see my passion for blended wines transformed into these new European style blends using Washington State grapes,” he says. Meanwhile the awards keep coming forth for Brian’s Blends including most recently a Platinum medal for his 2005 Solesce Bordeaux-Style Blend and a double-Gold for the 2007 Byzance Rhone Style blend
During his 31 vintages as a Winemaker in Washington, Brian has often been honored by his peers for helping to contribute to the states reputation as a premier wine growing area. Past recognition includes the 1996 Alec Bayless prize and the 2004 Industry Service award. Most recently he has been chosen as the 2007 Honorary Vintner for the Auction of Washington Wines 20th Anniversary Event.
Brian has held leadership positions in numerous professional organizations, including:
- Past chairman, Pacific Northwest Chapter, American Society of Enology and Viticulture
- Past chairman, Central Washington Wine Technical Group
- Co-Chair Washington Wine Advisory Committee
- Member, Northwest Foundation Block Advisory Group
Brian lives with his two sons in Bellevue, Washington. He enjoys skiing, camping and hiking with them when he isn’t making wine or exercising his culinary skills in the kitchen.
Brian’s passion for winemaking has always been his hallmark.