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Brian Carter, Winemaker

Pioneering. Innovative. Legendary.

“I came into the field of wine, not because my parents were wine drinkers, but because I was given a microscope when I was 12 years old. I heard about these things called yeast, and I wanted to see what they looked like under a microscope. I was told if you want to look at yeast you have to start a fermentation. So I picked some blackberries, fermented the wine, took a sample, and brought out my microscope — and there they were — the little yeast. I’ve been having those yeast work for me ever since.” – Brian Carter

If there is a constant star in the world of Washington wines, that star is Brian Carter. Since his arrival on the Washington State wine scene in 1980 when there were just 16 wineries, Brian continues to influence this industry which now boasts more than 1,000 wineries and is growing weekly. His involvement as winemaker, consultant, and guide to dozens of wineries has helped elevate the Washington wine industry from a regional industry to an international powerhouse.

Brian’s early curiosity about microbes led him to study microbiology at Oregon State University, where he discovered his appreciation for the wines of Oregon. After two years at the University of California-Davis School of Enology, Brian honed his winemaking skill with stints at esteemed California wineries Mount Eden Vineyard and Chateau Montelena. But the Pacific Northwest beckoned, and Brian returned to join early Washington winemaker Paul Thomas Winery, where his skills and artistic touch marked him as a winemaker to watch. At a competition held at Windows on the World in New York City, Brian’s 1983 Paul Thomas Cabernet took first place, outpacing the likes of Quilceda Creek and Chateau Lafite-Rothschild.

Brian’s initial success laid the foundation for his steady ascent. His wines garnered many awards, and this string of accomplishments led him to pursue a career as a consulting winemaker for a series of young wineries including McCrea Cellars, Hedges Family Cellars, Soos Creek, Silver Lake, and others. In 1997, after years of producing wines for others, Brian created a small production of his own wine, “Solesce,” at the Apex winery where he was residing as winemaker and co-owner. The wine quickly sold out and the time for Brian Carter Cellars had arrived. With the introduction of the Brian Carter Cellars Collection in 2006, Brian completed one aspect of his outstanding career and began another.

In 2006, Brian released his full line of blended wines, including Oriana, Tuttorosso, Byzance, and Le Coursier (formerly L’Etalon). Brian Carter Cellars became the first winery in Washington dedicated exclusively to producing blends.

Brian was twice touted as “Winemaker of the Year” by Washington Magazine, and he is the only three-time recipient of the Pacific Northwest Enological Society’s Grand Prize. Often recognized by his peers, Brian was the Honored Vintner at the 2007 Auction of Washington Wines, and he received the prestigious Industry Service Award from the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers. Dedicated to giving back to the industry that has supported him, Brian is a long standing member and past chairman of the Wine Research Advisory Committee, which makes recommendations on how state funds are spent on wine and grape research at Washington State University.  Brian is also a Board Member for the Washington Wine Foundation.

“It’s great to see my passion for blended wines transformed into these new European-style blends using Washington State grapes.” – Brian Carter

Brian’s passion for winemaking has always been his hallmark, and his European-style blended wines are the culmination of his years as a premier Washington winemaker. With his connections to the best vineyards in the state, he is able to source the finest quality grapes to achieve his vision of wines with balance, dimension, and depth. The Brian Carter Cellars Collection epitomizes Brian’s commitment to quality, taste, and terroir.

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