Photo courtesy: Owen Aird.
Latah Creek Wine Cellars in Spokane Valley, Washington, has been pouring excellence into each glass for more than 37 years! Established in 1982 by husband and wife Mike and Ellena Conway, Latah Creek Wine Cellars continues to bring affordable, award-winning wines to the Inland Northwest. Thirty-eight harvests later, they, along with their winemaker daughter Natalie Barnes, continue that mission.
In the fall of 2019, they unveiled their newly remodeled tasting room and gift shop at the winery, where they have created a space that is open and inviting to all who walk through the door. The walls have been taken down to allow for a massive space offering large community tables, each with bookcase ends filled with gourmet food and beautiful gift items (hand selected by Ellena), barrel tables and comfortable leather couches for people to gather and visit while tasting. A rock wall with floating shelves highlights their gift baskets made in-house and perfect for any occasion, as well as their exclusive ceramic ware.
“We wanted to remodel our tasting room so that people would know who we are—see that Latah Creek and the Conway family histories are deeply intertwined,” says Natalie. “My favorite part of the remodel is the chalkboard wall of history, where our guests are able to see that we are over 37 years old, that we are a family winery dedicated to the job and making wines that are award-winning.”
Natalie joined her father Mike in 2004 as co-winemaker at Latah Creek, making them the first father/daughter winemaking team in Washington state. Fifteen years later, she remains passionate about making wine honestly because she loves it! “I love tasting the grapes on the vines, the juice as it is fermenting, all the while imagining what the finished wine will be,” Natalie smiles. “And I actually love working with my parents and the interaction with my dad as we taste our wine, make blends, and just do winemaking together. And the most rewarding part of it all is when someone tastes our wine and falls in love with it.”
When Latah Creek was established in 1982, it was the 35th winery in Washington state, and today, there are 1,000 active wineries. “We not only share a piece of the pie with the growing local wineries and tasting rooms but with the hundreds that are showing up in stores. Then add in the cideries, distilleries and breweries,” states Natalie. “To stay alive during all of this, I believe you need to stay true to who you are. My parents decided at the beginning, that no matter what, they would keep the prices affordable so that everyone can enjoy quality wines every day, not just on special occasions—and we have never strayed from this mission.”
The father/daughter winemaker team continues to work together to make something exceptional that they both love, and for the past few years, they’ve been experimenting to create unique blends and small lots. “We are crafting these things together, listening to and sharing with one another,” says Natalie. “It is an experience that I can only hope I will be able to have with my own daughters.” The tasting room is open daily from 9am to 5pm, where they invite you to shop, taste, visit and enjoy.
Latah Creek Wine Cellars Spokane Valley, WA 13030 E. Indiana Ave. 509.926.0164 LatahCreek.com