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Bottle Talk

Written by
Morrena Villanueva

A brief history of the Betz Family Winery 

Although family values might not be the first thing to come to mind when you think of wine, at the Betz Family Winery, it is clear they play a significant role in the daily operations.

The vision that is now the Betz Family Winery began in the 70s when Bob and Cathy Betz were in Europe for a year training in the vineyards of France, Italy and Germany. Upon their return, Bob began his 28-year career at Chateau St. Michelle, and less than 10 years after joining the team he was appointed vice president of winemaking research. His passion for wine only continued to grow as he received his Master of Wine degree—an exam with a 12 percent pass rate.

Bob and Cathy’s dream of producing their own wine became a reality in 1997 when they successfully released their first vintage of Betz Family wines with 150 cases. It wasn’t before long that they moved production from Woodinville’s warehouse district to a state-of-art winery.

The Betz Family Winery’s success continued with Bob being named as Sunset Magazine’s Wine Maker of the Year just two years after opening, and their Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 named Washington’s No. 1 Wine of the Year by a Seattle Times wine critic.

All the while, on the other side of the world Steve and Bridgit Griessel, a young couple from South Africa shared the same aspiration that took Bob and Cathy to the European vineyards years ago—a bottomless passion for wine. It was this passion that brought Steve and his family to the United States where they searched for 13 years before they found the perfect winery to fulfill their dream. In 2011, the Betz’s sold the winery to Steve and Bridgit, with Bob staying on as the head winemaker.

“Bob is the patriarch and we are learning under his jubilant,” says Steve. “It’s almost like we are their kids, and we are learning from them.”

Washington’s wine industry is continuing to emerge due to the diverse landscapes ideal for growing a wide variety of grapes, according to the Washington State Wine Commission. And the Betz Family Winery couldn’t agree more.

“Washington is one of the most exceptional places in the world to grow wine grapes,” says Steve. “It is an exciting time in the wine industry and a very, very exciting time to be making wine in Washington.”

Since the two families became one, the winery has continued to see a multitude of success. They now internationally export to 13 countries and the Betz Family Pere de Famille 2010 was ranked No. 6 in the world in the Wine Enthusiast Top 100 Cellar Selections in 2014.

“Family is critical. We are a family,” says Griessel. “We treat everyone as family. We treat our customers as family, our growers as family and our venders as family. Family values are very important with us.”

A variety of wines from Betz Family Winery are currently available at Cosmos.

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