We've had one way of making wine - since the first vintage: keep it small, simple and focused.
In our first vintage we produced about 150 cases total. Ever since we've grown patiently and limited ourselves to a quantity we can watch over, in the vineyard and the cellar.
By working with selected, dedicated grape growers and employing methods that we believe craft superior wine, we hope to create wines of individual character, a blend of richness, balance and pleasure.
Bob Betz, MW
Bob is our winemaker, but he is much more than that. He is our founder, patriarch
and guiding light. His pursuit of winemaking began in the early 1970's when he and Cathy criss-crossed European vineyards to better understand the why and how of crafting fine wine. His philosophy is pretty simple: focus on what the vineyards have provided. Start with the highest quality fruit you can, treat it vigorously when necessary, gently most of the time, and stay out of its way but watch it closely. Allow the wines to develop slowly, and make sure they provide exceptional pleasure.
Bob holds the degree of Master of Wine (MW), a designation awarded by the Institute of Masters of Wine in London. With a pass rate of about 12% it's a grueling process that's well worth the effort. The Institute of Masters of Wine promotes excellence and achievement in the wine industry. Candidates for the MW are required to pass the most rigorous testing in the wine industry which includes written theory and tasting exams. A graduate thesis on a specific winemaking topic must also be completed: Bob's focus was on the interaction of wine and barrels during the maturation process. In completing the exams Bob was given two additional awards: the Villa Maria Award, for the highest scores on the viticultural exam, and the Robert Mondavi Award, for the highest overall scores in all theory exams.
Steve and Bridgit Griessel, Owners
As the managing owners, Steve and Bridgit are thrilled to be part of the next chapter of Betz Family Winery.
They are dedicated to ensuring that the Company stays on course with its heritage, culture, wine making principles and patient growth, teaming with Bob who continues as the “patriarch” and winemaker. In 2002 Steve and Bridgit came to the US from South Africa, a country with a centuries-old winemaking heritage.
The combination of their love for the country’s Cape wine region, combined with their in-depth study and personal experiences eventually led them to search the US west coast for a winery to call their own. They eventually were exposed to the character and quality of Washington wine, and now the rest is history. Steve’s love for wine started at a young age while touring South African vineyards.
He eventually became a student of the world of wines and then an avid collector. His decades of experience with the diverse wine regions of the world further enhanced his appreciation of Washington wines and his fondness for the wines of Betz Family. Steve brings decades of business management to the Betz Family team. He started his first business when he was 25 and has been the co-founder and CEO of many businesses, both private and public, in South Africa and the US. He holds a Bachelors degree in Commerce, a Post Graduate degree in Marketing and a Masters degree in Building Science.
Bridgit shares Steve’s passion for wine, as well as his business management ability. She grew up in Johannesburg South Africa where her fervor for wine started early with her father and Croatian grandfather making wine and brandy in their garage while she was growing up. She started her first business at 19! Her internet services business soon had offices in Palo Alto, New York, Sydney and London, and her business travels further enhanced her knowledge and appreciation of the world’s great wine regions.
Today Bridgit also owns a high end tour company for trips to Southern Africa. She’s a computer whiz and has greatly enhanced Betz Family Winery’s “e-savvy” and electronic capabilities, essential in today’s market.
Tyson Schiffner, Assistant Winemaker
Born and raised just down the street from the winery, Tyson pursued his artistic side from a young age. But he also has mechanical abilities as well - a great combination for wine making.
Tyson pursued degrees in Fine Art and Business Management at Pacific University in Oregon. Following college he returned to his hometown and started work at Redhook Ale Brewery in Woodinville, where he was bitten by the dynamics of fermentation. After two years of hands-on cellaring and filtering, he was promoted to the brew house and spent the next four years constructing fine ales, eventually being promoted to brew master. His skills did not go unnoticed, and he soon found himself working in the cellar at neighboring Chateau Ste. Michelle, where he eventually worked his way to Cellarmaster of the Woodinville winery's white wine efforts. We were fortunate to get Tyson to join the Betz Family team two years ago. He has made his mark in all aspects of our wine making and cellar operations, significantly improved our efficiencies and is honing his red wine making and sensory skills with Bob every day.
When he’s not working he loves enjoying the company of his wife and puppies, restoring VWs and of course having stained hands from making wine!
Tim Steinke, Sales Director
Casey Sherfey, Customer Service Coordinator and Winery Assistant
Casey grew up close to the vineyards in Eastern Washington, but ended up in Seattle attending the University of Washington. After graduating with a BA in Psychology and four years as a varsity letterman under her belt, she stayed close to the university as a strength coach for various college teams, both at UW and Seattle University.
Her interest in wine came from speaking to a winemaker in Eastern Washington on a tasting outing with her mother. To her, winemaking seemed the perfect interaction between the physical aspect of the industry, the creativity that is involved in blending, naming, and label design, and the intellectual aspects of sensory and laboratory analysis. She enrolled in classes at South Seattle Community College, earning her Winemaking Certificate and went to work as a tasting room supervisor at Columbia Winery.
Her first introduction to Betz Family wines was tasting the 06 La Serenne. As she remembers, it was an epiphany experience akin to the clouds parting, light coming down from the heavens and a choir of angles singing. We were lucky that Casey applied for an internship with Betz Family Winery during the 2010 Harvest when she immediately shone. That experience solidified her desire to be a winemaker. In April, 2011, she joined Betz Family winery as Cellar Assistant and Customer Service Manager (aka. "Fledgling Winemaker"). She still swims occasionally but now prefers dry land, training for 10k’s and marathons as well as hiking and trail running.