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Our Story

Today, Betz Family Winery is headed by Steve and Bridgit Griessel. We are committed to being true to the incredible heritage that Bob and Cathy Betz created for us.

Bob Betz, MW
Consulting Winemaker
bob@betzfamilywinery.com

Bob Betz, MW

Bob is our consulting 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

Steve and Bridgit
Managing Owners
steve@betzfamilywinery.com
bridgit@betzfamilywinery.com

Steve and Bridgit Griessel

As the managing owners, Steve and Bridgit are thrilled to be part of the next chapter of Betz Family Winery. They live at the winery and have 3 children.

They are dedicated to ensuring that the Company is true to its heritage, culture, winemaking 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.

Their combined passion for wine led them to search the US west coast for a winery to call their own. They were exposed to the character and quality of Washington wine, and 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. 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. Over four years ending in September 2014 he completed the Certificate Program of Enology and additionally the Certificate Program of Viticulture at Washington State University.

Bridgit shares Steve’s passion for wine, as well as his business acumen. 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, but spends the vast majority of her time engaged at Betz Family. She’s a computer whiz and has greatly enhanced Betz Family Winery’s website and e-commerce platform to deliver a better experience to our valued customers.


Louis Skinner
Winemaker
louis@betzfamilywinery.com

Louis Skinner

For Louis, discovering wine was a life-changing event. “A good friend was determined to get me interested in wine. He put together a tasting of classic French wines: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and a couple of bottles of California Cabernet for contrast. This one tasting did it for me – the switch was flipped, and wine has been my passion ever since.”

What began as regular trips to the library for wine books, and cruising the shelves of wine shops, soon became the focus of a new career. Louis enrolled in the Enology and Viticulture program at South Seattle Community College, and shortly after enrolling, took a sales position for the eastside wine merchant, Fine Wines. For several years, Louis divided his time between school, the wine shop, and industry tastings. “I learned the fundamentals of winemaking, and wine tasting at the same time. I place great value in both, and rely on them equally in the cellar.”

In order to complete his degree, Louis worked an internship with Betz Family in 2010. “This experience shaped my view of winemaking in a very positive way. It set the bar in terms of attention to detail, organization, and most of all, the value of capturing data, and learning from it.”

Early in 2011 Louis went to work for DeLille Cellars, which proved to be an invaluable opportunity. During his time with DeLille, Louis focused on improvements in the lab, cellar, and quality control, eventually earning the title of Enologist. “I worked 3 harvests, bottled 4 vintages, moved into a new facility, and our team doubled production. I learned a great deal about the logistics of winemaking, in a very short period of time.”

Taking the time to taste great wine is a priority for Louis. While he has spent considerable time studying wines from around the globe, the classic regions of France enjoy most of his attention. This has led to him hosting a monthly tasting group focusing on the best of Burgundy, Bordeaux, and the Rhone. Louis can regularly be found hunting for old, rare, and hard to find bottles.

”My favorite part of working in the wine industry is that I can always find inspiration and motivation in my work. There is always more to learn in the cellar and the lab, and there are always new wines to taste.”

”Returning to Betz Family Winery as the Assistant Winemaker is an honor. Although I finished my internship with Betz in 2010, and went to work for DeLille, I'm thrilled to get the chance to be part of the Betz team.”

In June, 2016 Louis was promoted to Winemaker. When he’s not at the winery, Louis spends most of his time with his beautiful wife, Lauren. They share a passion for travel, food, wine, and supporting each other in all they do. “True excellence is a constant and endless journey, it is not a destination.”
-Max Schubert, Penfolds Winery


Tim Steinke
Sales Director
tim@betzfamilywinery.com

Tim Steinke

Tim has had a passion for wine from a young age. While studying for his Bachelors in Science degree at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, he began working at a steakhouse, was bitten by the wine bug and ended up managing the wine list. After graduating he plunged deeper by working in restaurants in Montana, where he began doing buying trips to Washington.

Tim became a proselytizer of Washington wine, later working at restaurants in California and Washington, before landing at the Grand Award –Winning restaurant, Wild Ginger.

Already a Certified Sommelier, Tim decided to pursue his wine making degree and completed the Associates in Wine Technology program at South Seattle Community College.

Tim was very familiar with Betz Family from his work as a Sommelier and when the time came to do a harvest internship, he came knocking at the door. Betz Family was the only winery he applied at and he was immediately appointed.

Tim is now our Director of Sales and brings a passion for wine, relationships and good jokes; as well as hands on winemaking skills.


Kevin Irving
Assistant Winemaker 
kevin@betzfamilywinery.com

Kevin Irving

Having grown up amongst the trees, lakes, and frozen tundra of Northern Minnesota, Kevin’s exposure to wine was minimal in the early stages of his life; limited to an occasional sip of sparkling wine while toasting newlyweds at a family wedding, or a glass of something poured out of a box at a party with friends. “I grew up in beer and liquor country”, he is fond of saying, with a shrug.

After graduating from the University of Minnesota in 2009 with a business degree in accounting and finance and working as a financial statement auditor in Minneapolis, Kevin traveled to visit a dear friend in Seattle in the summer of 2011, and fell in love with the Pacific Northwest. Within months of that visit, and the generous help of that same friend, Kevin accepted an audit position with a local technology company and relocated to Kirkland, WA, just minutes from the wineries and tasting rooms of Woodinville. This is when his interest in wine began to take root.

Throughout the next seven and a half years, Kevin’s job took him around the world and he experienced firsthand the importance of food and beverage across cultures, and his interest in wine continued to grow. He especially grew to appreciate food and wine pairing, and wine’s ability to elevate a dining experience, a passion he shares and continues to explore with his wife, Vivian.

After spending the better part of a decade asking questions as an auditor and investigator, Kevin began turning his inquiring mind to the world of wine, quickly becoming enamored with the depth and complexity of wine as a subject and devouring all of the books and content he could find on the subject: regions, grape growing practices, winemaking practices, sensory analysis, etc. With the encouragement of his wife, friends, and mentors, Kevin began exploring the idea of starting a second career in the world of wine.

At Taste Washington in March 2019, Kevin was introduced to the winemaker at Betz Family Winery, Louis Skinner.  Louis hired Kevin as an intern for the 2019 harvest and Kevin began helping around the winery months in advance of the harvest to learn as much about wine production as possible and contributed in any way he could leading up to and throughout the harvest season. After a short break from the winery following harvest 2019, Kevin returned to Betz Family in the Spring of 2020 as the assistant winemaker, continuing his wine journey.

 

Brenda Butler
Director of Marketing & Events
brenda@betzfamilywinery.com

Brenda Butler

From humble beginnings to champagne taste!  Let's face is, Nebraska is beer country and wine was only part of "fancy weddings" and special holidays.  Even at it's best; the wine was a good old-fashioned Nebraska blend.  Fast forward: travels, culinary experiences, tours through the Chateau Ste. Michelle and corporate dinners opened an entirely new world of enchantment. Washington Wine was a force to be reckoned with and what great opportunities lay ahead - and that's what she thought back in 1993!  Who knew how much the industry would progress in the last 27 years?

Brenda was talking on the telephone, persuading family and friends to take on new challenges way beyond Midwest traditions long before receiving her Business Administration degree at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln.  Upon graduation, she jumped at the chance to avoid wearing pantyhose, high heels, and a suit to work by landing a management role at Gap, Inc. - back when GapKids was shaping the children's fashion industry and babyGap was taking the world by storm.  Sales, Management, Training, New Store Openings, Operational Best Practices, Business Planning & Development, and Labor Management would consume her world for 12+ years spanning the entire west coast and Alaska!  WOW - what fun!  

After a brief retirement, residential Real Estate swooped in and opened another amazing world of sales, business acumen, and long-term relationships.  There are few homes she hasn't seen, shown, or wine cellars she hasn't envied.  After designing and building her own home, how can anyone resist seeing a wine cellar in a custom home? This created a whole new dilemma...Wine or Real Estate.  Long and short, the wine industry became a passion and won!


 

Maggie Clarke
Customer Service Manager maggie@betzfamilywinery.com

Maggie Clarke

Maggie waltzed her way into the wine industry in 2019 (she’ll admit it was an accident) and didn’t take long to be completely enamored by the wine world.  She began working as Bridgit Griessel’sassistant as a side gig while she pursued her true passion: dance! Born and raised in Washington state, Maggie spent most of her childhood in dance studios training across many genres since the age of three. She went on to perform and compete for the University of Washington Cheer & Dance Team while studying Communication and LSJ (Law, Societies, & Justice).  After experiencing the thrill of performing for thousands of fans on Husky gamedays, she wasn’t quite ready to hang up the poms after graduating and eventually went on to audition for the Seahawks Dancers. Spending 2019 on the sidelines of CenturyLink Field proved to be a defining year as she fulfilled her lifelong dream of dancing professionally!

While kicking off her professional dance career, Maggie worked up the hill from Betz Family Winery and her curiosity led to her poking her nose around the winery during the 2019 harvest.  After asking a million questions and reading through a stack of books from the winemaking team, it became obvious she had stumbled upon a newfound interest. She joined the Betz team in 2020 as the Customer Service Manager and loves assisting our members while expanding her own wine  knowledge. Look out for her on the sidelines and the big screen at Seahawks games and we can’t wait to see where Maggie’s wine journey takes her!

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At Betz Family Winery, we have a guiding philosophy behind everything we do; there is no substitute for quality. It begins in the vineyards and ends in the cellar. That’s the way we’ve crafted our wine since the first vintage back in 1997, and the way we’ll continue to do so for many more to come. Each bottle is a celebration of the Washington wine region we call home, offering a flavor that’s just as compelling and complex as it is approachable. We keep things purposeful and simple around here, and we think it shows with every sip.