Vineyards: None; contracted with Sagemore Farms and Champoux Vineyard
The winery was originally established in 1979 by Gene and Maria Neuharth as Neuharth Winery, just south of Sequim in an old dairy barn. Dan Caudill, who was an ivory carver in Alaska, joined Neuharth Winery in 1986 as Assistant Winemaker, after working at, among other places, Langguth Winery and Cascade Mountain Cellars. Gene passed away in 1993; Dan and his wife Sharon took up the reins of the winery, changing the name to Olympic Cellars in summer 1994. Dan was the winemaker and Sharon managed the tasting room.
In the mid-1990's, Ralph and Kathy Charlton invested in several Olympic Penninsula properties, including the "new" barn where the winery is located now, 10 miles west of Sequim (4 miles east of Port Angeles). When Dan learned that the original barn and house was to be demolished for a new highway 101 bypass of the town of Sequim, he approached the Charltons about renovating the barn and moving the winery there. An agreement as struck, and in the Fall of 1997, Olympic Cellars was moved to this wonderful location; built in 1890, is the oldest in Clallam County!
Unfortunately by the time the renovation was completed, the winery was failing, so in 1999 Kathy decided to take an opportunity for early retirment from her executive position with Texas Instruments, and make a career change, and the Charltons purchased from the winery from the Caudills. As of 2001, the winery has been officially a woman-owned and operated business.
Sara Gagnon joined the winery in December 2000 as assistant winemaker under Dan Caudill. Although she had no formal winemaking education, she learned the art from her grandmother. She stayed on through the ownership transition to become winemaker in 2001, with additional schooling soon after. After surviving a small plane crash in 2004, her life has taken a different direction and she has left the winery.
Tasting room manager Molly Rivard joined in June 2002. Molly had previously been the Food Services Manager for the Sequim school district. She also had a cooking school, and met Kathy there who had enrolled in one of her classes.
Sara has been replaced by Benoit Murat who is from Toulouse, France.
With extensive experience for one so young, he has worked in some of
the most famous winegrowing regions in France, including a stint as
winemaker for the Grand Cru 15 acre estate Chateau La Fleur Cravignac
in Saint Emilion.
The Wines: (Spring 1996)
Benoit Murat 2004-present
Sarah Gagnon 1999-2004
Dan Caudill 1994-1998
Of special note:
The winery is now well established as a small, boutique woman-owned and operated winery, with a unique style all their own. They have created the Working Women Wine series and the La Dolce Vida wine series to promote women's health care. They've also continued to produce the renown Dungeness wines that were a hallmark of the original Neuharth winery.
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