Many kids who grow up in Eastern Washington, the birthplace of the Washington wine industry, aspire to work in the biz. But only the determined go on to be winemakers. Winemaker Jeremy Santo grew up with WSU agricultural scientist parents with an appreciation for wine, and started as a lab tech at Snoqualmie Winery. Add his biology degree and great palate, and winemaking becomes the job he was born for.
Jeremy moved up fast; first as lab technician, then joining Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Canoe Ridge label as enologist. Soon after, he was named assistant winemaker. There, he learned about sourcing styles of grapes, and how to tweak temperatures, yeasts and blends to hit a specific taste profile.
Once he joined Ryan Patrick, Jeremy and his team honed their craft as artisanal winemakers. His past was a great foundation, but now he has the intuitive freedom to do more intricate winemaking, doing small-lot fermentations to bring out the essence of what the vineyard is yielding up.
His goal is to work with vineyard managers closely, and only with great vineyards with sustainable growing practices. He then uses winemaking techniques to bring out the best expression of those sites in the wines.
From its beginnings as a family winery named after its grape-growing family founders’ two sons, to today’s incarnation as a Columbia Valley AVA star with a Leavenworth landmark tasting room, Ryan Patrick will continue to make approachable wines with a serious edge.
Intuitive winemaking is the art of letting the fruit speak for itself. It’s minimalist intervention combined with consistency of style. That’s the heart of the Ryan Patrick promise: artisanal winemaking where the grape is at the center. Many wineries use static recipes for their wines; instead, winemaker Jeremy Santo does daily fermentations with different yeast or temperatures to achieve a specific effect. A true craftsman, Jeremy pulls from his scientific education and training at Snoqualmie and Canoe Ridge wineries to create consistently great wines that people love to discover and share with their friends.
His batch-tinkering approach has resulted in varietals and blends that have justifiably become famous for how they out-perform their price point. Ryan Patrick is known for its Naked Chardonnay, Redhead Red and Rock Island Red labels, and for its Reserve wines.
“From a warm vintage, this aromatic offering has notes of candy corn, corn silk, pear and tropical fruit. It’s full bodied with sweet fruit flavors that have a creamy feel and lead to a lingering finish.” — S.S. (3/1/2015)