Home wine makers have been able to buy fresh grapes from FH Steinbart for many years. But where do those grapes come from? Like all the ingredients we stock at the store, we source our grapes from someone with a passion for the craft. Jim Jamison of Richland, Washington has been supplying grapes to FH Steinbart customers since 2011. Jim is a grape grower and wine maker himself who grows grapes on two acres of his own land on the boundary between the Columbia and Yakima Valley AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) and manages four other small vineyards nearby. Jim’s varieties include Chardonnay, Riesling, Viognier, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Lemberger, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Sangiovese, Grenache, Mourvedre and Malbec. Besides the varieties he grows, Jim can often find others that customers want because he works closely with several small grape growers in that area to market their grapes.
Jim and his wife moved to Richland in 1974 from the East Coast, where Jim was stationed while serving in the Navy on a nuclear submarine. He planted his first vineyard in 1982. He built a house on the property for his growing family and as his first vines began to yield fruit, Jim was ready to try his hand at making wine from his own grapes. The wines tasted pretty good, and some did well when he entered them in the local County Fair. Soon he and a group of friends were enthusiastically making wine on a barrel-scale in the garage and driveway.
In the 1990’s Jim and his friends toyed with the idea of starting a commercial winery, but when his interest in that waned he turned his energies to marketing his grapes to other winemakers. As neighboring properties changed ownership and new owners showed no interest in growing grapes, Jim took over the care of the vineyards. He now manages several of these parcels, which he calls his “orphans”.
Beginning in late August or early September and continuing through October, Jim takes vineyard samples each week to monitor the changing pH, acid (titratable acidity), sugar and flavor qualities. The analysis results are used to predict the best date for harvest of each variety. Many customers from Seattle, Spokane, Eastern Oregon and the Portland area visit Jim’s property to pick up their grapes. In most years customers include a half-dozen wineries, several winemaking clubs and many individual home wine makers. For FH Steinbart, Jim delivers weekly. Winemaking customers who order their grapes from FH Steinbart can be assured that their fruit has been grown and cared for by someone with a real commitment to supplying the best possible ingredients.
Thanks to Jim!
What Do You Like To Make?
While I enjoy brewing beer & I’m looking forward to learning to make wine, my current fermentation obsession is vinegar. I had already decided to attempt beer vinegar long before I started at FHS, but this job definitely accelerated my experiments, since we sell vinegar mothers. It wasn’t too long before I’d started red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, and apple cider vinegar. Since then, I’ve been given other beverages to vinegar-ize, and those are definitely going strong too. I am most looking forward to my marionberry wine vinegar finishing up. For those who are interested and can make it into the shop, I leave samples of my red wine vinegar and my beer vinegar behind the counter.
What Do You Like Most About Your Job @ FH Steinbart?
It’s a tie between helping customers with their problem-solving, which is incredibly satisfying, or all the new knowledge that’s being crammed into my cranium just by virtue of being here. This is pretty convenient since one leads to being more effective at the other.
How Do You Like To Spend Your Free Time?
I have a number of pastimes. Some are rather seasonal. I love being outside in nice weather, for example, but the grey and rainy Portland winters drive me indoors almost completely. Luckily, things like reading can be done in both locations. I also enjoy board games, cooking, and engaging in new hobbies to see what sticks. As you can read above, vinegar stuck. I’m now eyeballing our cheese-making kits to see about that…
What’s the Life Arc That Brought You To Portland?
I grew up in New Mexico and find myself in Portland by way of D.C., Baltimore, and Chicago. I got myself a M.Sc. in Biology while I was living in D.C. and Baltimore, and landed in Chicago to continue that path. Somehow, though, I ended up a Certified Cicerone® rather than a biologist. Though, to be honest, that biology education comes in handy on a regular basis. I landed at FHS because Mark mentioned a job opening. I had brewed a little bit of beer back in Chicago, but I got out of the habit. I figured a good way to get back in the habit and learn more about brewing as I consider studying for Advanced Cicerone® was landing the job here. I had nooooo idea how correct that was, and I’m extremely glad I’m here now.
Marc gets to select ten pounds of grain from our extensive craft malt selection.
We’re excited to see what Marc’s brewing!
Coveted by beer nerds this kit has been nearly impossible to keep on the shelf.
Now Diane can drop the Great Notion on her friends in upstate New York.
Sometimes A Great Notion
YOur shirt is on its way wear it proud!
This was a little different the winner was selected from comments on a post. Congrats on the win Johna and enjoy!
Congrats Page enjoy your fancy new glass!