Nearly 15 years ago my husband, Tim Narby, and I decided that if we didn’t get into the wine business soon, we’d be completely shut out.
We started making wine from a kit given as a wedding gift in the mid-’80s. Then Tim, who worked for Boeing, became involved in the Boeing Wine and Beer Making Club. He found he had a talent for it, and the wines he made started winning awards. Eventually, we decided we could start a small winery. By 2001 the trend toward small wineries in Washington state was speeding up. And, since then, it’s just snowballed. We’ve seen a lot of new wineries in Washington. A lot of small batch, mom and pop operations. And that’s what we are too.
There was more to it than just deciding to start a winery though. We had to go through the permit process, starting with all the paperwork to get a federal permit to create wine. We didn’t actually get our permits until the week of the harvest. But we got them in time, along with equipment like crushers, a press, and tanks for mixing the wine. And so, after 16 years of loving wine, :Nota Bene Cellars was born.
We’ve stuck with making red wines, because it takes different equipment to make white wine, and that complicated things, because red must age for three years. That’s a big investment of time and money that you have to wait to bottle and sell. But wait we did, and we’ve weathered two economic crises that curbed spending on luxuries like wine. We’ve learned to ride the waves.
We sell wine to shops and restaurants, and hold one open house each month to sell direct to the public. We also host two parties a year. Tim is now retired from Boeing and working on the winery full time, but I’m still working as an attorney with the prosecutor’s office in addition to doing the company books in the evenings. We are very excited about how it’s growing.
We’re starting to contract with another winery to create white wine so that we have more selections—at every party, there’s someone who doesn’t drink red wine, so it’s wonderful to be able to offer a selection. It’s a move in the right direction, and an extension of our decision back in 2001 to get involved in the small-lot winemaking industry.
Carol Bryant ’77 and her husband, Tim Narby, have run :Nota Bene Cellars near Seattle, Washington, since 2001. Bryant is a lawyer with the King County, Washington, prosecutor’s office.