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Tinte Cellars

"Great wine for the greater good"

There's a great deal of passion involved with making wine and it takes a lot of bandwidth. Who has time for anything other than the process? As it happens, husband and wife team Teresa Spellman Gamble and Tim Gamble have more in mind than great wine.

When they sold their company, Nutraceutix, to a Swedish company, they were able to stop and say, "What next?" Both had been raised to volunteer and support the community. "It was our upbringing; our families were focused on giving back," says Teresa. Her father was John Spellman, King County Executive (1969-1981) and governor of Washington state (1981-1985). "We were taught to give your time, talent, and treasure. Tim and I were very fortunate to sell our business in a market that had exploded and to a company that promised to retain our employees."

Teresa spent 33 years with the University of Washington, working while completing her undergraduate and Masters degrees. The last 20 years were spent with UW Medicine where she helped start the neighborhood clinics. She took a leave to help care for her parents while Tim continued to run their company.

They sold the company in 2017, her parents died within 9 days of each other in 2018, and in June of 2018, the "what next?" question was answered when they purchased both William Church and Cuillin Hills wineries, located next door to each other in the Woodinville Warehouse District. They named the new winery Tinte ("Ti" for Tim, "n" for and, "Te" for Teresa). "Depending on what language you speak, it can mean different things. In French, tinte is the sound of glasses clinking together. In Spanish and German, it means colored ink or water," explains Teresa.

Before purchasing the wineries, they had decided to create an event facility which nonprofits could use at reduced cost, but they couldn't find the right space. One day they were visiting Cuillin Hills talking to winemaker Derek DesVoigne about a possible collaboration when they were introduced to his neighbor and winemaker at the William Church winery, Noah Fox Reed. Introductions quickly led to further discussions and within days Tim and Teresa had approached the owners of both wineries with a proposal. Teresa says, "So we bought two wineries and spent the first couple of months fleshing out our philanthropy model. We started using "great wine for the greater good" after 6-9 months. Even with two winery spaces, we still needed an event space. When you're making wine, you're using the space for that about half the year, and storage and blending the rest."

The purchase included a lot of barrels, bottles, and cases of wine. "We weren't worried about brand recognition. We cared about not laying off staff and creating wines of our own. Now everything we bottle is under the Tinte Cellars name. Noah is our head winemaker, and once all William Church and Cuillin Hills wine is gone, it will just be Tinte. Wine-wise, we are simplifying things. When we brought the two wineries together, we had nine Syrahs available for sale and at least than many wine clubs.

"I feel that Noah has a more traditional view of winemaking; his Viognier is absolutely amazing. Rebecca Germano was hired as assistant winemaker about a year ago. She has a different background than Noah and they are a great combo with a great yin/yang balance. I wanted them to make a Rosé in the Provence style and she found the yeast cultivated in France for our Rosé. The wine is perfect. We went into this wanting to produce the highest quality wine we can from Washington state grapes and, in the process, give back." Both of these goals have been reached. In their first year, they gave over $170,000 to area nonprofits. At the 2020 Seattle Wine Awards, they received four gold and two silver medals.

"We wanted a simple way to give back. We take 5% on retail sales and 10% on club member sales right off the top, before we pay rent, payroll, etc. Around 90% of our sales are through the club, which is free to join and very flexible. You can buy as few as two bottles four times a year and if you don't want the new releases, you can switch out to something you would prefer."

Each year, Teresa and Tim select the nonprofits they will donate to and split the money equally between them. For 2020, the programs are Mary's Place, Northwest Harvest, and Seattle Children's Behavioral Health Crisis Care Clinic. They look behind the scenes before choosing to ensure they know how the money is used. "Despite COVID, we're pleased at what we've been able to give so far this year. We sell more wine when people can taste it, so being closed hasn't helped." They knew it was important to take reopening slowly. "We opened later than other tasting rooms but wanted to get it right for the safety and health or our staff and guests. This isn't a sprint." Their Hollywood Hill tasting room is used for curbside wine pickup and home delivery only at this time. The winery location is open for reserved tastings, easily accomplished on their website.

Creating community is their hallmark, so they produce events that bring people together like Tinte Tunes with live music. When live music was suspended by State order, it became Tinte Tunes with a Twist: limited seating with games, trivia, prizes, and wine. Their Bottles for Bravery, and Love Letters to the Elderly have been great antidotes to the pandemic.

They found an event space in Georgetown, one of the oldest free-standing wooden buildings there with the familiar "Greetings from Georgetown" mural painted on the side. "We wanted to honor the history of the neighborhood, so we didn't tear it down, we renovated. It had no foundation; we had to lift the building up to put one in. The local favorite yellow chick painting will probably be framed and kept inside. The landmark rooftop scooter is being restored and will go back up on the roof. Work stopped for a while but is now underway." The space will serve as an additional tasting room, and events will begin when the State regulations allow.

"Very few people have the opportunity to meld their passion for community with running a business. We're thrilled to be channeling nature and taking what we've assembled to reach our ultimate goal of great wine for the greater good."

Connie Adams/September 2020

Tinte Cellars
Warehouse District
19495 144th Ave NE, Ste A10
Woodinville, WA 98072
425-659-WINE (9463)

Hollywood Hill Winery District
14455 Woodinville-Redmond Rd
Woodinville, WA 98072

Photos courtesy of Tinte Cellars

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