There are hundreds of winemakers throughout the Northwest honing their craft, but not many of them can say they learned the ins and outs of winemaking from their father. But Andrew Januik is one of those people. Mike Januik is known as one of the pioneers of Washington wine, and Andrew grew up alongside his father as he led the development of Novelty Hill-Januik Winery in Woodinville.
Now, Andrew works as a winemaker for Novelty Hill and Januik, as well as his own label, Andrew Januik Wines. From his unique experience and influences growing up in the wine industry to his focus on visiting other locales to learn even more about the craft, we sat down with Andrew Januik to find out more.
1) Influenced by your father, you’ve grown up in the wine industry. How has that affected your career?
I’ve always felt that growing up around the wine industry has been a huge advantage for me. Starting from a very early age, I was learning all about wine and the winemaking process from my father. He has always been incredibly generous about sharing his wealth of knowledge and experiences in the industry. Being able to learn from his successes and just as importantly, the challenges he has faced with thousands of different fermentations and finished wines has always made my winemaking experiences so much easier. There truly is no substitute to having somebody like him to use as a professional sounding board.
2) Since launching your own label, how has that allowed you to branch out creatively?
Starting my own label in 2011 was a chance for me to expand my wine knowledge and to set out on the path to finding my own style as a winemaker. From a young age, the style of wines that I enjoyed and my style of winemaking were influenced greatly from all the wines that were around me, more specifically from Novelty Hill and Januik Winery.
However, in the evolution of all winemakers there comes a point where some of their preferences and stylistic choices become more and more unique to themselves. With each passing vintage of my labels, the wines are stylistically diverging more and more from the Novelty Hill and Januik wines. With that being said, we are looking for balanced, medium-bodied wines from all the labels so the wines will not be polar opposites of each other.
3) You’ve helped with harvests in Argentina and South Africa. Why is it important to you to experience harvest in other areas?
There are a number of reasons why working in different winemaking regions can been so invaluable for a winemaker. Firstly, it’s important to get different views and ideas on how winemaking can be done. The philosophies and winemaking practices will differ from winery to winery in the same region but in my experience the differences are far greater once working in different regions. By working in these different places that have unique climates, terroir and challenges, a winemaker will become much more versatile.
In addition to the winemaking aspects, the experience of seeing how different cultures relate to wine and the way it influences their daily lives is always incredibly fascinating. This has been immensely important to me and has enhanced both my love for wine and the places where I’m making it. The collection of all these things has brought me back to Argentina every year to create my own wines down there. I love the idea of blending our techniques and philosophies with those of different countries. This concept, along with using fruit that is so unique to its region, has led to some wines that I hope are both individual and special.
4) What’s your favorite varietal to work with and to drink?
My favorite wines to drink and make is constantly changing. Luckily in Washington we have the ability to grow so many different types of wine, keeping our job interesting at all times. At the moment I am really enjoying both drinking and working with Grenache from all over our state. Internationally my favorite wine to make is high-elevation Malbec from the Uco Valley region of Mendoza, Argentina.