Washington is booming with winemakers who have a love for the craft and are passionate about sharing the unique qualities of regional American Viticultural Areas (AVAs). J.J. Compeau is one of those winemakers. Compeau was born and raised in Yakima, Washington, and first discovered his love for wine and food while working as a restaurant server. He has worked in a number of roles in the wine industry, gaining over 20 years of experience, and now he’s launched a new venture to teach wine drinkers about the story behind wine and the unique flavor profiles behind every soil, vine and finished product. We sat down with J.J. to learn a bit more about his latest project, Narratif Wines.
1) What’s behind the name Narratif Wines?
Every wine has a story. Narratif is my way of telling the story of Washington state wines. In the next 10 years, I plan to produce wines from as many Washington AVAs as I can to allow my customers to learn the flavor profiles from different places and vintages. The story of every wine begins and ends in the vineyard. The Narratif program will focus on vineyards to help create the “sense of place” I want my wines to show.
2) What’s your mission with Narratif when it comes to small production?
To showcase the amazing vineyards and AVAs of Washington state. I have been telling the story of Washington state wine for over 20 years and want to expand that story, the flavors and the vines through my wine. The story of every wine means something to me, and these wines will be very low production at 120 to 400 cases.
3) Tell us a bit more about Narratif’s parent company, NW Wine Collaborative.
I created NW Wine Collaborative to have fun with fellow colleagues and to have a brand for the restaurants. That’s the part of the market I love. The NW Wine Collaborative label allows me to collaborate with winemakers and growers to produce wines that are made to be served with food. These wines are well balanced with a focus on fruit. I hope this brand will morph into many adventures and be a go-to wine for the dinner table. Moving forward, these wines will specialize in showcasing the blending of varietals.
4) What are a few of your favorite wine and food pairings?
The most memorable pairing I have ever had is blue cheese with ice wine. It is amazing. My first suggestion for pairing food and wine: know the basic food pairing rules, and then try to create a lasting memory. One of my favorite hobbies is to forage for mushrooms and then take them back to enjoy another great pairing — wild mushrooms with one of the many outstanding Washington Syrahs.