If you wanted to list an ideal Bachelor’s degree for a winemaker, look no further than Josh Stottlemyer’s BS in Chemistry and Geology from the University of Minnesota. After a successful career in web development and internet marketing, Stottlemyer attended the Northwest Wine Academy in Seattle to learn how to make wine. Combine that knowledge with his ninja-like science skills in chemistry and his knowledge of terroir from his geology courses and you have a very talented vintner of Washington’s Stottle Winery.
Stottlemyer sources his grapes from several vineyards in the Yakima Valley and Horse Heaven Hills appellations based on the skill of the growers and the quality of the terroir. Stottle is one of the pioneers in what has become known as the Producer’s District in Lacey, just outside the state capital.
1) Does your background in chemistry and geology provide you with any insight when you are choosing a vineyard source?
It’s amazing how much geology affects the flavors of wine. You can have identical topsoil but varying bedrock and get significant flavor variation. We choose our vineyards based on micro-climate, soil, bedrock and vine age. The right combination makes wonderful wine every year.
2) Stottle is one of the first craft beverage makers in the Lacey Producer’s District. Was it an “If I build it they will come” moment that led you to open a tasting room in this unusual wine locale?
Locating a winery in a rural environment in this area is a huge challenge due to zoning restrictions. Those have improved some in recent years, however too late for our benefit. Choosing a warehouse location was really our only option at the time.
We choose the area that would become the Lacey Producer’s District because of its close proximity to the freeway, for easy tourist access, and the population centers of Thurston County. It has worked great for us; we have an extremely strong local following with club members all over the country who found us on a visit or passing through. It’s great that several other craft beverage producers have decided to locate in the area, we are all friendly and support each other.
3) What do you think is the perfect summer wine and why?
Rosé, of course! We make a rosé of Sangiovese, you get these great strawberry and melon flavors which are just delightfully refreshing on a hot summer day. Rosé is also really versatile in that it can be enjoyed on its own or paired with a lot of the lighter fare of summer time.
4) What are your favorite tunes to jam to while making wine?
They did a study a few years back, in Germany I think, on the effect of music on wine. It seems the waveforms of the different music — if played continuously during the winemaking and aging process — actually have an effect on the final taste of the wine. The best results were with classical and acoustic music. Although I haven’t yet tried this myself, I am curious to try it.
They have also shown that the music you listened to while drinking wine alters your perception of the taste of the wine. To answer your question, if you happen to catch me after hours I may be listening to a bit of Deadmau5 one night and Van Morrison another.