2200 N Pacific Hwy W
Phone: (503) 623-8683
Contact: Howard Rossbach
In the early Nineties, the public's attention was turning toward red wine and distributors were hard pressed to meet the new demands: high-quality varietal wine that was vintage dated and very affordable. During those years, Howard Rossbach was visiting markets throughout the country, representing the interests of wineries from the Pacific Northwest. The plea from consumers for affordable wine could not be met by his clients, who struggled to cover the overhead of vineyards, wineries and tasting rooms.
Howard sharpened his pencils, picked up his telephone and set out to find the solution. It wasn't long before he located growers that were producing excellent Pinot Noir grapes in Oregon, a winery that had more room than it needed, and a highly-regarded winemaker with time on his hands to consult.
That was the genesis of Firesteed and the business strategy that continues to be successful for us, our growers, distributors, and wine consumers. Production of the 1992 vintage was about 7,000 cases. This year, we hope to surpass 60,000.
If you attempt to call Howard a negoçiant, you'll see him positively bristle. Although a respected profession in France, the term "negoçiant" in the U.S. connotes a scavenger, opportunistically snapping up the unsold wines of dedicated producers and pasting on a pretty label. Firesteed wines are truly destined to be Firesteed wines, from the first raindrop that trickles off the leaves in Spring.
Consistent quality is ensured by long-term contracts with carefully selected growers and with two designated wineries. Today, we are making two wines: Our well-established Pinot Noir in Oregon and a Barbera d'Asti in Italy. We are not confined to a growing region, and are free to explore the opportunities that interest our customers. As the writer Diane Teitelbaum explained in her coverage of Firesteed, "When you are 'virtual,' the world is your vineyard!"
As wine lovers ourselves, these are wines that meet our expectations: A label that looks nice in candle light and on a picnic table; superior packaging; varietals that pair well with a wide range of foods; wine that is true to its varietal and represents the best of its growing region; and the assurance that the bottle we serve this year will be as good as the one we remember three years ago. And, a reasonable price. Whenever we look at the possibility of producing a new varietal, these are the hurdles it must surpass.
Both the Oregon Pinot Noir and Barbera d'Asti have been well received by the press and have earned significant awards. All this acclaim is possible, despite a retail price just under ten dollars.
Winemaker: Bryan Croft
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