Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Visions of Bordeaux on Red Mountain; Hedges Family Estate

from Emily Popp

Every routine, every production, every tangible figurine, cities and belief systems were merely visions at one point in time.

It’s a beautiful thing when one’s vision becomes reality. I experienced just this upon meeting Anne-Marie and Tom Hedges. Together, they turned their dream into a routine, into a chateau, into bottles and bottles of elegant wines, into tangible reality and way of life, and here’s just the very small glimpse of their story that I was fortunate enough to observe:

We drove by fields of vines, following our GPS set for the Hedges Family Estate on Red Mountain. A perfect replica of a storybook French chateau grew larger in our windshield. Where we parked, ours was the only vehicle in sight and it occurred to me that we might be the only guests of this monumental building. I couldn’t help but feel slightly intimidated, but we proceeded around front despite.

A wide arched set of French doors sat beneath an even wider balcony as the center focal point of the statuesque residence and I wondered whether that balcony or my current position offered a better view. Parallel with the stucco exterior, symmetrical rows of low shade trees would guide visitors from left or from right. Where the rows would have met, a fountain patio parted them, offering cool shaded views of the vast rolling fields.

The French doors opened, and the Hedges family welcomed us in, thus beginning a three-hour whirlwind of magnificence. They treated us to a tour of the estate and various bottles of estate grown, blended and bottled wines. We learned that the Hedges family not only made such delicious wine, but they also built much of the chateau themselves. We also learned their story and how their vision progressed into what it is today:

Anne-Marie was born in Champagne, France, where her upbringing was very much routed in traditional French culture and Tom was born in Richland, Washington, a product of the traditional American home. They fell in love and married in the later part of the 70s, bringing two distant cultures and distinct families together, yet a shared family-business mindset.

Ten years after the wedding they put that mindset to work with the creation of a wine export company based in Kirkland, WA. As opportunities arose and their vision developed, Anne-Marie and Tom molded their company, bit by bit into the classic European model of a wine estate and what is now Hedges Family Estate.

After our tour, we sat for a decadent lunch and discussed wine’s place in history and culture. Here we were in a new world wine region, sipping ‘99s and 2010s in a chateau that very much resembled that of the legendary Chateaux Haut-Brion. I couldn’t help but conclude that this was the epitome of all wine experiences: to enjoy the glorious wines on the very grounds where they were grown, authentically presented in a beautiful chateau the way wine has been shared in the old world for generations.

Three hours of the afternoon had melted away, and it was time to say good-bye. Waving, I thought how wonderful it was to have spent time with such inspiring people. Anne-Marie and Tom expressed such a passion for their dream and that passion seems to have been all they needed. Now they share their dream with all who enjoy their wines. Their story is a muse for all dreamers and visionaries. This life is yours to make of it what you will.


Post a Comment