A Vibrant Variety

Posted in Blog, Meet the Farmers on Tuesday, August 08, 2023

A Vibrant Variety

She was from South Carolina. He was from Washington. So when her husband Greg suggested they move from Southern California to be closer to their parents, Shae Frichette wasn’t sure which coast he was referring to. After a fateful coin toss determined their destination, they found themselves in Benton City, Washington, pursuing a new dream – making bold red wines to match their personalities.

Starting with a modest 605 cases of 2011 vintage wine, Frichette Winery has grown into a thriving boutique winery, producing nearly 3,000 cases annually. Their dedication to crafting exceptional wines has earned them a loyal following and placements in reputable restaurants and shops throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Both agreed that when they moved to Washington, they wanted to create a business that would give them goosebumps. And while winemaking was new for both of them, it plays to natural strengths that both Greg and Shae had developed in other careers. When asked about her expertise, Shae humorously remarks, “Well, I drank wine. So, I mean, how much of an expert do you need to be? You get your expertise from drinking wine.”

But even a quick conversation with Shae and Greg reveals that they’re remarkably fast learners when it comes to wine. Shae is an engaging conversationalist and often takes extra time to explain the finer points of winemaking on Red Mountain. Ripe and intense are the keywords here, as she describes the presence of big, dark, berry and plum flavors in a Red Mountain cabernet sauvignon. By allowing the grapes to hang longer, they undergo transformative changes, becoming less acidic and sweeter, ultimately leading to a more robust and flavorful wine. Their winemaking process is meticulous, using a refractometer to test the grapes' sugar content and ensure perfect ripeness. 

Together, they have focused on showcasing the bold reds and Bordeaux varieties that grow so well on Red Mountain. In addition to their main label offerings like cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and malbec, Greg shows off a petit verdot that is riotously colorful with a bold, fruity flavor that pairs nicely with barbecue.

The excitement in Shae’s voice is contagious as she presents her personal favorite, a separate label named Sashay, a playful nod to her own name but which carries a profound personal meaning. Shae created the label in 2016 to inspire other women to make positive change in the world. The boldness of the wine is reflected not only in its flavor but also in the empowering message on the label: “You are strong. You are courageous. You are fierce.”

“I saw my first black female winemaker a few years ago. I had never seen a black female winemaker. I was so inspired that I wanted to create a wine that was more of an expression of me,” Shae says. “I love the word ‘sashay,’ because my mom and her sisters used to go, ‘Look at you sashaying like you don't have a care in the world.’ The wine is bold, and the back of the label says, ‘You are strong. You are courageous. You are fierce. You have the ability to create positive change in this world. So lift your chin, push your shoulders back, and sashay, girl, sashay.’”

Frichette Winery is a testament to the power of pursuing one's dreams, the beauty of the land, and the artistry of winemaking. With Shae and Greg Frichette leading the charge, the winery continues to evolve, crafting wines that embody the spirit of the Yakima Valley and leave a lasting impression on all who taste them. As you savor a glass of Frichette wine, you can't help but feel the excitement and optimism for what the future holds for this exceptional winery. Frichette Winery is an invitation to sashay through life, embracing strength, courage, and the ability to create positive change — one sip at a time.


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