Great Wine, Good Fun, and the Gravel Road Less Taken
We are a small family winery in Yakima, WA that handcrafts true-to-varietal Washington wine. We love the way wine evokes community, hospitality, and beauty.
Our family is excited to share our wines with you, where ever your gravel road takes you.
Gloria Gilbert | General Manager & Partner
What brought Gloria to Yakima? Simply, love. Gloria met Charlie Gilbert when they were both studying at Le Cordon Bleu in Portland. After pursuing formative experiences in the culinary world–namely assisting on Food Network programs like Giada at Home and The Pioneer Woman–she firmly planted herself in our Yakima community. When Gloria isn’t busy manning the Tasting Room or packing up Wine Club shipments, she’s on her patio sipping Rosé and enjoying married life.
Charlie Gilbert | Sales & Partner
Charlie has worn many hats in the company: from making cheese-plates, doing punchdowns, counting inventory, and currently selling wine. Charlie joined our sales team with a focus on the Pacific Northwest and now heads up all national sales. Culinary degree and all, his passion for food and has fostered relationships with restaurant owners and sommeliers during his travels around the country. Charlie enjoys skateboarding as well as consuming delicious food and wine.
Justin Neufeld | Head Winemaker & Partner
Justin showcases the flavors of the vineyards through each step of the growing and production process. Our resident wine geek, Justin has a degree in molecular biology, but outdoor pursuits (backpacking, climbing)—and a serendipitous introduction to noted Washington winemaker Doug Gore—drove him out of the lab and into the vineyards. He finessed his skills at Chateau St. Michelle, Silver Lake, and Glen Fiona before joining Gilbert Cellars in 2007.
Laura Rankin Schlect | Marketing, Sales & Partner
As a partner and member of the extended Gilbert clan (daughter of Purna Rankin, nee Gilbert) Laura is a wellspring of family lore with deep connections to Yakima—and Yakima Valley wines. Laura joined the Gilbert Cellars team in 2009 and managed the tasting room from 2010 through 2014. She has a master’s degree from Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London, and has a perennial fondness for Malbec and Rosé. She is a co-founder of the nonprofit I Heart Yakima.
Via Paxton | Event Manager
A PNW native and lover of good food and live music, Via joined the Gilbert Cellars team in the Fall of 2016 after spending 10 years in Portland, Oregon. Via has a diverse background in event planning and venue management, and is thrilled to be running events at both our downtown tasting room and our winery at The Hackett Ranch. After following her heart with a leap of faith to Yakima, she’s looking forward to new adventures and proud to call this community her home.
Hannah Rollinger | Wine Club Coordinator
Hanna joined the Gilbert Cellars Team in the Spring of 2017. She has a degree in Wine Business Management from Washington State University (Go Cougs!) and a passion for all things wine. Hanna has worked with some of the most noted wineries in Washington. Through her experience, Hanna brings an enthusiastic new energy to our wine clubs. Feel free to reach out to her with any questions regarding membership options and benefits, she is always willing to help.
Dusty Jenkins | Enologist
Dusty grew up on a peach farm in Zillah, WA, but was lured away by the big city lights of Seattle and New York. There he studied and worked in film for nearly a decade. However, after countless days editing film in a dark, windowless room, he decided to make a change. Dusty moved back to Washington to pursue a degree in Enology & Viticulture at Walla Walla Community College. During this pursuit he held positions at Seven Hills Winery and Antica Terra. Since graduating Dusty has joined the Gilbert team, where he assists Justin in crafting our wines.
Here in Yakima
Here in Yakima, Washington, our ancestors chose the agrarian life in 1897. The simple joys of our rural community, and the products it bears, still speak to us today. We come from a long line of Yakima Valley fruit growers, and have chosen to honor that legacy through winemaking. We believe that what we’re doing matters—creating wines that share a place that we love. Our work and our play are closely intertwined. Besides making our own wine, we like to make our own fun, hosting tastings, dinners and special events, especially when we can invite our favorite artists and musicians.
Outside of that, at day’s end we’d rather enjoy a meal at home on the patio, candles lit, with a bottle of wine than do almost anything else. Dinner-table conversation — enhanced by, say, a lovely Riesling or Cabernet Sauvignon — often wanders from viticulture and geology to music and the arts to mountaineering and travel tales, and a few good yarns.
Which is not to say that the pace around Yakima is strictly pastoral and bucolic. Adventure? We love it — hiking, biking, rock climbing. We even have our own landmark to scale. The turf of a herd of spry mountain goats, 8,200-foot Gilbert Peak is named for Curtiss R. Gilbert, grandfather of our winery co-founder, Curtiss M., and great grandfather to some of the rest of us.
Meg Gilbert and her father, Curtiss M., at The Cave amphitheater on the Hackett Ranch
Five generations of Gilbert family members and friends call Yakima and Gilbert Cellars home.
MEG GILBERT BRADFORD
Cofounder and Partner
Meg was a founding investor in 2004, joined daily operations in 2007, then took a four-month hiatus in 2010 to work the harvest in Marlborough, New Zealand, before returning to the family fold, where she headed national sales efforts from 2010 through 2014. “I love wine because of the journey it takes me on. A glass of wine can transport me to another country, teach me about the weather, and introduce me to new producers.” Meg now collaborates on various projects with her husband, Luke Bradford of COR Cellars and is teaching their daughter, Olivia, how to hunt for agates.
CURTISS MALLORY GILBERT
Cofounder and Partner
Curtiss M. ran Gilbert Orchards for 30-plus years, along with his brother, Cragg. You can find him these days with his basset hounds, traveling with wife Julie, or playing his guitar at The Hackett Ranch. Curt bought the Doc Stewart Vineyard in 2002, which kicked off the family’s wine pursuits. His passion for wine and good times embodies the spirit of Gilbert Cellars.
CHARLIE de la CHAPELLE
Cofounder and Partner
A fourth generation fruit grower here in the Yakima Valley, Charlie is cousin to Cragg M. and Curt M. “Our families have a tradition to celebrate often, with great foods, great discussions, and of course great wines to inspire more of the same.There isn’t a better foundation for any family or civilization.” He is pleased to see the grapes and wine bring the talent from generation five back to the land.
CRAGG McCORMICK GILBERT
Cragg M., a member of the 4th generation of Gilberts, was one of GC’s founding family members and is the go-to guy for family history. These days he devotes his time to running Gilbert Orchards with his son, Sean, growing the majority of grapes bought by Gilbert Cellars, along with apples, pears, peaches, cherries, and other fine Yakima Valley fruit. He is a partner at The Hackett Ranch’s producer of fine brandies–Glacier Basin Distillery.
Cofounder, first General Manager, and Grower
Sean was bit with the wine bug in California while studying history at Pomona College. He spent a transformative post-collegiate crush working at Januik-Novelty Hill Winery in Woodinville, Washington and was ready to lead the family into the world of wine in 2004. He currently manages Gilbert Orchards and Vineyards alongside his father, Cragg, and spends his free time with his wife Anna and their two young daughters.
Cofounder and first winemaker
While Nate has a degree in geology from Ponoma College in California, he learned winemaking through UC Davis courses, mentors, and hands-on training at Desert Hills winery in Yakima. The son of Cragg M. and Barbara, Nate served as Gilbert Cellar’s first official winemaker. Nate’s talents range from art and architecture to yoga and terrior.
When you open a bottle of Gilbert Cellars, we hope it evokes the same sense of place and sense of adventure that we feel when we create it. The Gilbert family legacy is one of commitment, community and adventure, and Gilbert Peak is the perfect symbol to celebrate our history and our future. Our first wines featuring the new Gilbert Peak label were released in March 2014, the same year we celebrated ten years of our family winery, and 117 years of farming in Yakima, Washington.
The Gilbert Peak Label merges the elements of legacy, inspiration, vitality and terroir that are present throughout Gilbert Cellars’ family winery.
LEGACY | In 1918, Curtiss Richey Gilbert returned to Yakima from the trenches of World War I, determined to lead the next generation in developing their orienteering skills while spending his time in the beautiful Cascade Mountains — especially the Goat Rocks Wilderness. He became an avid hiker as well as a respected local scout leader. Among his many descendants are Meg Gilbert Bradford, Laura Rankin, and Charlie Gilbert — Gilbert Cellars’ partners (and cousins).
When Curtiss died in 1947, his most frequent hiking partner, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, decided to name the highest point in the Goat Rocks Wilderness in Curtiss’ honor. Mt Curtiss Gilbert, aka Gilbert Peak, was officially dedicated in 1949. The family celebrated the 10th anniversary of the dedication with an organized hike, which continued each decade following. In 1997, the centennial anniversary of the Gilbert’s move to Yakima vibrant 80 member hiking party marked the occasion. An annual tradition took hold.
INSPIRATION | The mountains were a special place for Curtiss, as well as Justice Douglas. Gilbert Cellars is formed in the same spirit of adventure and exploration. In Of Men and Mountains, Douglas wrote,
“If throughout time the youth of the nation accept the challenge the mountains offer, they will help keep alive in our people the spirit of adventure….A people who climb the ridges and sleep under the stars in high mountain meadows, who enter the forest and scale the peaks, who explore the glaciers and walk ridges buried deep in snow—these people will give their country some of the indomitable spirit of the mountains.”
VITALITY | Gilbert Peak is more than just a place, or even a family honor — it is also inherently linked to the vitality of agriculture in Yakima. As the main watershed for the upper Yakima Valley, Gilbert Peak’s glacial melt forms the Tieton River — the water that feeds acres of vineyards and orchards and supports the agricultural bounty of this beautiful region.
TERROIR | On an even bigger scale, Washington’s viticultural ties to the mountains are indelible. As Jancis Robinson reminds us, “Washington’s wine story really began fifteen million years ago, when the region experienced chaotic volcanic activity. Lava flows hardened into the basalt bedrock that covers much of the Northwest today. Cataclysmic floods followed, resulting from glaciers moving south from Canada and stopping at the Clark Fork River in the Idaho Panhandle. This enormous piece of ice formed a natural dam, creating Lake Missoula. The dam eventually burst with the “Missoula Floods” depositing sand, silt, granite, and quartz throughout the region — a cycle that would repeat itself many times over. Winds spread this matter to the surrounding hills, and volcanic eruptions in the Cascades added ash to the already-complex soils.”
The Ahtanum Ridge, which is prominently featured in the view from The Hackett Ranch where we produce our wines, was created by these ancient laval flows. The east-west Ridge, one of many in our region, creates near-ideal vine growing conditions. South facing slopes get the best sun and the steep ridge creates great drainage conditions.
The Gilbert roots in Yakima begin in 1897, when Horace Mark “H. M.” and Marion Gilbert—adventurers, doers, and visionaries—move from Illinois to Washington State. Marion leaves behind a teaching post to build a Victorian-style home in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest; H. M. leaves a career in corn farming and hog ranching to try his hand at fruit growing…
1897 | H. M. and Marion buy 20 acres of sagebrush in Yakima for $50 an acre.
1898 | H. M. and Marion clear the land, build a barn, plant their first orchard and vineyard, and, over the next decade, have a 13-room Victorian-style farmhouse constructed with plans from a mail-order catalog. It has an outhouse and, eventually, a gazebo and tennis courts.
1900s | H. M. partners with numerous family members in various land developments and business ventures, including a bank and hardware store in nearby Toppenish. H. M. makes a weekly 40-mile round-trip commute to Toppenish by train.
1910 | H. M. and Marion buy 160 acres in Yakima to plant with apples, pears, and peaches.
1913 | H. M. and Marion, who view travel as education, take the kids on a six-month trip through Europe and Asia. (Marion valued travel and paid for the trip with proceeds from her 1912 peach crop that she and Curtiss managed near their homestead.)
1918 | H. M. and Marion’s eldest son, Curtiss R. Gilbert, returns to Yakima from the trenches of WWI and devotes himself to starting a family, exploring the Goat Rocks Wilderness, Scouting, and leading the next generation of Gilberts in farming and fruit-growing.
1920 | H. M. and Marion buy the Hackett Ranch and plant 350 of its acres with orchards.
1925 | H. M. and Marion explore South America with many of their seven kids in tow.
1929 | H. M. and Marion travel by ship to South Africa without the kids.
1931 | Marion takes a trip around the world, traveling solo.
1934 | H. M. passes away at age 72. Marion stays on at Gilbert Homeplace.
1934–1945 | Marion and the extended Gilbert clan in both Washington and Illinois pull together to see the family businesses through the Great Depression.
1946 | Curtiss R. teams up with two other scoutmasters to take 18 Boy Scouts on what becomes Yakima legend—an epic road trip across America in a pickup truck.
1947 | Curtiss R. passes away, age 53.
1948 | Cragg D., son of Curtiss R. and Anne (Richey) Gilbert, returns from WWII and college to run the family businesses.
1949 | The former hiking buddy of Curtiss R., Yakima native Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, has the highest point in Washington State’s Goat Rocks Wilderness—Gilbert Peak—named in Curtiss R.’s honor.
1951 | Marion passes away, age 84. Gilbert Homeplace is sold to new owners who spend the next 30 years maintaining the property.
1959 | The family hikes Gilbert Peak together to commemorate the tenth anniversary of its dedication to Curtiss R.
1969 | Second commemorative Gilbert Peak hike.
1972 | Surgeon-turned-fruit grower George Stewart plants two dozen acres of vines amid what becomes Doc Stewart Vineyard in the Wahluke Slope AVA—today one of the top viticultural areas in the state.
1979 | Third commemorative Gilbert Peak hike.
1982 | The Gilbert family buys back Gilbert Homeplace and, with the help of the newly formed Friends of Gilbert Homeplace, donates it to the Yakima Valley Museum.
1982–2001 | Doc Stewart Vineyard is planted with Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Petit Verdot, and Malbec.
1989 | Fourth commemorative Gilbert Peak hike.
1997 | 120 Gilbert family members and friends turn out for the centennial celebration of H. M. and Marion’s move to Yakima back in 1897. A record 74 of them scale Gilbert Peak.
1999 | The Gilbert Peak commemorative hike becomes an annual summer tradition.
2002 | Curtiss R. and Anne’s (aka Grannie Annie) grandsons, Curtiss M. and Cragg M., buy Doc Stewart Vineyard from the Stewart family. Curtiss M. produces the first Gilbert Cellars wine for Gilbert family consumption.
2003 | Sunrise Vineyard is established on the Hackett Ranch and planted with Riesling.
2004 | A small group of Gilberts form a new winemaking venture as Gilbert Cellars, under the leadership of Cragg M.’s sons, Sean and Nate. Sean acts as the company’s first general manager and Nate as its first winemaker.
2005 | Sunrise Vineyard is planted with Gewürztraminer.
2007 | Curtiss M. and Cragg M. plant 24K Vineyard with Grenache, Mourvèdre, Tempranillo, and Cabernet Franc. Curtiss M.’s daughter Meg Gilbert joins the family wine business, hand selling wine in the Seattle market. Justin Neufeld joins Gilbert Cellars as head winemaker.
2008 | Nine Canyons Vineyards is planted with Carménère, Mourvèdre, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Grenache, Nebbiolo, and Malbec. The Gilbert Cellars Tasting Room opens in Yakima on the cusp of downtown revitalization.
2009 | Sunrise Vineyard is planted with Chardonnay and more Gewürztraminer. Laura Rankin, niece of Curtiss M. and Cragg M., joins Gilbert Cellars as Tasting Room Manager and Cellar Gallery Curator.
2010 | Peach 10 and Tissel vineyards are planted with Chardonnay. Meg Gilbert travels to New Zealand to work the harvest in Marlborough as part of the WWOF program for four months.
2011 | Nine Canyons Vineyard is planted with Bordeaux varietals. Jessica Moskwa joins Gilbert Cellars as general manager.
2012 | Curtiss M. retires from Gilbert Orchards.
2014 | Gilbert Cellars marks its tenth vintage, launching the Gilbert Peak label to celebrate a decade of winemaking.