Bottleology – Bob Delf of Northwest Cellars: “Wine. Now it gets personal.™”
October 12, 2009 by Dave Bender
The man, the myth, the legend: Bob Delf of Northwest Cellars started learning about wine when he was 20 years old—his parents are in the wine importing business. His education is heavy in computer math and computer science. In addition Bob has a business degree. He’s been head honcho at several software companies and the Canadian loves the idea of building companies.
His head scratching, AH HA moment: “About five or six years ago someone had given me a private labeled bottle of wine. First of all, the label was kind of cheesy looking. Well I opened it and it was just terrible, I mean just pour down the sink—you wouldn’t even cook with it, it was that bad (Bob sends his apologies to the gift giver). I then thought, there must be a wine market for quality wine that people would actually enjoy drinking. So that’s what I’ve been going after for the past 5 years.”
Here’s the deal: Northwest Cellars is a custom labeling facility that cherry picks an endless array of already made wine from all over the state, from wineries that have more wine than they know what to do with. Bob doesn’t make the wine, he does only the blending and selection work, with the occasional tweak. Bob buys, bottles and sells this wine under custom labels created by customers for; special events, restaurants, hotels, corporate and personal gifts, private clubs, non–profit fundraisers, and regional or community–based projects, as well as special occasions such as weddings, anniversaries, birthdays and grand openings. In addition this wine is also bottled under the Northwest Cellars label and sold in a retail fashion.
Making the cut: 95% of the wine that people send Bob as samples don’t make the cut. He note’s “there’s a lot of bad wine out there.”
In the words of The Road Runner “Beep Beep”: Quickly on its feet, Bob launched sales efforts and was able to build the brand at a pretty fast pace.
Year 1- 600 cs.
Year 2 – 1,200 cs.
Year 3 – 2,700 cs.
Year 4 – 2,500 cs. (economy)
His goal: Grow the business to 10,000 or 20,000 cases.
Music to my ears: Bob loves music and is a Pianists—for several years, he even played at Nordstrom’s. His stage name is “Bobby D.”
Message in a bottle: Bob’s 2005 Merlot is one of the biggest award winners currently available. The most pleasing is the Double Gold award in the Finger Lakes International of 3,000 wine entries. A double gold is awarded when a unanimous decision is made by all the judges, there were 7 judges in this case. In total 3,000 cases of this wine was made, surprisingly it was oaked using oak chips, a.k.a. staves. What would have cost $1,300 per barrel, cost Bob $500 total, and it was completed in only 8 weeks vs. the typical 12 to 18 months. You’ll appreciate the $17 price point I assure you.
FREE, FREE, FREE: Stop into Northwest Cellars tasting room before November 21, 2009 and enter to win FREE tickets to “20Something” – a Freemont Studios wine event. Featured are more than 75 of the hottest Washington winemakers pouring their $30 and under favorites, and the trendiest up-and-coming chefs serving delicious culinary treats. Of course, the 35 and under “at heart” are welcome as well. The event is for ALL present and future fans of Washington wine. These tickets are valued at $100.
Sharing is caring: Northwest Cellars, 2005 Intrigue, Columbia Valley – 50% Merlot, 28% Syrah, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot
The blending process of winemaking can be compared to customizing your ideal mate (if we could only do so). In this case this wine was made with the female drinker in mind. Ladies, Bob found you some charming mild ethnicity–it’s exemplative in the fennel root notes and cocoa from a far off land. This hunk of a wine manages to maintain its All American red wine spirit via native North American red current flavors, Washington cherry plums and mild oak Americana. This stud is also obviously confident. It’s crafted with a firm, mildly tannic handshake, which lets you go with ease. The dark fruit flavor beef up its character by way of some black liquorish biceps. This one is drinking quite well now, however its girthy 750 milliliters will only improve over the next 2-4 years. Ladies, thank Bob Delf. Gentleman don’t get jealous, this masculine wine’s like your best bro. $22/1,000 cs.
Acclaim: 90 pts. Wine & Spirits, Bronze Metal Fingerlakes International, Vintners Honor Seattle Wine Awards
11909 124th Avenue NE
Kirkland, WA 98034
For an interview please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org