A Red Mountain winery dream comes to fruition

Loretto J. Hulse, Tri-City HeraldJanuary 8, 2014 

Frichette Winery

Greg and Shae Frichette have opened Frichette Winery outside of Benton City. With the help of Charlie Hoppes, owner of Fidelitas Wines in Benton City as their consulting winemaker, the couple are gaining notoriety.

PAUL T. ERICKSON — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

When Shae and Greg Frichette decided to change careers and open a winery on Red Mountain, they nearly wore out their knuckles knocking on doors.

The two ambitious winemakers, who were living in Southern California at the time, spent a couple of years visiting the Tri-Cities and everyone on Red Mountain, looking for land.

"We knew this is where we wanted to be, but there's not a lot of land for sale here," said Greg Frichette.

But they were determined because Red Mountain is known as one of the premier wine producing areas in the Northwest.

The Frichettes heard a lot of no's before one couple finally said, "yes, they'd sell."

"They had actually said 'no' four times. Then they thought about it and contacted us. We bought the property -- five and a half acres -- in May 2012," he said.

The Frichettes moved from California to Benton City in April 2013, hired a contractor and began turning a pole building on the property into their winery and tasting room.

"We liked drinking wine, but didn't know much about making it. But our neighbors have been wonderful. They're super supportive," said Shae Frichette.

One of those neighbors is Charlie Hoppes, owner of Fidelitas Wines in Benton City and described by Great Northwest Wine as one of Washington's most respected red winemakers. He's their consulting winemaker.

The Frichettes used his production facility to make their first vintages -- a 2011 reserve blend, a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Merlot, a red table wine and a Semillon.

"People seem to like them," said Shae Frichette, adding that sales are good. "It helps when you work with growers who take care of their vines like they are their first born."

Greg Frichette grew up in Pasco where his parents, Jay and Marcia Frichette, still live. His wife's family is in South Carolina.

"We knew we wanted to leave California and be closer to our families. But which one?" he said.

Deciding to open a winery made the choice easier.

"We spent a lot of vacations up here and she really liked it. But then, I always made sure we came when it was warm. This cold -- it's kind of a shock for her," he joked.

While working at the winery, Greg Frichette still does information technology work for the company he worked for while living in Southern California.

"I just do it long distance now," he said.

Shae Frichette left her job as a management trainer to become a full-time mom and winery owner.

"I'm back to knocking on doors. I do the marketing, distribution, work in the tasting room, event planning, whatever, I'm your girl," she said.

The winery/tasting room includes a 2,200-square-foot event room where the Frichettes hold special wine and food tastings for six to 20 people. Cost for the special tasting is $20 per person.

"We blend learning about wine with how to identify certain types and how to pair them with different foods," he said.

The winery is at 39412 N. Sunset Road, Benton City. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily. The website is frichettewinery.com or look for the winery on Facebook.

-- To submit business news, go to bit.ly/bizformtch.

-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; lhulse@tricityherald.com

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