Walter Scott Wines was started in 2008 by partners Ken Pahlow and Erica Landon after years of living, studying and working within the Oregon wine industry. Ken had dreams of starting his own label, but had not truly achieved his goal until Erica helped him take the leap... In the Spring of that year the two partners emptied their meager retirement accounts and used the funds to design the label and launch their dream. While there was a bit of wine during this time, it was not until the 2009 vintage that the two secured fruit from some great vineyards and Walter Scott Wines was born.
The name "Walter Scott" honors two men who meant the world to Ken. Walter, Ken's grandfather, was a flight engineer for TWA. His dreams had always become his realities, from building homes to riding motorcycles to flying planes, Walter was dynamic and adventurous, teaching Ken that there are no limits to what you can accomplish if you set your mind to it. Scott was Ken's nephew, albeit his time short, Scott was fearless, never shying away from anything, much like his great grandfather. His departure taught Ken that life is very short, if you have ambitions, you must act on them, for you never know when your chance will pass.
In 2012, Ken and Erica found a perfect little winery space in the Eola-Amity Hills that they leased from the Casteel family of Bethel Heights Vineyards. To help accomplish this move into their own space, Walter Scott needed some support, so the winery invited some friends to become part of the business. Sue and Andy Steinman joined Walter Scott just before the 2012 harvest, and jumped right in, literally! From working harvest every day, to insuring the team was well fed, and rapidly becoming family, Walter Scott could not have asked for a better addition.
Today Walter Scott Wines has grown into the small winery that Ken and Erica had envisioned with the help and support of so many. The wines represent the family, the friends and the dreams that have all helped to make this reality. The pair left their "real" jobs that had helped support the venture, allowing them both to focus all of their energy on the winery!
Ken has been helping to make wine in Oregon for more than 20 years. His experience began in 1994 with production, sales and harvests at St. Innocent Winery, working under winemaker Mark Vlossak for 14 years. In 2009, Ken joined the harvest team at Patricia Green Cellars, where he also began producing the Walter Scott wines. In 2010, Ken accepted a position with Evening Land Vineyards to manage their Northwest sales and distribution, during which time he worked harvest and studied alongside winemaker Dominique Lafon.
At the same time, Ken continued to expand his knowledge by representing world-class wine distributors. Starting in 1999 he began a 10-year stint with Vin de Garde and later worked for Galaxy Wine Company. These two portfolios represent many of the top wine estates from around the world, and provided a unique opportunity for Ken to educate his palate.
Erica comes from the world of restaurants and education, teaching over the years for both the Wine & Spirits Archive, the Wine & Spirits Education Trust and the International Sommelier Guild, where she shares her passion and excitement about wine with the students. Erica's interest in wine was ignited at the top of Mt Hood where she helped manage the wine program for Timberline Lodge's Cascade Dining Room. Eventually she crossed the Willamette Valley to the heart of Oregon's wine country where she was Sommelier and General Manager for The Ponzi Family's Dundee Bistro and then for one of Portland's top restaurants, Ten 01, which received the Best of Wine Spectator Award of Excellence under her supervision. In 2011 she took a position for Bruce Carey Restaurants as Wine Director for some of Portland's top restaurants including Bluehour, clarklewis, 23Hoyt, Saucebox, while also overseeing the programs at Tabla and Castagna.
In addition, Ken and Erica have been involved with the International Pinot Noir Celebration and the Oregon Pinot Noir Camp, where they have helped to organize the wine service, sat on the selection and planning committees, and hosted bus tours educating representatives of the wine trade and consumers. They both are involved with the Eola-Amity Hills Winegrowers Association, helping to market the region that they both are so passionate about.
In 2014, both Ken and Erica said good bye to their additional employment to focus entirely on Walter Scott.
Sue and Andy, both natives of New York, visited Oregon for the first time in 1999 and were entranced by the beauty, wine, food and people of Portland and the Willamette Valley. Already wine enthusiasts, they developed a tremendous appreciation for Oregon Pinot Noir. On one of these early trips they met Ken and Erica and became friends, never realizing what lay ahead!
After years of frequent trips to Oregon to explore Wine Country and participate in events like the International Pinot Noir Celebration, Sue and Andy decided to move to Oregon, becoming part time Oregonians in 2008 and then full time residents in 2011.
Sue, an Attorney, has developed a practice focused on the commercial and cash flow needs of wineries and has developed a great deal of knowledge and many friends in the business. Andy has a broad business background and skill in building a small business into a much larger one. Today he is a partner in DigitalPour which offers beverage managment software for Pubs, Wine Bars and Restaurants.
A casual summer lunch time conversation between old friends quickly turned into Sue and Andy joining the Walter Scott team, contributing legal knowledge, business skill, and unskilled labor to Ken and Erica's effort to make outstanding wine.
As long time wine enthusiasts and friends of Ken and Erica, joining together in Walter Scott Wines is truly a dream fulfilled for the couple.
Jess joins us from Brooks Winery where she spent 3 years as the Director of Wine Education and Communications. From 2008 until 2012, Jess served as the GM and sommelier at chef Jason French's Portland restaurant - Ned Ludd while concurrently working the 2010 and 2011 harvests at Brooks Winery. Her introduction to the Oregon wine industry was as a Hospitality Associate at Domaine Serene from 2007-2009.
To further expand her views on the interdisciplinary nature of food and wine, Jess left Oregon in 2012 to pursue a Masters degree in Food Culture and Communications; Human Ecology and Sustainability from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Piedmont, Italy. After graduation, Jess moved to Germany to intern with world-renowned Mosel Valley Riesling producer Dr. Loosen. She remained in Germany to document the cultural landscape of the Mosel Valley and work the 2013 harvest with Weingut Selbach-Oster.
With her new skills and perspective, Jess returned to Oregon to lead the charge for wine education with a focus on Riesling. She opened one of the most exciting new wine tasting rooms in America, while acting as an ambassador, educator, and marketer for Brooks and the entire Willamette Valley. In addition to her Master's, Jess holds a diploma from the International Sommeliers Guild and a BA from Louisiana State University in her hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Jess is also a Certified Sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers and received her WSET Level 3 award. Jess served on the Willamette Valley Winery Association and Eola-Amity Hills Winegrowers Association Marketing Committees, in addition to the IPNC Program Committee. Jess teaches at Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon and will be releasing her first vintage of Pierce Wines Riesling this summer.