WE LOVE THE WAY WINE EVOKES COMMUNITY, HOSPITALITY AND BEAUTY. LET US SHARE OUR WINES WITH YOU, WHEREVER 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 running around the winery, she’s on her patio sipping Rosé and enjoying life with Charlie, and their daughters Daisy and Daria.
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 & 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.
Shannon Couette | Direct-to-Consumer Coordinator
Shannon joined the Gilbert Cellars team part-time in August of 2016 after moving back to the Yakima Valley from Seattle. After a rewarding career in sales and administration, she decided to make a major career change in early 2021 to focus more on the wine industry. Early 2022 brought more change as Shannon assumed the role as the direct-to-consumer coordinator at Gilbert Cellars, taking the lead on all things tasting room & wine club. Outside of the winery, you can find her enjoying the best things in life: wine, food, music, family, friends, and of course her doodle-mix, Birdie.
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.
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.
Eric Schlect | Logistics
Coming from a fourth-generation fruit-growing family in the Yakima Valley, Eric feels a strong connection to the sage-laden hills, hollows, and abundant growing conditions. Despite plans to pursue a career in radio, he found himself fortuitously connected to the Gilbert family through the marriage of his brother to Gilbert Cellars partner and marketing director, Laura (née Rankin) Schlect. After a variety of jobs, including on the family farm, Eric has found himself in the warm embrace of the Gilbert clan. Doing a bit of everything has kept things fresh and interesting, but most days you can find him pouring wine and chatting with customers old and new.
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 daughters, Olivia & Delphine, how to hunt for agates.
CURTISS MALLORY GILBERT
Cofounder and Partner
Curtiss ran Gilbert Orchards for 30 plus years. Retired now, he can be found overseeing Hackett Ranch Apple production, tending to Chardonnay grapes on the Peach Ten Vineyard, traveling, and, most importantly, bouncing one of his four granddaughters on his knee.
JULIE RANKIN GILBERT
Cofounder and Partner
Julie’s eye for design has come in handy on more than one occasion. She has consulted on a myriad of projects, including the winery building, landscaping, and property maintenance. And recently she’s taken on the role of doting grandmother.
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.
Here in Yakima
We are fifth generation Yakima Valley fruit growers. Gilbert Cellars is our way to both honor our family’s legacy and put our own stamp on the Valley we call home. We believe that what we’re doing matters—creating wines that celebrate the terroir we love. And through hosting tastings, dinners and special events, we’re not just creating wine, but fostering a community.
At day’s end, our joy comes from a meal at home on the patio, candles lit and conversation flowing (perhaps enhanced by a lovely Riesling or Cabernet Sauvignon). We share stories of our day, the world around us, and often about where we come from. Did you know we even have our own geological landmark? 8,200-foot Gilbert Peak, part of the Cascade mountain range, is named for Curtiss R. Gilbert, grandfather of our winery co-founder, Curtiss M., and great grandfather to some of the rest of us.
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 Schlect, 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.