by Chamidae Ford
This Juneteenth, on the cusp of Seattle’s record-breaking heatwave, Nicole Camp and her husband and daughter opened the doors to Lashelle Wines.
Located in Woodinville, this Black- and female-owned winery is only the second of its kind in Washington State. The winery features private tastings of a wide array of wines, from Marsannes to Cabernet Sauvignon.
Although the winery has only been open since the beginning of summer, Camp has been interested in winemaking for years. In the early 2000s, while raising her children, Camp began to experiment with mead-making by turning to the fruit in her yard.
“I did a version of winemaking with mead because we had apples and pears in our backyard. And my very first trial was actually more along the moonshine aspect, very high, very kind of bitter. And then just going along, practicing, looking, and trial and error,” Camp said. “When I realized that Whole Foods and Metropolitan Market actually sold wine grapes just for people to eat, then that’s when I realized, ‘Yes, I want to actually do this,’ because I had that opportunity to play with real grapes on a much smaller scale.”
In 2015, Camp realized she was interested in making wine on a more professional level and began taking classes at the Northwest Wine Academy in South Seattle. Following that, she enrolled in a 1.5-year-long internship with T2 Cellars in SODO. She opted for a yearlong program rather than the typical quarter-long training required so she could fully immerse herself in the process of winemaking from start to finish.
“… instead of it being the traditional one quarter, I did [my internship] for a year and a half intentionally so that I could see things from start to finish more than just be a laborer. And in that process, I started making some wine through [Todd Threlkeld at T2], under him, and with his watchful eye,” Camp said.
Through that experience, Camp was able to learn the types of wine that she prefers and the quality of products she wants to provide to the community, and that is reflected in her finished collection. On why she selected particular types of wine she said, “I pretty much chose what I like.”
It’s been a whirlwind experience getting everything going, but Camp credits the wonderful support system that she has surrounded herself with.
“It’s been crazy — but nice,” Camp said. “Fortunately I have a husband who has been very supportive of the whole scenario. He actually kind of made me jump in the water feet first and into the deep end much quicker than I anticipated. I actually wanted to sit another year. [But] he has always been that person who was just like, ‘You can do this — we’re going to get you going.’”
As Lashelle Wines continues and grows, Camp is hopeful of bringing more Black people into her process. She aims to create space for Black folks to get involved in a historically white industry. Last year, alcohol industry magazine SevenFifty Daily ran a survey and found that 84% of the 3,100 professionals in the industry who responded were white.
“My goal is to actually, interestingly enough, I want to employ Blacks,” Camps said. “I want … more Blacks involved in wine in one form or another. There’s a lot of us who do one side of it but never all of it. And so my goal is to hopefully have my whole entire crew from hands to the ones that you’re talking with in the tasting room to be African American.”
Overall, Camp describes Lashelle Wines as a place that is ultimately “more about girl power and to see that Women of Color can do this and kick butt.”
Chamidae Ford is a recent journalism graduate of the University of Washington. Born and raised in Western Washington, she has a passion for providing a voice to the communities around her. She has written for The Daily, GRAY Magazine, and Capitol Hill Seattle. Reach her on IG/Twitter: @chamidaeford.
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