When Joe Leadingham planted his first Pinot Noir vines with his daughter Laura for her high school horticulture project in 2003, he didn’t know that the project would turn into a full-fledged business.
Those initial vines produced delicious fruit and because of that, he decided to plant more vines on the family land nestled just outside of Ridgefield. The grapes were perfect for winemaking, so Joe started crafting wine from each harvest. People started trying the wines and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive, so he decided to take a leap and go public with the wine.
Today, Stavalaura Vineyards and Winery produces a variety of unique wine varietals from their estate-grown grapes, including Pinot Noir, Golubok and Zweigeltrebe. They also produce other wines, like their Cabernet Sauvignon, which is made from sourced grapes grown in Eastern Washington’s Horse Heaven Hills.
The name Stavalaura reflects Joe’s love for his family, namely three special family members in his life: Valerie, Stacy and Laura. The business is still family owned, with Joe and his wife Beverly operating most of it. They also get regular help from volunteers and a part-time employee. Joe is the vineyard farmer and the winemaker, and Beverly helps run social media as well as the tasting room, which officially opened in May of 2016.
“When we started, we did everything in the tasting rooms ourselves,” Beverly said. “As we’ve gotten busier, we have gotten help … the past three years we have seen a progressive rise in revenue as more and more people have discovered that we are here.”
The Leadingham family first moved to the Ridgefield area in the mid-1990s, and they said that they never imagined that they would be able to open a winery.
“Life has sure been full of adventures and surprises,” Beverly said.
While their business adventure may have been a bit unexpected, one thing is certain – they have a passion for crafting quality wines that are unique to the area.
“We believe that our business is growing in the local community for several reasons,” Beverly said. “Joe is passionate about making good wines, and we have a community that enjoys supporting local businesses. We believe that our visitors realize how happy and grateful we are that they support us.”
While Clark County has seen more and more wineries open in the past few years, Stavalaura is still one of only a few wineries in the area that produce wines from estate-grown grapes. Furthermore, their success in growing Golubox and Zweigeltrebe grapes, which are not common in the area, is another thing that makes the business stand apart. They currently produce about 20 barrels a year of the Golubok and up to 10 barrels a year in Zweigeltrebe. Both grape varietals are Northern European grapes, and are known for their unique flavor and distinctive color.
Looking toward the future, Beverly said they hope Stavalaura continues creating beautiful wines, while growing its customer base. They also hope to increase membership in their newly formed wine club, The Sipsters.
Stavalaura Vineyards and Winery is located at 29503 NW 41st St., in Ridgefield.