• Foundry Vineyards, located on Abadie St. in Walla Walla, WA., has shown that art and wine are a great combination.

Foundry Vineyards: How wine and art
became a love affair for the Anderson Family

A story about a brother and sister who stepped up to keep their father’s vision going.

By Jeanette McKibben

Siblings Lisa and Jay Anderson are keeping the vision of their late father, Mark, going strong at their Foundry Vineyards’ art gallery and tasting room in Walla Walla.

The past eight months have been a defining period for the owners of Foundry Vineyards and the Anderson Family. Mark Anderson, the founder of the winery and the foundry that it resides in, passed away on November 13, 2019, but his spirit is very much alive in the tasting room and art gallery. His children, Jay and Lisa, already a part of the winery, stepped up to keep his unique vision going.

“Always evolving, always changing.” Those are the words that Jay Anderson used to describe the path his father took in creating Foundry Vineyards. How else does a modern art foundry eventually expand to include a vineyard and winery?  Mark graduated from Whitman College in 1978 with a Studio Art degree and two years later opened the Walla Walla Foundry. It was his father’s idea to build a hub for community-based events, Jay said, to create an experience. “He liked to build things to build and expand on.”

And build things they did. Artists from around the world came there to cast their art.  Jim Dine, one of the artists who has worked at the Foundry on several pieces, also designed the winery’s first label. “They’ve just grown with me,” Dine said in a 1989 article in the Walla Walla Union Bulletin. “I think they’re just about the best foundry in America.”

Mark instilled a love of art in both his children. In 2002, Jay got a culinary degree from the Seattle Art Institute, then studied art history and visual art at the university of Washington, and finally went on to earn a Masters of Fine Arts degree from the School of Visual Art in New York. Eight years ago, Jay moved back to the West Coast and he uses his art and culinary training as winemaker for Foundry Vineyards.

Jay is not afraid to experiment. He is making sparkling wines under the label “Pét Project” using all organic grapes. Jay said he uses a more minimal approach to making sparkling wine. He uses basic ingredients such as indigenous yeast. And his wines contain no sulfites, which meant this writer was able to drink her first sparkling wine in 25 years. It was worth the wait. “For us,” Lisa explained, “we like to have control of what we are putting forward.” Going organic is an important part of that.

Foundry Vineyard’s current offerings of Pét Project wines include 2019 Albariño Pét Nat ($14); 2019 Field Blend Pét Nat ($32); 2019 Grüner Veltliner Pét Nat ($26); 2019 Pinot Gris Pét Nat ($29); 2019 Pinot Noir Piquette ($8); and 2019 Roussanne Pét Nat ($29).

Even before you walk into the front door of Walla Walla’s Foundry Vineyards, you get the impression that your visit will be a one-of-a-kind experience.

Lisa studied art history also, which she has a bachelor’s degree in, and a master’s degree in Business Administration. She came back to Walla Walla to run the Anderson Foundation for the Arts. She curated a show for the space and took over the books and events when the position opened. Her dad taught her to build relationships, Lisa said, to connect on levels that you’re interested in.

Connecting was easy for Lisa. She was both welcoming and knowledgeable about the wines and every piece in the curated shop in the tasting room. We chatted easily as she showed me around. I was touched by her grace as she talked of her father and the lessons he taught her and Jay. “Community is really important to us.”

That community got a little bigger when the Foundry Vineyards opened a tasting room in Seattle, near Pioneer Square. The new tasting room opened in September of 2019.  “It’s different than our tasting room in Walla Walla,” said Lisa, “it’s more café style. A different atmosphere but still feeling connected.” There will be art walks and openings of art exhibits.  “It will be a part of the art scene that is happening there,” she added.

While Jay and Lisa focus on the wine, art will always be a part of their story, and will connect them to their father. There are four shows a year, one of which is in connection with the wine label. One of those shows, the last during Mark’s life has become a living memorial to him.

Artist Kevin Stahl met Jay the first day of art school and they became good friends. They shared a studio in Brooklyn before Jay moved back to Walla Walla.  “Kevin came to the Foundry to learn techniques from my dad,” Jay said. The exhibit, “I’d Rather Sink,” explores the ideas around mortality and death. It was purely coincidence that it was showing at the same time as Mark’s passing but now stands as a tribute to him.

“For this to be the art exhibition presented at Foundry Vineyards synchronous with Mark’s passing feels uncanny and predestinate,” Stahl said. “I’m honored to have had the opportunity to show these works at Foundry Vineyards, for Mark to have seen these works completed, and for my sculptures to forever be linked to Mark’s memory.

When you visit either of Foundry Vineyards’ tasting rooms, make sure to taste one of the winery’s “Pét Project” sparkling wines made from organically grown grapes sourced from the Columbia Valley.

In addition to his Pét Project wines, Jay makes a total of 13 other wines that are currently available for purchase at the winery or via the winery’s online store, including the wine that has been the winery’s most popular for the past 10 years called White On White. Sourced from both organic and sustainable vineyards in the Columbia Valley, this wine is a blend of Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier and Grenache Blanc and sells for $24 per bottle. The 2019 vintage of White On White was aged in half stainless steel and half neutral oak for five months before bottling.

It doesn’t matter whether you like white wine or red wine or something in between, you’re sure to find a favorite in the other 12 wines that Jay makes.  His current offerings include: 2018 Oak Chardonnay ($32); 2018 Rosé ($23); 2019 Grenache Blanc ($25); 2019 Pinot Noir Rosé ($23); 2028 Steel Chardonnay ($32); 2016 Sangiovese ($36); 2017 Syrah ($36); 2017 Malbec ($38); 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon ($42); 2016 Artisan Blend ($38); 2016 Merlot ($36); and 2016 Petit Verdot ($36).

Foundry Vineyard’s Walla Walla tasting room is open under Phase 2 of Governor Jay Inslee’s plan to re-open the state’s economy. To enable Jay and Lisa to comply with state requirements that limit the number of guests that they are able to accommodate at any one time, they ask that you make a reservation for the day and time you wish to visit.   The Walla Walla tasting room is located at 1111 Abadie St, Walla Walla, WA 99362. Phone: (509) 529-0736.

The Seattle tasting room re-opened on Friday, June 19 under Phase 2. Jay and Lisa are asking that you make a reservation there as well to provide adequate space for a safe tasting experience.  The Seattle tasting room is located at 524 lst Ave. South.  To make a reservation, call: (206) 466-5378.

If you can’t get to either tasting room, you can purchase Foundry Vineyards’ wines from their online store at: www.foundryvineyards.orderport.net/wines/Current-Releases.  For more information about Foundry Vineyards, including hours of operation, guidelines that must be followed under Phase 2, etc., visit: www.foundryvineyards.com.