Novelty Hill/Januik/Andrew Januik Wines —
Still a Family Affair After All These Years
Under the leadership of Mike Januik, the Woodinville Winery
now produces close to 50,000 cases of wine per year.
By Mark Storer
For more than 20 years, Mike Januik’s wines have been a family affair. He founded Januik Winery with his wife Carolyn in 1999, helped the Tom Alberg and Judi Beck family establish Novelty Hill in 2000, and welcomed his son’s wines crafted under the Andrew Januik Wine label to the iconic Woodinville winery in 2011.
All three independent labels originally came together under the leadership of Mike Januik, who began charting a course for Washington wine in 1984. He spent a decade serving as head winemaker at Chateau Ste. Michelle through the 1990s, until in 1999, he and Carolyn decided it was time to strike out on their own. Working with Alberg, whose family had land on the Royal Slope in eastern Washington, Mike consulted on what would become Stillwater Creek, the estate vineyard for Novelty Hill/Januik Winery.
It is Andrew Januik, Mike’s son, who spends more time these days in the winery for Novelty Hill/Januik. Mike, fellow winemaker Scott Moeller, brother Donald Januik and a small crew, produce several lines of Washington wines. Andrew started his own line of wines in 2014 called Andrew Januik Wines and added them to the Novelty Hill/Januik Winery family, and he also produces wines from South America, though those are not made here in Woodinville.
“We’ve always been involved with Novelty Hill and been there from the start,” said Andrew. “Our two wineries are very interconnected, and it’s the same winemaking team. When the fruit comes in, we know who it’s going to — and we’re not going for drastically different styles.” For Novelty Hill’s wines, the fruit comes primarily from their estate vineyard at Stillwater Creek, whereas Januik wines sources fruit from a number of Washington vineyards, Andrew said.
Andrew, at 34, moves quickly around the winery and adopts a pace that can be hard to keep up with. Moving from cellar to office, from phone call to in-person meetings, he is a veritable ball of energy. As he uses a thief to draw some wine from a barrel, he points out that he’s always worked this way. “It’s been like that since 2000,” he explained. “The vast majority of my winemaking life has been with these wineries. For me, it’s what I know and we’re so keyed in and know how things are getting done. It’s a lot of excel spreadsheets, and the not very sexy part of keeping track of everything.”
Novelty Hill/Januik and Andrew Januik Wines, combined, now make close to 50,000 cases of wine per year. Andrew is quick to point out that that number doesn’t represent the wines he makes in South America, where he’s been traveling recently to produce Southern Sojourn Wine in Argentina.
The Januiks are working with Dick Shaw who is planting a vineyard on Red Mountain, originally part of Washington’s first AVA, Yakima Valley, and should be able to source fruit from there as soon as the 2023 harvest. For Andrew, that’s as it should be. “The vast majority of our wines are sold in the state of Washington through wine club, tasting room and online sales,” he said. “There are so many unique growing regions here, and there aren’t a whole lot of the sort of middle to large tier producers here, but we’re getting there, I think. We have a lot going for us in Washington, a lot of land that has different growing regions, and so we’re not all fighting for a finite set of resources,” he said.
Even though he produces four different lines of wine, Andrew knows each wine he makes, and there is a sense of personality to each one. Januik Wines’ Cabernet Franc is one he loves, as is a Grenache he makes with his Andrew Januik Wines label called Los Molinos. “Those two wines are my favorite wines to make. They’re definitely kind of industry, or sommelier wines. There’s less weightiness, more of a vibrance and attention to those wines. They’re fun — and they’re different,” said Andrew. “I love Cabernet Franc and finding the balance that works makes it such a fun grape to work with.”
As for his Grenache Los Molinos wine, the story behind the wine goes back into his early years. “Generally, when most people think of Grenache, they think of France and the Rhone,” said Andrew. “But when I was finishing my degree at UW, I was living in Grenada, Spain. I didn’t have any money and I was buying these one or two Euro bottles of wines. And it was Garnacha (the Spanish name for Grenache) that I would buy most of the time. I lived on a street called Los Molinos, and Don Quixote had always been one of my favorite stories,” Andrew said. Los Molinos is Spanish for “the windmills.”
Novelty Hill/Januik continues to grow, and recent renovations to the Woodinville Winery, tasting room and event space highlight that growth. For Andrew, the passion of an industry he has known since his youth is still there. “I think most people in this industry would agree that there are times when you have to go and find your passion within it,” he said. “There are parts of the job that are not as easy to be passionate about. So, you go out and you find new vineyards, you push yourself on either the viticulture or winemaking edge and that’s how you keep your passion from year to year.”
He should know, his recent work in Argentina producing Bordeaux blends there under his Southern Sojourn label, along with partnering with an old friend to create a fresh-fruit infused hard seltzer line called 4 Good. It allows Andrew the diversity he craves while focusing on the quality he wants. “You have to get out of your comfort zone, and yeah sometimes those things don’t work out as well as you want, but that’s how you keep your passion from year to year,” he said. “If you’re not doing that, then it might be time to start thinking about changing industries — because this is about the easiest industry to keep your passion going in, but you have to keep moving in it, too.”
Novelty Hill-Januik Winery is located at 14710 Woodinville-Redmond Road N.E., Woodinville, WA 98072
Phone: (425) 481-5502. The best way to sample their wines is by visiting their beautiful, one-of-a-kind tasting room. If you don’t live in the Seattle area, however, you can purchase all of their wines from their on-line wine store at: store.noveltyhilljanuik.com/all-wines-c16aspx.
The wine store has more than 30 wines to choose from, including a 2018 Januik Merlot, which boasts a 90-point rating by Wine Enthusiast, priced at $40 per bottle, a 2017 Andrew Januik Inaugural Vintage Sothern Sojourn Wine, priced at $45 per bottle, and a 2020 Novelty Hill Grenache from Stillwater Creek Vineyard, priced at $20 per bottle.
One of the best ways to experience the wines of Novelty Hill-Januik Winery is by joining the winery’s Cellar Circle, a unique wine club offering an on-going selection of limited release wines as well as an insider’s look at the world of wine through education and special events. For more information about joining the Cellar Circle wine club, visit: www.noveltyhilljanuik.com/wine-club.