Succession Wines: It’s a story of adaptation
and a re-evaluation of what’s important in life.
Owners Brock and Erica Lindsay knew they might have something special
when they sold their first vintage out of the back of their pick-up truck.
By Madeline Nelson
Adaptation in the face of hardship; this is the key to the success behind the husband and wife team of Brock and Erica Lindsay at Succession Wines.
The story behind the couple’s rise from the ashes quite literally begins with a series of life changing events that included the birth of their first child, followed just weeks later by the loss of their home in Brewster, WA., due to the Carlton Complex Fire. Having lost nearly everything, they re-evaluated what was most important to them and knew they needed to put passion and family first to pursue a business and lifestyle they had only dreamed of before.
Brock’s interest in wine had begun several years earlier when he spent six months in Rome attending college. In Italy, wine is a part of daily life, a way of life if you will, fostering a sense of community that brings people together through good, as well as difficult times. This experience left an impression on Brock and became something he wanted to recreate back home.
Looking back on this experience provided the foundation for the motivation the family needed to take a new direction and re-build their lives around the wine industry and the community that grows with it.
With an insatiable hunger to learn as much as possible about the winemaking process and the grapes themselves, Brock enrolled in Washington State University’s Viticulture and Enology program and began working as the vineyard manager at Antonie Creek Vineyards, located along the banks of the Columbia River just outside of Chelan, WA.
In 2015, Brock and Erica found an empty lot along the north shore of Lake Chelan on the way to Manson, WA. and in 2016 began construction on what is now their winery and tasting room.
With stunning scenic lake vistas and three wineries nearby, the location could not have been better. With dozens of inquisitive visitors stopping by during the building process, Brock and Erica met with immediate success, quickly selling out of their first vintage right out of the back of their pick-up truck.
A year later, in January of 2017, the doors of the winery were open and they began offering tastings, bottle sales, and events. Not long after Succession began racking up numerous awards and notable recognition, consistently selling out of every vintage each year, it drove the growth and production of this small boutique winery to produce more and more wine each year.
So, what is it that makes Succession wines so incredible? The answer lies in Brock’s approach to winemaking. He works closely in the vineyards he owns and manages, as well as with other vineyard managers he sources fruit from. This allows him the opportunity to build an intimate understanding of the grape and how each region and its Terroir effects future vintages. Applying this knowledge to his winemaking style, it is clear his wines are the perfect balance between regional and fruit driven.
Brock’s primary focus is to produce high-quality wines reflective of the AVA in which the fruit was grown and showcasing the varietal characteristics that utilize 100% of each grape variety, delivering a clear, clean representation of what Washington wine is at its core. Sourcing his fruit from Antonie Creek as well as from Succession’s own estate vineyards, Brock also acquires grapes from all over Washington, including notable vineyards such as Clos Chevalle, Famiglia, Weinbau, Gamache, Bacchus, Quintessence, and The Rocks.
By selecting each region’s varietals based on what they grow best, Brock incorporates his respect for the grape by bringing many different varieties to Succession’s repertoire, including a wide ranging combination of whites such as Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Viognier, as well as red wines such as Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Syrah and Petite Verdot.
Recently, I had the opportunity to taste several of the winery’s best-selling wines, and here’s what I found.
2019 Viognier: This is a wine that boasts aromatic tones of fresh cut flowers and summer ripe peaches. On the palate, it emotes vibrant notes of stone fruits such as fresh apricots and tangerines, all culminating into this wine’s refreshing reprieve from the summer heat on the patio overlooking the dramatic backdrop of Lake Chelan.
2019 Sauvignon Blanc: A personal favorite of mine, this wine expresses a delicate bouquet of white blossoms, honeydew melons, and subtly sweet lemon. It delivers a blend of soft lemon-lime zest, tart green apple, and beautifully integrated notes of tropical fruits.
2018 Oscar: Another note-worthy favorite of the darker persuasion, this wine is lovingly named after the winery dog. This Merlot showcases a luxurious fruity essence consisting of rich plums, dark cherries, ripe raspberries, and smooth vanilla. Herbal notes of bay leaf lend structure and body to the smooth tannins that will inevitably help this wine to age gracefully, just as the winery’s loyal best friend.
2018 Cabernet Sauvignon: Structured and bold, this full-bodied Cab is the perfect expression of balance between oak, tannin, and fruit. This vintage conveys elevated top notes of dark red berries and cherries, alongside a complex swirl of vanilla, clove, cedar and black pepper on the mid palate. The many layers of this wine are sure to meld in a pleasing manner, if you can resist the urge to drink it and cellar this bottle for a few years.
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, demand for Brock’s wines has not waned, nor has the desire for their visitors to experience some semblance of the hospitality Succession Wines provides. Moving forward, the winery has enforced the various rules and regulations set in place by the state to operate in a manner that keeps their company and community as safe as possible, while adapting to the new norm in a way that still focuses on providing a comfortable and intimate atmosphere for guests to relax and enjoy themselves.
Moving forward requires flexibility and patience on a playing field full of changes, and as Brock and Erica have overcome their hardships in the past, they plan to continue embracing the changes of their future. With an “all or nothing” and a “figure it out as we go” mentality, these two have not let the chance to re-commit to their contracts with their fruit sources for better blocks and better vineyards pass them by.
With new opportunities on the horizon, Brock and Erica have begun paving the path for the upcoming release of their Black Label wines. These are vineyard designate, barrel select wines that are produced from grapes that are grown in the most regarded vineyards in the state. They are produced in very limited quantities, roughly 100 cases of each vintage.
Staying nimble, being adaptative and open to take change in a positive direction is how their winery came to be. Now, once again, Brock and Erica are ready to embrace the essence of “succession” to take the next step required for success, whatever that may be.
Succession Wines is located at 78 Swartout Rd, Manson, WA 98831. If you can’t get to the winery, you can order all of their wines by calling (509) 888-7611. Or you can order from their on-line store at: www.successionwines.com and have your order shipped to you.
Fall is a great time to visit Lake Chelan. What could be better than experiencing the region’s striking fall colors with the crisp taste of a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.