FROM THE DESK OF
Nancy Flynn Thurston
This story starts in January of 2011 when I purchased a giant hull of an abandoned house that stood for 3 years with no roof, no windows or doors and bare foam exterior walls, south of Kennewick, Washington. The property included six acres that surrounded the abandoned house. As I contemplated mowing and watering six acres of lawn, I began to imagine an alternative; how gorgeous would it be if I was surrounded by my very own vineyard? I mean, I am in the heart of Washington Wine Country after all!
We planted the front acre of grapes in 2014 with the plan being to take good care of them for 2-3 years, press the fruit at the third year and put the wine in neutral oak barrels. At this point, we had no idea the quality of the wine and thought the quick and easy solution was to sell the barrels of wine to wineries who wanted to offer a Carménère choice. Tasting the 3rd leaf vintage after 6 months in the barrel was one of the most exciting things in this whole process! David looked at me and said "This is unbelievably good and it will only get better!" I promptly ordered French Oak barrels from Bordeux to be delivered for the 2017 vintage!
I started to explore different grape varietals with two things in mind: 1) I want to plant grapes for a wine that I love and, 2) I want to plant something that will thrive and flourish where I live. This area is hot and sandy, receiving little to no rain during the growing season and with cool spring and fall nights. I must admit that Cabernet Sauvignon was the prime choice but I wanted something a bit more unique and happily discovered a little known Bordeaux style grape that very few people in my area were growing: CARMÉNÈRE. That decision was solidified when I found a winemaker, David Stephenson, who knew how to make a great Carménère.
The next task was to come up with a name and label for my winery. Naoi Cailini Óga (spoken Nï Ca-lē-nē Ō-ga) means 'Nine Young Maidens' in Gaelic. It is hard to say, not to mention hard to spell, but the name is special to me. My maiden name is Flynn and my great grandparents immigrated to the US from Ireland in 1883. I have 8 sisters, nine girls in all, and this name felt like the perfect way to honor my Irish heritage and my family.
In developing the label I, personally, made several ink drawings while sitting in my vineyard, as well as group drawings of me and my sisters. The label incorporates these drawings with the vineyard’s name in a lovely Irish font.
In 2016 I planted an additional two acres of Carménère on the south side of the house, as it really has proven to be a terrific site for this particular varietal. The process of growing, tending, and harvesting my own fruit and then using only that fruit to bottle this wine has been a unique experience that I never imagined I would have and love. It has become a personal passion of mine and I look forward to sharing it with you.