Sip on a glass of wine, create beautiful glass art and enjoy a tasty meal.
Experience friendly hospitality at Barnard Griffin located in Richland, Washington State. This winery campus has been a family operation for over four decades. Head Winemaker Rob Griffin and his wife, Co-Owner Deborah Barnard, lead the way in creating wines at every price point.
Discover the passion and dedication behind Barnard Griffin as their daughter, Megan Hughes, carries on the winemaking legacy as the second-generation winemaker and enologist. This family’s lifelong dream is to bring the finest wines to your glass and make your wine experience memorable.
In addition to wine tasting, Barnard Griffin features a patio area, The Kitchen restaurant open for lunch and dinner, and a fused glass art gallery. The studio hosts many glass fusing classes, and the winery displays beautiful pieces Deborah Barnard created.
We interview Megan Hughes to learn more.
What type of wine do you specialize in?
Megan Hughes, Barnard Griffin Second Generation Winemaker and Enologist: Washington State is uniquely situated climatically to produce premium wines of many varieties. To say we have a specialty is probably not fair, in my opinion.
This is mainly due to many different growing regions and soils across our state; western Washington high precipitation and organic soil regions, northern Washington with higher elevations and rockier soils and our home Columbia Valley with low elevation, sparce precipitation and sandy loam soils.
Megan Hughes: Barnard Griffin’s largest production wine is an intentionally made Rose of Sangiovese. Sangiovese is not what you would immediately think of as Washington’s best grape. Yet Rob, my dad and mentor, knew early on that the acid and flavor that the grapes produce here would make a stellar dry Rose. Rob also had a friend who years back planted Sangio and needed a home for the grapes.
Luckily, it worked out for all in the end!
Megan Hughes: Barnard Griffin was built on Chardonnay in our house style which is barrel fermented and sur lei aged. Other notable favorites include Cabernet, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Alberino. I’ve also begun producing a sparkling Chardonnay called Gorge. To say we are a family owned and operated winemaker business is an understatement!
Share a popular tasting experience?
Megan Hughes: Our tasting rooms offer several unique experiences. At this Richland location, we have food and wine pairings which change seasonally and many menu options are driven by local grower offerings.
We also offer an interactive fused glass experience spearheaded by my mom Deborah and my sister Elise at Db Studio.
What makes your wine unique?
Megan Hughes: We pride ourselves on having amazing and long-term relationships with some of the best growers and vineyards in the state. My dad (Rob) has 47+ years of experience making wine with some in the industry calling him ‘The Dean of Washington wine.’
For me, it’s special to walk blocks with my dad and discover potential within the rows. Great wine starts in the field and we are constantly in our partner vineyards watching the grapes grow, working with the growers to make adjustments as necessary and enjoying the family and Washington State wine community.
What’s one thing you wish more people knew about your winery?
Megan Hughes: My main hope is that individuals know we are a tangible family owned and operated business. We make wine that is meant to be part of everyday life. We make intentional decisions to maintain an approachable price point. You will see us in person working at our locations, you will see photos of our family on the walls and you will experience a piece of our family legacy.
How did you get started in the wine industry?
Megan Hughes: I often say wine chooses you and that’s certainly true in my case. I was born into this industry. Having my parents (Rob and Deborah) set an example for me really sparked my interest. I recall early on watching them in the family business, helping them slap labels on bottles and truly realizing how much they loved to share what they had created.
I knew the satisfaction of working hard and producing something with my own hands that consumers were willing to purchase would be fulfilling. I also hoped it would support my family at the end of the day!
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in the winemaking process?
Megan Hughes: There is always something new to learn. Wine is as traditional as it comes, yet also new and cutting-edge practices are continually evolving. My main lesson over the last decade is to be in the vineyard early and often.
You can know a lot about the upcoming vintage just by knowing what things look like in early spring.
I also learned a sense of calmness about growing conditions from working with my dad who has so much experience and has seen so many changes in the climate over the more recent years, specifically.
Do you remember the first time you fell in love with wine?
Megan Hughes: My love for wine came more from the lifestyle and less from a specific wine. There is a lot to love from Washington wine. I loved the idea of working with your hands and the land and specific yearly conditions.
Creating something that evolves into a table setting or a celebration brings love into the wine industry for me.
Describe your winemaking approach.
Megan Hughes: My approach 12 years ago was to enter Barnard Griffin and learn the style and techniques of my dad. I enjoy letting the fruit shine and interfering the least amount possible.
My mom is also a pretty kick tail business owner. Understanding the functions of operating a business, building teams and supporting communities are all values I’ve gleaned from her over the years.
What do you love about winemaking?
Megan Hughes: I’m able to create something for the sole purpose of being beautiful and enjoyed. I don’t ever take that gift for granted.
Do you have any winery traditions with your team?
Megan Hughes: Our favorite cellar tradition is alerting each other when grapes arrive. We are a lean
team with a lot of space. We rarely have time during harvest to all be staring out the window waiting for the 1PM load of fruit. Each cellar team member has their own horn that we all blow when the first person sees a grape load arrive.
Rob was a French horn player in the local symphony so he is better than most of us, although we hold our own as we grow together.
How does your team help you as a winemaker?
Megan Hughes: We are very fortunate to have a tenured team here. Each cellar team member is cross trained. With plenty to do, especially during harvest or bottling season. Without one another and the commitment to Barnard Griffin each cellar team member exhibits, we wouldn’t accomplish nor produce as many superb wines as we currently are able to.