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Meet the Locals: Michelle & Steven (also, their close friend, Wine)

With a scenic byway that’s as large in scale as the Cascade Loop, naturally the landscape, views and activities vary wildly from region to region. Each area delivers its own distinct vibe, character, rich history and of course, diverse locals. The combination of these elements yield a vacation experience like none other, and significantly, the people who live and work here are the living embodiment of what makes our destination so special. In a nutshell: our diversity is what makes the Cascade Loop so special.

Recently we realized that despite our best efforts, our visual communications really didn’t reflect the diversity of the folks living, working and growing up near and around the Cascade Loop. We put a call out on our personal media account to see if there were folks that we knew around the byway that wouldn’t mind being featured on our website and social media to help introduce our traveling guests to a fuller representation of the kind of folks that they may well encounter during their stay, and Michelle and Steven answered our request.

Martin Scott Winery

Michelle and Steven are one of those couples that when you’re lucky enough to get to hang out with them, you leave feeling better about the world, knowing that you were just in the presence of 100% heart-brimming love. These two are the real deal—a two-person, knee-slapping, belly-laughing ball of energy. Through the course of our evening we covered everything from soup to nuts (ok, we actually covered everything from wine to politics) and our face hurt from smiling and laughing so much.  What an awesome change of pace in this time where the world seems, ohhhh, a little on the crazy side. 

We’ve known Michelle and Steven for a few years and know that one of the things that they really enjoy together, like many Cascade Loop travelers, is our state’s amazing local wines. Did you know that Washington State is home to over 1,000 wineries and over 60,000 acres of wine grapes? AND the Cascade Loop is home to all manner of wineries with different varietals being grown in the various regions of the Loop. It makes sense that since our byway landscape, topography and climate vary wildly from region to region, so does our wine.

We met up with Michelle and Steven at Martin Scott, a local family-owned and operated winery in East Wenatchee—just a hop, skip and a jump off the byway— and all we can say is HOLY COW. This place is wildly beautiful. The drive approaching the winery is flanked on both sides by vineyards with roses and dahlias planted at the head of each row. Since we visited during the COVID-19 pandemic, our visit was limited to the outdoor area. Outdoor seating with lots of room was available on the west side of the property. Vineyards stand in silhouette over views of the Columbia River below with the rolling foothills and the Cascade mountains layered behind—it’s literally a scene one would expect in a movie set.

Wine Grapes

According to the winery website, 

“We feature small quantities of handcrafted wines. The fruit comes from our home vineyard in East Wenatchee, high on a bluff, south-facing, above the Columbia River and from grapes grown in the prime grape growing region of the Columbia Valley in South Central Washington State near Mattawa. Some of our grapes also come from Shaw Vineyard, Red Mountain. The Olympic and Cascade Mountains provide a barrier to coastal precipitation leaving an average rainfall of 8 inches per year. With this dry, desert condition, plant vigor, canopy and fruit quality can be successfully controlled. Sudden fall season beckon the plants into dormancy and winter cold inhibits pests, this encouraging integrated pest management a modest use of chemicals.”

As we walked around the property it became quite clear that this winery wasn’t one of those businesses that says they’re family-owned but you never meet anyone from the family. When we arrived, we were brought wine by one of the owners’ sons, Chris, who also happens to be winery’s General Manager. Shortly after, the winery co-founder, Mike, rolled up on his four-wheeler and chatted with our group. Then, later in the evening when we settled into the outdoor patio area, Becky, Tim’s daughter-in-law, spent some time chatting with us and making sure nobody’s glasses were empty, and while we may have virtually no wine expertise beyond knowing we like to drink it, Michelle and Steven are quite the opposite.

Their love story is literally stitched together with wine as the thread. Steven and Michelle met in a wine bar in 2003 and were married in that same bar in 2009. Michelle worked in the wine industry for decades joining the Enological Society of the Pacific Northwest in the 1970’s and working in the international wine importing business throughout the 1980’s and 90’s. Michelle later worked for Vin Du Lac Winery in Chelan—FYI, Lake Chelan is Washington State’s 11th AVA (American Viticulture Area)—and went on to help produce a regional wine competition called the Foothills Wine Awards, where we first got to know her and Steven.  

Wine glasses Martin Scott Winery

According to Michelle,

“When we met, Steven had a 175-bottle wine cellar he built underneath his staircase.  Our combined passion for wine led to the purchasing of upwards of 100 cases of wine. Years later, one of our wine racks broke so Steven not only found that he could fix it, but he had a bonafide talent for creating high-end but affordable wine storage systems for homes and businesses. This was the birth of his company, Reasonable Racks. The business took off and the connections allowed him to pursue his dream of being involved in the wine industry. After seeing an ad for the Wenatchee winery, Chateau Fair le Pont, tasting room, Steven joined their team, and after a short time his duties shifted to assisting the winemaker. He is also a Certified Sommelier.” 

Michelle and Steven’s shared love of wine has helped them cultivate friendships with winemakers, growers, viticulturists, and fellow wine enthusiasts in tasting rooms throughout the state, and many Cascade Loop travelers share this love as well. Whether you’re a died in the wool oenophile like Michelle and Steven or a neophyte like us, there are wineries and tasting rooms throughout the byway that’ll make you welcome and little lighter of heart. And in today’s world, who couldn’t use a little more of that? Learn more about wineries and tasting rooms around the Cascade Loop and getting planning today!