Meet the vintner: From concrete to crush

Dan Anderson, co-owner and vintner at Three Brothers Vineyard & Winery, began planting grapes in Ridgefield in 1997 Dan Andersen’s passion for winemaking was born during the decade he spent working on freeway interchanges in the Golden State.

“For a young 20 something engineer in California there was winetasting on the weekends. That’s where I developed my palate and interest,” Andersen said.

Since Andersen, co-owner and vintner at Three Brothers Vineyard & Winery, began planting grapes in Ridgefield in 1997 the 21-wine library consistently boasts 50 percent estate-grown grapes even in wetter years with a great percentage in drier ones and the rest coming from Eastern Washington.

On site Andersen grows pinot gris, pinot blanc, chardonnay, riesling, gewürztraminer, several different pinot noir clones, tempranillo and a few rows each of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah.

Married over 20 years to his wife and business partner, Holly, the Andersens have balanced the production of award-winning wines with raising three boys-Cole, Lane and Jesse-who’ve handled every aspect of running a vineyard (apart from tasting and sales, of course) “and they think it’s really hard work.”

If any of them were to take over the family business they’d be carrying on a bit of a legacy since Andersen grew up in rural northern Idaho where much of his extended family are farmers. He notes that Clark County terroir is similar to the Willamette Valley and Yamhill County as a result of the famed Missoula Floods that spread clay and rock soil all down the Columbia River Gorge and the warm days and cool nights are particularly suited for pinot noir – another similarity.

When I asked him to choose his favorite wine and food pairing it came down to his favorite food.

“We eat a lot of pork at our house,” Andersen replied. “My boys and I like that. Boneless pork ribs with (2009) tempranillo. I can’t think of much that I’d rather have for dinner.”

What can he be found drinking when he doesn’t have a glass of Three Brothers in his hand? Andersen explained that local vintners commonly seek out opinions from each other so he enjoys new releases from area wineries.

Someone was once described to me as a man who ‘has his hands in a lot of pies’ and I’d say Dan Andersen falls into this category. A business owner, vintner, husband, dad, Ridgefield High School football coach and involved in youth ministry, Andersen knows what he loves and the areas he can contribute his talents to.

“Winemaking is a mix of science and art. If it was all science or all art, I probably wouldn’t like it but I like the mix,” Andersen shared.