Wine Enthusiast’s “40 Under 40” names two women from Washington

The Wine Enthusiast 40 Under 40 list recognizes the young winemakers, brewers, beverage directors, grape growers, and other movers and shakers who are changing today’s beverage industry.

It’s their annual “Forty Under Forty” issue, and this year there are 43 names on the list, including two Washington State women.

First up, Elizabeth Bourcier, 35 years old. Her father’s family were wine growers in Bordeaux’s Côte de Blaye, way back when; she grew up in Seattle but visited France when she was little. After graduating from high school she took herself to Walla Walla where Myles Anderson was just starting up a new viticulture & enology program at the local community college; Bourcier was in the first class. She finished her four-year degree in Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, worked a harvest at Summerwood, then did an internship in Argentina. By 2008 she was back in Walla Walla and found a job at Christophe Baron’s groundbreaking venture, Cayuse Vineyards. Starting out in the lab, a dozen harvests later she’s now the assistant vigneronne (a French word, which recognizes that wine making involves wine growing as much as it does enology). What makes this post particularly impressive is that she’s in the number two slot at one of the most innovative wineries in the Northwest.

Baron had been on his way to California two decades ago when he stumbled across an expanse of softball-size stones near Milton Freewater, just across the Oregon border from Walla Walla. It reminded him of the galets in the southern Rhone Valley; he immediately bought as much land as he could (ten acres to start, now close to 60) and named his winery Cayuse, the word native Americans used for the region, in turn a corruption of cailloux, the name that 18th century French settlers had used for the stones.

Bourcier also has her own label, La Rata, a very highly regarded blend of grenache and cabernet sauvignon grapes grown in the same appellation as Cayuse. Why the name? As Bourcier describes it, the rat is her zodiac sign.

Erin James photo by Ashton Worthington

Because 40 spots weren’t enough, the Enthusiast added three more, thereby including Seattle-based Erin James, the 34-year-old editor in chief of Sip Norhwest magazine. James oversees the content and direction of two magazines that together reach an audience of 68,000 readers throughout North America. Sip Northwest spotlights the booming wine, beer, spirit and cider scene in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia, and the food and travel excursions that revolve around it. Cidercraft, a national magazine, hones in on the growing North American cider industry. It offers insight on the latest bottles and producers to seek out and the trends that drive the category forward. James also authored the book Tasting Cider.