Bob Delf of Northwest Cellars
In Kirkland since 2004
11909 124th Ave NE, Kirkland, WA 98034
Tell us about yourself!
Originally from Vancouver, Canada, I’ve lived here in Kirkland since 2000. I am the youngest of 4 boys in a very entrepreneurial family. I earned a Bachelor's Degree in Pure Math and Computer Science, followed by a Master's Degree in Business. Working as an executive in the software industry, I developed a serious interest in wine and started taking classes at UC Davis, and South Seattle Community College.
What inspired you to open your winery?
In 2003, I received a bottle of custom labeled wine as a gift. The wine was absolutely terrible, but I really liked the idea. As a wine enthusiast, I knew the high level of quality that Washington was consistently producing and set out to create a winery that would make exceptional wine available for custom label. Northwest Cellars’ wines have since won more than 400 awards.
Describe your winery in two sentences:
We have a large tasting room in Kirkland with live music every Friday. We host a wide variety of events and fundraisers (up to 80 people), and in a nutshell, we have a lot of fun.
Tell us about your customers:
We provide fun, casual, early evening entertainment in Kirkland so we have a really good base of regular, local customers who come for our live music events like Happy Hour Friday. We also have Robert Smasne as our consulting winemaker—Robert is very well respected in the industry and this draws a lot of people to the tasting room along with the word-of-mouth about the quality of the wines and the unique varieties we work with—like Petite Sirah, Carménère, and Petit Verdot. We also have really interesting blends—dark, seductive, complex wines that really seem to be hot right now.
What is your favorite thing about being a small business owner?
I love the variety and the interaction with people. I run the business and make big decisions, but I’m not sitting in a high-rise office isolated from my customers—I’m in the tasting room just about every day pouring wine and meeting new people.
Why did you choose to open your store in Kirkland?
Kirkland is home. The people here are awesome.
What advice would you give to aspiring business owners?
Be realistic. Owning a business is a 24/7 job. Having a retail business requires that you are physically present. I think a lot of times people dream of having a shop, but they don’t completely think through the logistical realities. Over time, you hire great people and it gets a little easier, but early on, that business is 100% reliant on you to be there.
Tell us about a current wine you are really excited about right now:
We just released our darkest, most seductive blend, Oscuro. It’s 50% Malbec and 50% Petite Sirah—both grapes are full of fruit and spice and darkness and complexity; blending them together creates this mega rich, delicious blend that you just have to experience in order to understand. On top of that, it’s the 2012 vintage which is our favorite vintage yet. Everyone is loving this wine and it’s absolutely perfect for this time of year.