Weekend winemaker hopes to make it a career
Chuck Jackson is splitting himself between two careers. He is another Boeing engineer and project manager whose heart is in the wine industry. Jackson has made wine through the Boeing wine club since the late 1970s, but only recently became winemaker for Eagle Haven Winery in Sedro Woolley.
Winemaker there for the last two years, Jackson still works full-time at Boeing, taking vacation days for crush and winemaking, and trying to be a “weekend winemaker” the rest of the year.
Jackson met Eagle Haven’s owners, Tom and Jim Perkins, through the Puget Sound Wine Growers Association and agreed to be their winemaker when they opened the winery doors in 2004. The winery, located near the North Cascades Highway 20, is able to sell much of its wines through the tasting room due to tourist traffic, although he notes that as they grow, they will need to put more emphasis on marketing. In addition to the tasting room, wines are available at Haggen’s Markets in Skagit Valley.
Wines produced there include Syrah and Sangiovese from grapes grown on the east side of the state, and the white varietals of Siegerrebe and Madeleine Angevine. Jackson also makes fruit wines from the pear and apple orchards owned by the Jenkins, as well as blackberry and currant wines.
Current volume of production is around 700 cases annually, though they have plans to increase the volume to 3,000 cases a year.
“It’s been challenging working at Boeing in eastern Bellevue, living in Bothell, and commuting to Sedro Woolley to the winery,” he said, adding that the distance between home and the winery is more than 60 miles. “I feel like I need to be with the wines all the time. There will come a day when I have to face up to the fact that I can’t do both.”
Though Jackson isn’t ready yet to leave Boeing, his goal is to have his own vineyard and winery in the near future.
“My philosophy is that I want to, and feel that I need to, control everything from the vineyard all the way through. I very much want to produce estate wines. There are some varietals that I know I can’t create by growing over here—like Cabernet Sauvignon, a wine that I love.”
He is looking for the right piece of property in western Washington that would fit his grape-growing needs. “If I can find property that suits my needs, then that will be the first domino piece, and the rest would fall in place.”