It all started with a question.....
"How is it that two wines made from exactly the same grapes can taste completely different?"
Chasing the answer to that question transformed biomedical engineer Rob Entrekin from a wine drinker into a winemaker.
Rob enrolled in the Washington State University enology certificate program in 2007. Inspired by his fellow classmates, many of whom were already professional winemakers, Finn Hill Winery was licensed and bonded in Rob's two-car garage on Finn Hill in September 2008. Annual production started at 150 cases, but after a few years, space constraints dictated a move to the warehouse district where annual production today is less than 1,000 cases -- still at the "micro-winery" level.
This small scale allows Rob to pay tremendous attention to every detail of the wine making process, and to use the best grapes and the finest French oak barrels available. This results in wines with elegance and power, which reflect the vineyard's distinct terroir or "sense of place".
Rob's goal is to handcraft small lots of premium Washington wine that he thinks taste fantastic. He hopes you will think they taste fantastic, too.
Why is it called Finn Hill?
We named the winery after the Finn Hill neighborhood north of Kirkland, WA where we live, and where we started the garage winery. The labels on our white and rosé wines depict the beautiful flowering trees and other blooms that are plentiful during Spring and Summer in our neighborhood.
But how did Finn Hill get its name? This story started in December 1903 when Ben and Hilma Reinikainen set sail from Helsinki, Finland, for America. After living in Ballard for a few years, they bought 10 acres for $300 and were the first family to build on what is now Finn Hill. Most of the first growth timber had been cut, so the land was was not expensive due to all of the large tree stumps. Over the years, other Finnish family and friends joined them and bought property, until by 1945 there were approximately 50 Finnish households located on the main section of what became known as Finn Hill.
What about the gnome?
In Finland, the 'tonttu" is a mythological creature from Scandinavian folklore, associated with the winter solstice and the Christmas season. It is generally no taller than three feet, has a long white beard, wears colorful clothes, and is likened to a garden gnome. According to tradition, these gnomes secretly live in a house (or in our case, a winery) and act as its guardian. If treated well, they protect children and animals from evil and misfortune, and they also help with chores and farm work. However, they are known to have a temper, especially when they are offended, and can cause mischief.
Our winery gnome - whose name is "Finn Hillesen" - seems pretty calm, and he has never lost his temper, to the best of our knowledge. But we do our best not to offend him.....