Winemaking is a Team Sport at Covey Run
Hal Hanifl, Assistant Winemaker
In 1994, Hal started what would become a lifelong adventure working in the wine industry. His first job was in the tasting room at Mastantuono Winery in Templeton CA where winemaker Pasquale Mastantuono, impressed by his appreciation for good wine, soon asked him to help out in the cellar.
Inspired by his new love of winemaking, Hal went to Fresno State University to study Enology. In 1997, he interned at Chalk Hill winery in Healdsburg CA, learning how to make world-class Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon .
in 1998, Hal worked for 6 months at Johanneshof Reinisch Winery (about 30 miles south of Vienna), discovering an amazing culture of wine, food, and hard work. After returning home, he continued to hone his winemaking skills as the Assistant Winemaker for Sylvester Winery in Paso Robles.
In 2000, Hal took advantage of an opportunity to move to Sonoma County CA, where he worked for Chateau St Jean Winery, which is known for producing the world-renowned Bordeaux blend, Cinq Cepages.
He joined the Covey Run Winemaking Team in September 2008 where he continues his lifelong adventure, making great wines from Washington State.
Lorenzo Robledo, Cellar Supervisor
Lorenzo has seen a lot during his 24 years in the wine industry, and like most great winery employees, there's no position he hasn't filled. His first assignment was cleaning toilets. His second was lees filtration. "Give the new guy the dirtiest job and see if he'll stick around." Lorenzo did.
Lorenzo was - and still is - willing to do whatever it takes to solve the problem at hand. Cool and collected, he's the guy you want beside you when disaster strikes. Once, when an intern mistakenly removed a tank valve, Lorenzo saved 12,000 gallons of wine from spilling onto the cellar floor. How? He used a 100-foot hose and a ball valve to relieve the intern who was stemming the flow with his palm.
Lorenzo's devoted to his work and proud of the wines we produce. When he's not at the winery, he's with his family or tending to his menagerie of goats, pigs, chickens, rabbits and one cow.
Elvira Mariscal, Lab Geek
The lab is a critical hub at our winery, and while we certainly don't make wine by the numbers, we are artists who pay close attention to the data. It continually gives us reassurance that we're on track. In fact, we LOVE our lab data.
The woman responsible for giving us the "numbers" is Elvira Mariscal, a mother of 8 (speaking of numbers) who does not kid around. The lab is her domain, and all who enter are mere guests.
She likes it that way. A true lab geek, Elvira recently decided that looking at pond water under the microscope is fun. E is a true matriarch, in the winery and at home. We all pay homage.
Sunnyside, Washington Cellar Crew
There are 5 guys in our cellar, and they do all the heavy lifting. Jorge Quezada, Narciso Zurita, Carlos Guttierez, Pepe Delgado and Abel Enriquez have all been around for at least 5 years.
They've seen Covey harvests come and go, and they know how it all works. Sometimes things here feel like a well choreographed dance, where everyone knows their parts. And sometimes the cellar floor is a crazy place, with everything going full bore, dialed up to 11. (That's when these guys could show you their forklift racing prowess.)
Our cellar crew take tremendous pride in what they do – and so do we. They're a devoted bunch. Their hands would be permanently purple, but lucky for them, we make a lot of Riesling.
Uriel Zaragoza, Tino Roman and Abel Clastro are our barrel crew. They work with barrels all day long. If it has to do with barrels, they do it. Covey Run win uses approximately 3,000 barrels for its wine, but if you were to ask any of these guys where the 1 barrel of Petite Sirah in a 2010 Francois Freres barrel was located, they could tell you in a heartbeat – and without the aid of technology. It really is amazing.
Like all of us at Covey Run, our barrel crew love what they do. Working with wine is fun.
Claudette Wine Tracker
Claudette Garent has the distinction of working continuously for Covey Run since before the winery was even established in 1982. She literally got in "from the ground up." In 1980, she helped plant the vineyards that we began harvesting in 1982, and she even watched the winery get built. (Boy was she glad to get in out of the cold!)
Claudette has worked for all 5 Covey Run winemakers. She remembers Stan Clarke as a great teacher, which foreshadowed how he spent his life, teaching people about wine. Stan was followed by Dave Krippen and then Wayne Marcil who were responsible for turning a small 15,000 case winery into a winery with national appeal. She says Kerry Norton was the most laid back winemaker she has worked for, and Kate…well Kate is really something.
Claudette used to work in the cellar, but now she sits in an office tracking wines. This may sound more cushy than dragging hoses, but keeping track of ALL of the gallons and ALL of the lots of wines that Covey run produces is no small feat, especially at harvest when things move at warp speed.
Lots of things break in a winery. The most frequenly called phone number on a winemakers call log is probably the maintenance guy. You don’t want to make them mad. Bring them gifts.
Me: "Dennis what do you fix the most around here?"
Dennis: "I don’t know. Glycol lines or seals on pumps. Nice hair Kate (with irony)."
Dennis really likes to go fishing so he can get away from the ever-present "to do " list. He catches steelhead salmon, and also makes a mean habenero sauce.
Ryan Wells and Josh Ransom, Our Viticultural Team
Ryan and Josh are our viticultural dynamic duo. They are the conduit between the winery and the growers. Outfitted like any good grower, with a 4-wheel drive pickup truck, they spend a good bit of their day conducting business out of their "mobile office."
The Columbia Valley, where we source all of our grapes covers 11 million acres, 7,000 of which are planted to wine grapes. Luckily, most of our vineyards are within an hour's drive of the winery, but our farthest vineyard is about 3 hours away. You get the point. These guys put some miles on their trucks.
Ryan and Josh are expert mediators. Growers always want their grapes picked "the earlier the better," while (most) winemakers want to "let them hang." It is sometimes difficult to know whose side they are on. That is sly. They do their job well, looking out for both the grower and the winery.