KIONA, Wash. -- Family-owned Anelare Wines made another significant move when the Yakima Valley boutique winery near Benton City hired Kim Gravenslund last week to take over as general manager.
Gravenslund spent more than a decade heading up the tasting room, wine club and hospitality at acclaimed Barnard Griffin in Richland.
"We've watched her with customers and watched her work and always respected her greatly," said managing partner Kahryn Alexander. "We put an offer together, and she graciously accepted. We're very excited."
Gravenslund said she looks forward to establishing one-on-one relationships with customers and fans of Anelare's 1,000-case wine program.
"This is perfect," Gravenslund said. "I'm looking forward to helping build the brand. I want it to be thought-provoking and to do it over time. That's another exciting part. (Anelare) has a great reputation, and everyone I've talked to about this job says, 'Oh, you're so lucky. That's an amazing family.' "
It's been a remarkable 12 months for the Alexanders. First, there was a winemaking transition from Victor Cruz of Caon de Sol to Charlie Hoppes of Fidelitas on Red Mountain and Wine Boss in Richland.
Then, Kahryn and her husband, Forrest, came upon a stunning 10 acres in the Yakima Valley between Red Mountain and the northern slopes of the Horse Heaven Hills. It included a rustic barn that's being transformed into their new tasting room.
The four partners who created Anelare in 2007 include Forrest's in-laws -- Jim and Cindy Campbell. Earl Smart, another family member and longtime Tri-City wine professional, will share the tasting room duties with Gravenslund.
"With the things that have happened in the last year, hiring Charlie and really taking it up a notch with the wine, and getting blessed with this incredible venue, it seemed like a natural fit to have someone like Kim come in and take us to the next level," Kahryn said.
The partners expect that the new location and Gravenslund's arrival will spark interest in their wine club and the Anelare brand, which has not had a consistent tasting room presence in the Tri-Cities since leaving Kennewick's Southridge Village more than two years ago.
Gravenslund's initial plan is for Anelare to be open to the public four days a week.
There are about three more months to go before the tasting room opens, which gives Gravenslund, the Campbells and the Alexanders time to refine their plans.
"It wasn't a main focus to hire a general manager right at this point," Alexander said. "We would have waited a little longer for the tasting room to open, but we didn't think someone like Kim would walk by again."
Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue run Great Northwest Wine, a news and information company.