Sally Johnson Blum hired as Mullan Road winemaker
“It’s a great location,” says Dennis Cakebread, founder and president of Mullan Road and co-owner and chairman of the board at Cakebread. “I think it will give us a lot more exposure and awareness.”
The tasting room is approximately 1,700-square feet and also has a small outdoor patio. It will feature whites and lighter-bodied reds from the Cakebread portfolio as well as Mullan Road’s Cabernet Sauvignon. In addition to wine, light bites will be available. The tasting room will also have a separate room where customers can use a card to pour their own selection of wines.
In other news, Mullan Road hired Sally Johnson Blum as winemaker earlier this year. Johnson Blum graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in French literature and biology. She subsequently received a master’s degree in winemaking from University of California, Davis.
Johnson Blum spent eight years as winemaker at St. Francis Winery & Vineyards in Kenwood, California and then fifteen as winemaker at Pride Mountain in St. Helena. She joined Mullan Road after a brief tenure as director of winemaking at Robert Mondavi Winery.
“She’s got a great background, great education,” says Cakebread. “It’s a good match.”
This is not Johnson Blum’s first experience with Washington wine. She traveled to Walla Walla Valley in 2018 to participate in the valley’s Celebrate Walla Walla event.
“I just fell in love with the area,” says Johnson Blum, who is based out of Santa Rosa and owns SJB Winemaking. “The energy in Washington is really good. I see a lot of excitement and experimentation.”
Mullan Road made its inaugural wine in 2012. The winery is named after the first wagon road to cross the Rocky Mountains to the inland Pacific Northwest. Aryn Morell (Morell-Peña, The Royal Bull, Alleromb) has served as Mullan Road’s winemaker since the inaugural vintage.
The winery sources its fruit from the Royal Slope, which received appellation status in 2020. Mullan Road makes approximately 5,000 cases annually.
Downtown Woodinville is the latest area to see an influx of tasting rooms in a town that is already home to over 120 of them. L’Ecole No. 41 opened a tasting room on Wine Walk Row in 2022. Barnard Griffin, McQueen Champagne Bar, Montinore Estate, and Landlines Estates – the latter two Willamette Valley brands – are also located there.
Valdemar Estates opened a tasting room in this area in 2022 but is currently repurposing it to a restaurant. That restaurant will, however, pour Valdemar’s wines from Washington and Spain. Taken altogether, this collection of businesses will give visitors a unique experience.
“It’s the only place that we know of in Washington where within, call it 100, 150 feet, you can get iconic wines from Washington, Spain, Willamette Valley, and Napa Valley,” says Dave Griffiths, general manager at Mullan Road. “Then you’ve got a Champagne and bubbles bar with McQueen.”
In addition to Wine Walk Row, a number of tasting rooms have opened at nearby Woodin Creek, which is also in downtown Woodinville. Brian Carter Cellars recently opened a tasting room there after crowdsourcing funding. Baer, Bayernmoor, Alexandria Nicole, Adams Bench, TruthTeller, Rooted Souls, and Tsillan Cellars also have tasting rooms in the area.
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