“Not all Damsels are in distress” declares the website of Damsel Cellars in Woodinville, Washington. “In fact, our Damsel has things pretty well in hand.” Observing owner and winemaker Mari Womack, no one would argue. Mari first began working in Woodinville tasting rooms and production cellars in 2010, soon advancing to become assistant winemaker at Darby Winery and ultimately launching her own brand. Since, her Rhône-style wines, sourced from some of the most coveted vines in Washington State, have consistently won the praise of critics and a loyal fans alike: Jeb Dunnuck hails them as “seamless” and “seriously good”, while James Suckling has called them “succulent” and “stylish”. Don’t take their word for it, though–try Damsel Cellars wines for yourself.
What first turned you on to wine? When did you know it might become a career?
I started working in restaurants in my early 20s and was exposed to great food and some delicious wine. I didn’t start thinking about wine as a career until much later. I had years of restaurant experience and a degree in landscape design and horticulture, so I understood a few of the building blocks of wine, but had no idea I’d go this far down the rabbit hole.
Once I saw what was happening on the production side of the wine industry, I simply knew at my core that I had to have my own winery. I really ‘lived’ into becoming a winemaker. Each step I took in pursuit of wine knowledge led me further down the road and connected me with a wonderful community of people that helped along the way.
Who have been some of your strongest influences?
What have been some of your greatest challenges working in the business? …and what about its greatest rewards?
For those unfamiliar with Washington State Syrah, can you tell us why this is such a special place for this varietal?
What does Mari Womack drink at the end of a long day? … and what is your “desert-island wine”?
I’m a sucker for Rhône varietals. I love a medium-bodied, Grenache-dominant Rhône blend. It’s perfect for sipping and pairs easily with food, so no matter what’s available on the island, I couldn’t go wrong with a Southern Rhône blend!