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Second Act
Silvara Vineyard is dream of former tech guru
In the beginning, Silvara Vineyard was basically  1a car. That’s all winemaker Gary Seidler had in mind when he visited the Leavenworth area for the very first time – not to vacation or buy property or build a winery but to simply buy a vintage car.

But something happened on the way to buying that car – he fell in love with a gorgeous piece of view property on a hillside of flowers overlooking some of the most beautiful scenery in all of North Central Washington. His short trip to the area from Phoenix, Arizona, was turning into a lifetime dream of owning his own winery.

“I had no idea that Washington was just brimming with different tasting rooms and wineries,” he said, and the beauty of the area was the clincher. “I had always loved the Alps and the alpine lifestyle – so that was that.”

 1The timing was right, too. He had just completed winemaking school at California’s UC-Davis and was embarking on a new career, having already proven himself an able entrepreneur in the information technology business. Seidler’s company would move and install data and technology systems for some of the country’s leading companies and, after 14 years, he got an offer to sell the company that he could not refuse. He was set for life.

As often happens with “early” retirements, Seidler soon started thinking about what else he could do now that he had more time on his hands. He knew whatever it was going to be, it had to be something he loved and felt passionate about.

Seidler’s grandparents were bakers and he says he’s always had a fascination with yeast. He laughed as he recalled he probably did his first fermentation with Welches grape juice when he was just a teenager. He thought about it, and it wasn’t long before it became obvious: his next vocation would be wine-making.

Seidler’s life and business partner, Cindy Rarick, shares Seidler’s enthusiasm for winemaking and brings to Silvara a complementary background in professional golf. A longtime PGA golfer – on the Legends Tour for the last eight years – Rarick has been able to introduce Silvara wine to customers all over the country. Many of the Silvara Wine Club members are in fact golfers, professional musicians and other people she has met in the golf world.

“The wine and the golf thing go together like a long drive and a birdie putt,” Seidler says.

Opened in 2008, Silvara Vineyard has settled into something of a specialty – dry oak aged Bordeaux wines, making just 3,000 cases a year but consistently selling out. The winery buys fruit only from recognized fruit regions and Seidler says he intends to keep his output relatively small because of the highly specialized production required to maintain quality. He also wants to keep his prices reasonable.

“I think a good wine should be under $50 a bottle,” he says. “Most of our wines are between $28 and $42.”

Another big goal of Silvara is to create a pleasant environment for visitors to stop and sample the wines. With rolling hills, pear orchards, vineyards and the nearby mountains, the views from the winery are reminiscent of the European Alps, and the winery’s lodge-style architecture adds to that feeling. Broad windows, stone fireplaces and an outdoor stone patio fit perfectly with the winery’s hilltop location.

Silvara also plans this year to expand upon previous musical offerings that have been primarily small combos or single artists. This year, larger musical groups and bands will play while guests enjoy wine on winery’s extensive lawn area.

The music is in keeping with Seidler’s other past vocation – that of a touring sound engineer who spent much of the 70’s and 80’s handling concert sound for national recording acts such as Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Asleep at the Wheel and many others.

All of which keeps Seidler quite busy these days – not a lot of time to look for vintage cars but plenty of time for his dream of a lifetime — vinting those award-winning Silvara wines.

For more information on Silvara Vineyard, please go to www.silvarawine.com or phone 509/548-1000.
PHOTOS: From top: Colorful hilltop setting of Silvara Vineyard; Cindy Rarick and Gary Seidler
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