Winemaker Nicole Camp first started making wine from the pears in her backyard as a way to pass time upon first moving to the West Coast from Pittsburgh in 2001.

Eventually that tree died. But her passion for winemaking had started to bloom. 

Along the way, Camp established the first Black- and female-owned winery in Woodinville (and the second in Washington state). Located in the Warehouse District, Lashelle Wines opened its doors on Juneteenth 2021. 

The name Lashelle is part of her own name, she said. 

“It just kind of budded on the aspects of being a female entrepreneur who wanted to work for herself,” she said. “To essentially bring great wine and great company to Woodinville.”  

Camp produces all her wine in Woodinville, she said. She opened the winery with one barrel of each varietal. She said her production for 2021 is triple the size of her original amount. 

The wines at Lashelle are unique compared to the hundreds of other locations across Woodinville. The primary difference stems from Camp’s allergy to high doses of sulfur. 

Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) is the most common chemical compound used in winemaking. It serves two purposes: preventing oxidation and keeping unwanted bacteria away. Ultimately, sulfur helps to preserve wine for longer periods of time.

Camp said her wines still contain some sulfur, but a much lower level. As a result, she said, her wines are “more drinkable now.” 

“I personally think they’re better because you can drink them now versus holding them,” she said. “They do have a little bit of a shorter shelf life because of this. Rather than a 30-year shelf life, you’re looking at a 10-15-year shelf life.” 

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Camp recently finished “crush,” which is the harvest season for grapes. It’s also known as the big sink-or-swim moment for winegrowers.  

“It's a very busy time of year,” she said. “The grapes kind of have their own schedule. It's not like a pre-set schedule.” 

Winegrowers measure sugar and acid levels to ensure the grapes are picked at the right moment. Camp’s grapes come from the Columbia Valley, she said, which means frequent trips to the eastern side of Washington during harvest season.

The actual winemaking takes place at the 1,500-square-foot winery in Woodinville. Camp does everything there herself—from destemming to fermentation to greeting people in the tasting room. She also gets some help from her husband and daughter, she said.  

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Some of Lashelle Wines’ 2021 batch that is currently aging in the barrels.

“I think it's great to support small businesses, and I think I'm really in truly one of the smallest wineries in Woodinville,” she said.

Camp said she feels totally supported by the people in her complex, and all of wine country. She expected a cutthroat type of personality between all the wineries in town, she said, but discovered the community to be incredibly welcoming and willing to help. 

“There’s a great community among all the wineries,” she said.

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