The vision for Buty Winery was originally sketched out on a napkin by Nina Buty and Caleb Foster while on a backpacking trip in the Cascade Mountains in 1998. Focusing on a belief in the artistry of the blend, this original blueprint included a short list of wines that Buty would make, most notably a pioneering Washington blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, and an equally inspired Sémillon-based blend that would include both Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle. The napkin also listed a dream portfolio of vineyard partners—renowned grand-cru-caliber sites like Champoux and Conner Lee.
After two years of planning that included a trip to New Zealand to learn more about making great Sauvignon Blanc, Buty became a reality. Its debut 2000 vintage featured five wines. Building on the early acclaim of these offerings, in 2001, the winery added Rediviva of the Stones and Columbia Rediviva to the Buty portfolio. These premium blends of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah were the first of their kind in Washington State, and continue to set the standard for this blend among the great wineries of the Northwest. That same year offered several other highlights, from the opening of Buty’s tasting room in Walla Walla to the planting of Buty’s dedicated section of Phinny Hill Vineyard on a hillside overlooking Champoux Vineyard. This was also the beginning of Buty’s inspiring relationship with legendary consulting winemaker Zelma Long.
Today, Buty remains true to its original vision. Though Caleb Foster has moved on to other ventures, Nina Buty continues to run the small, family-owned winery, guiding a team that includes Zelma and renowned winemaker Chris Dowsett. Together, they make a selection of iconic Washington State blends. These wines continue to be made using grapes from a handful of renowned vineyards, as well as fruit from Nina’s own Rockgarden Vineyard in Walla Walla Valley, and Buty’s section of Phinny Hill Vineyard. These wines have earned a reputation for their blending artistry, and for the soulfulness that inspires Buty’s winemaking approach.
At the same time, Buty has been at the forefront of several winemaking movements—from its commitment to using little-or-no new oak in many of its wines to a belief in picking earlier to retain purity, aromatics and acidity, and finally the winery’s dedication to a natural approach to winemaking that eschews the use of any additions or “enhancement tools.” This natural approach is echoed in an emphasis on stewardship and service—ideals that have led Nina to farm Rockgarden and Buty’s section of Phinny Hill organically (with Rockgarden receiving its Oregon Tilth organic certification in 2010).
Today, Buty’s sought-after, limited-production wines are recognized as benchmarks for quality, creativity and value—offering a rare intersection of all three elements. Every wine in Buty’s small portfolio is made with artistry and purpose, and though no corners are ever cut to achieve Nina’s creative vision, Buty’s wines represent some of the great values of the North American wine world.