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Business Profile

Townshend Cellar

Townshend4

As Michael Townshend and his brother Brendon grew up, so did their family’s winery, Townshend Cellar. And, like a child emerging into adulthood, the maturation of the business happened little by little, but also seemed to fly by.

“I can remember, as a kid, helping put labels on the bottles with this little hand labeler,” Michael says. “I got pretty good at it, and I was proud when I could do 56 cases in 4 hours. Now we have equipment that will do that in 15 minutes.”

What started in the late ‘90s as a hobby for the north Spokane family grew into a mainstay of the Spokane wine scene and beyond, with 20,000 cases distributed annually to grocers and restaurants throughout the region.

Lengthy barrel aging is part of the identity of Townshend, with many of their wines spending up to 30 months in oak— basically unheard of in the industry.

While Townshend has developed a full line of wines, their calling card has always been big, bold reds. In the early 2000s, a red blend called T3 became available in limited quantities, and only at restaurants.

Then wine lovers, particularly in Seattle, began asking for it at grocery stores, and complaining that it wasn't available. The experience they’d had at a restaurant with T3 was too good not to replicate at home.

“T3 had this cult following, so we gave the people what they wanted. That was really when things blew up a bit,” remembers Michael.

As a teenager, he began learning more and more about what his parents (Don and Michelle Townshend) had been developing. He saw the balance of growing capacity and variety without sacrificing quality.

In young adulthood, both Michael and Brendon have done other things; the former is a mechanical engineering graduate of Montana State, and the latter is an aerospace engineering graduate of Cal Poly, and a KC-135 Tanker pilot in the Air National Guard. But they've returned to work closely with Don and the rest of the team, investing their own careers in carrying Townshend Cellar into the future.

Townshend recently started banking with INB. “In my mind INB is the quintessential local bank,” Michael says. “I’ve spent so much time on customer service lines from who knows where. With INB, it’s a 509 number with a person that knows us, and is actually involved in helping our business save money and grow.”

“Local” is something Townshend can appreciate because of the way they've been embraced by their own community. The Yokes Fresh Market just down the road from Mt. Spokane High School (where the boys went to school and where Michelle currently teaches) sells far more Townshend Red Table Wine than any other grocery store in the state. Perhaps it's an easy shopping decision to make when you routinely see the winemaker’s family on a bike ride together near their Greenbluff tasting room.

Building on this foundation of family, quality, and community, Townshend is developing exciting plans on to add a downtown tasting room that celebrates local art. Speaking with Michael reveals a passion for the winery that he grew up with, and the community it serves.

“We’re focused on our customers--growing our wine club, connecting with more people, and developing even better wines for them to enjoy.”