The nautical measure of time has traditionally been the ringing of a bell, one strike for each half hour of a four-hour watch. At the Eighth Bell the sailor s watch is over. At sea, Eight Bells marks a change, a change in watch, a change in activities. To us, Eight Bells Winery marks both a change in our careers and an opportunity to take our winemaking skills to a new level.
Eight Bells Winery is jointly owned and operated by Tim Bates, Andy Shepherd and Frank Michiels. Tim began making wine in his basement in 1980 with grapes from Sagemoor Farms. In 1996 Andy joined Tim and with a mutual friend from the Boeing Wine Club, we suddenly had access to many of the best vineyards in Washington and Oregon. To our friends and the local winemaking community we were known as the NOAA Shellback Vintners, Shellback being a sailor who has crossed the equator on the ship. In 2006 Frank came to watch the crush and ended up taking home 100 lbs of grapes to ferment in his kitchen. The triumvirate was born and we moved from our garages to a commercial space in the fall of 2009.
In addition to our practical experience, Tim and Andy completed the WSU viticulture extension program in 2008. Andy and Frank completed the WSU enology extension program in 2010 and 2011. Tim still works for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) studying the chemical and physical processes controlling Earth's climate.