What’s in a name?

Welcome to our blog! One of the earliest things Matt & I agreed on when planning the winery is that great wine is a wonderful thing, but great wine shared is even better. In the first 20 months that we’ve been working on producing our wines, we’ve been fortunate to share small parts of the experience with friends, family, and industry colleagues who have visited for a barrel tasting preview — and an important handful who have helped out as harvest interns! Being open and connected to our community — whether family, friends, customers or colleagues — is at the core of Prospice. We want anyone who is interested in us and our wines to be able to visit, taste, and talk with us. The community that forms around the winery is the part of Prospice that we most eagerly anticipate, and this blog is one way in which we can connect with you and share in the enjoyment of Prospice.

I thought I’d begin by talking about the Prospice name and what it means to us. Without relating the exhausting backstory of how we got here, I’ll simply say that it was a very long, sometimes grueling, and often frustrating process with a very happy ending. The wine trademark world is increasingly crowded, especially since you need to consider not just other wine-related trademarks, but alcoholic beverages generally to avoid trademark conflicts. We spent nearly two years brainstorming possible brands with each other, with friends, and with family. I spent many hours on day-long hikes with my brother Jon talking about potential names, only to get home at the end of the day, fire up the USPTO’s (U.S. Patent & Trademark Office’s) trademark database, and swear prolifically when all of the great ideas we’d come up with were already spoken for. We worked through a federal trademark registration and a well-developed label design for one candidate name, only to belatedly discover a problematic conflict (that did indeed lead to a trademark rejection from the USPTO).

Eventually I came across a Latin phrase: “Respice, Adspice, Prospice.” I’ve seen various translations, but the one I like best is: “Learn from the past; live in the present; look to the future.” In addition to evoking admiration for the apparent pithiness of the Latin-speaking world (between this and “Veni, Vidi, Vici,” they could have been big on Twitter), it really connected with me and the relationship I’ve developed to wine and winemaking. At every step of the winemaking process, we enthusiastically look forward. When a new vineyard is planted, we wonder about the fruit it will produce once it matures. Each spring during bloom and fruit set, we walk the vine rows speculating about the coming harvest in the fall. As the ripe fruit hits the crushpad, we imagine how it will taste once it’s fermented. While the wine ages in barrel, we taste and anticipate how it will progress over the next 3, 6, or 12 months. When bottling we dream of how it will taste after 5 or 10 years in a cellar. At each step along the way, there’s excitement and optimism — it’s invigorating even when we are impatient to move the process forward and see the future results. The Prospice name embraces that relentlessly forward-looking attitude.

At the same time, the Latin root of the name pays homage to the ancient origins of winemaking, and the time-honored traditions that we winemakers often, if not always, tend to revere. Who doesn’t like the imagery of a damp, cool cave in Bordeaux, hewn from solid rock centuries ago, piled high with dusty, misshapen bottles of wine, lovingly crafted by a 6th-generation winemaker whose family has pursued the craft since time immemorial? We take great inspiration from the restrained and elegant approach to winemaking that prevails in the Old World, and we hope you’ll see that influence reflected in our wines.

My wife Christy also observed that wine often accompanies our contemplation of our own future. How often do we find ourselves at the dinner table or around the fire with a spouse, with family, or with friends, enjoying a glass of wine and talking — whether with excitement, anticipation, trepidation, or fear — about what lies ahead in our lives? Christy’s and my decision to pack up and move to Walla Walla was itself born out of a series of wonderful conversations while on vacation with another couple — each of those conversations accompanied by delicious wine.

In that spirit we are excited about Prospice, excited about the future, and we hope those of you who read this will make Prospice part of your lives as well. Cheers, Jay