June Winemaker's barrel: Loop de Loop

Julia Bailey Gulstine’s career in the world of wine is a long and complicated story to tell, but for all the paths not taken and ‘loopy’ paths trod, her story began on a small family farm in Iowa. For the first ten years of her life, next to the chicken coop, just in front of a row of towering sunflowers by the side of a massive vegetable garden, there was a grape arbor. In the fall, Julia’s grandmother would enlist her help with harvesting the grapes and turning them into a wide range of goods, from jam to several sorts of beverage, some of which Julia was not allowed to drink.

Years later, Julia’s first paying job in the wine industry was in fine restaurants in 1990s Portland, during the first wave of the city’s culinary renaissance. She learned wine on the job, tasting at Friday afternoon staff trainings and taking joy from connecting diners to the wines. She credits that early experience at the family arbor with how quickly she took to the study and craft of wine. She took a trip to Europe looking for all the things 24-year-old Americans look for, art museums and old cities, but when she returned she realized she had spent all her money going to vineyards. Thus, surrendering to the call, she called up Argyle cellars and landed a job. She worked her way up to tasting room manager, but still felt she had more to offer. After a brief search, she landed a job as Patricia Green’s first employee, doing a little bit of everything. Julia got a sommelier certification and became the wine buyer at Carafe in downtown PDX before deciding, in a restless moment, to completely change course. In 2005 she got a degree in international relations for a job in Palestine working with both Palestinian and Israeli women in small business. 

What started as a three month assignment became five years, and alongside her official work, she started a restaurant dedicated to the slow food movement with the object of preserving traditional culinary arts, and fermenting Arak in house. One day someone gave her two tons of grapes for her to make wine, and it was there, while she pressed the grapes by twisting them up in bedsheets and fermented them in kiddie pools, that she first realized that making wine could truly be her calling. It struck a deep chord of satisfaction and connection for her, and set her on course back to Oregon where, in 2010-ish, she landed back in Oregon and sought work among her friends in the Willamette Valley. By 2012, she had a supply of grapes, in 2014 she found Scott Gulstine, who over time became her partner in all things, which extended to making wine by 2017. Together, they purchased a vineyard high in the Columbia Gorge with an impressive view of Mt Hood, the Light Anthology Vineyard, which now Scott takes the lead in farming their 9 acre vineyard regeneratively, they’ve built a tasting room and patio open for tasting (you should absolutely visit) while Julia takes the lead in making the wine with a keen sense of place and a note of exploration and discourse that doesn’t end when the glass is empty, because the journey is the whole point. A journey that started under the sunflowers on a small farm in Iowa has found its way back to a different kind of farm and that same, simple way of life.