Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Teresa Spellman Gamble, Co-Owner of Tinte Cellars, located in Woodinville, WA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Both my husband Tim and I are Seattle area residents with long family ties to the Puget Sound area and the state of Washington. While I was an executive at the University of Washington, Tim was president and CEO of a probiotic manufacturer, Nutraceutix, which we owned and eventually sold to a company in Sweden. At that time, we decided to pivot and do something different with the next chapter of our professional lives, and the transition from growing bacteria to making wine was a natural one. Tim likes to say it is channeling nature, whether you are growing bacteria to produce probiotics or fermenting wine. It's channeling what is already there in nature to create a product.

We founded our business, Tinte Cellars, in 2018 with the mission to produce "Great Wine for the Greater Good." We produce about 3,500 cases of award-winning wine each year, all from Washington State grapes, and every year, through philanthropy and community engagement Tinte Cellars supports area non-profits that focus on helping the region's people secure housing, food, and mental health services. We donate 10% of every wine club member purchase and 5% of retail sales to support Mary's Place, Northwest Harvest, Seattle Children's Behavioral Health Crisis Care Clinic, and the Yakima Valley Farm Worker's Clinic. And those donations have amounted to over $775,000 since our founding!

In addition to this foundational support, at Tinte Cellars, we engage in helping other non-profits in the community through in-kind donations of wine for auctions and events, along with the volunteering of time and talent by our staff family, and wine club participants. We seek creative ways to support those in need and to give back to those that help them. That might mean encouraging visitors to our tasting rooms to make Valentines while they are tasting wine, and we deliver those Valentines to patients at the local pediatric hospital. Or perhaps it's hosting an online virtual wine tasting with a non-profit like Canines for Independence, helping our viewers and customers learn about how they might train a puppy to be an assistance dog for a community member with special needs.

Our customers are individuals who love high-quality Washington wine and are passionate about the community. We are incredibly fortunate to have a strong and loyal wine club that has grown steadily since our inception and continues to support our social mission.

Tell us about yourself

I had a somewhat unique upbringing as the daughter of former King County Executive and Washington State Governor John Spellman. Growing up in the public eye with a father in public service opened my eyes to the disparities in society and the need to work towards a better future for ALL. And my dear mother furthered my learning and insight as she did things like put the staff of the Governor's Mansion on state benefits (can you believe they were hourly employees who did not receive benefits prior to 1981 when my father became Governor?). In addition, my mom made history by insisting that only Washington wine be served at events held in the mansion and also for her efforts to boost food banks statewide.

When I was about 18 or 19 years old, my dad asked all the kids around the Sunday dinner table, "If you had all the money in the world, but you had to continue working, what would you do?" That was a tough question for me. While my dad and siblings quickly had an answer, I literally spent months thinking of an answer, what was I passionate about? What did I want to do? Eventually, I landed on a business plan where I would create a business focused on producing and selling local arts and goods that would award annual revenue to a different non-profit each year. And that's what we did, some decades later, when we created Tinte Cellars! Community, volunteerism, and giving back with time, treasure & talent formed the foundation of both Tim's and my backgrounds. Our culture. When we established Tinte Cellars, it was essential that the winery reflect our values and our desire to leave the world better than we found it. Though we had no background in wine or winemaking, we knew that starting a winery with a social mission would be somewhat unique and also be a powerful vehicle to impact the community.

I am truly energized by our business. We have an amazing team that is committed to producing the highest quality Washington wine and sharing it with our guests, customers, and wine club members. And to know that, every day, we are impacting hundreds of lives through the non-profits we support. It couldn't get any better!

Do you have daily rituals for work / wellness / fitness / mindfulness?

I literally start every single morning the same - with a light protein-focused breakfast (Greek yogurt with blueberries or flax oatmeal w/blueberries) and engage in five minutes of mental agility exercises to get my brain kicked in gear. I then go for a brisk speed walk (4-8 mile distance depending upon time available), and I use that time to first meditate for 5-10 (guided by the phone app) and then listen to an audiobook - always focused on work/life balance, stress reduction and or mental wellness.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

That's a tough question. I think I would say the biggest accomplishment is the impact we have on the community. Sure, we make exceptional, award-winning wine (and I was pretty proud when our Malbec won the Best of Class in the Sunset International Wine Competition!), but by introducing people to our wine and our business model - those individuals are learning about the causes and non-profits we support, and they are becoming more inspired to get involved and take care of the community they call home.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

One of the most difficult things that come with being a business owner is that every decision is actually personal. It's difficult to separate oneself from the business.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. It's hard work, so you must be truly passionate about the business!
  2. It's all about the people. Surround yourself with smart, committed people, share your vision and expectations, and then give them the latitude to make decisions.
  3. Listen to your gut. It's usually right!

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

I have served as a mentor since I was a young professional, particularly to working moms, and it's been one of the most inspiring and rewarding parts of my career. I don't have much advice to share specific to the wine industry – since I am such a newbie – but I would give every woman the same advice, regardless of their profession: Be quiet, and listen to your heart and to your gut. What is it telling you? Do what you love, and success will follow. Life is precious, and too often, we don't listen to our instincts.

Where can people find you and your business?


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