Hard Row to Hoe’s flagship tasting parlour is located in Manson, WA. The winery’s brothel-chic theme is based on the history of the Lake Chelan region. In the 1930s, 30 miles up lake in the mountains above Lucerne, a mining community popped up at the new Howe Sound Mine. Professional ladies moved to an old hotel ½ mile further up the lake to “serve” the miners. Since there were no roads or trails connecting Lucerne to the old hotel, a long-time Manson resident ran a rowboat taxi service from Lucerne to the old hotel in support of the thriving enterprise. If you look closely, and you know what to look for, each the wine labels tell the Hard Row to Hoe story on them.
Owner/winemakers Don and Judy Phelps have infused the winery’s provocative roots throughout the guest experience at both tasting parlours. From the moment one approaches the Leavenworth, WA, location, the “Your mother warned you about us!” custom doormat and a corset-shaped sign welcome guests. As you descend into the cellar-level storefront, a glowing neon sign behind the bar encourages guests to “swallow,” while a bucket suggests you can “spit.”
While searching for the perfect prop for the Leavenworth location, Don and Judy procured the Tally Ho Chair, featured in the forthcoming Fifty Shades of Grey film.
Whether on a girlfriend getaway or a romantic couple’s weekend, the quirky, themed décor at both tasting parlous is sure to seduce, intrigue, and delight. Be sure to take a close look at the wallpaper at the Manson location. The bed at the Manson location is also authentic décor from the old hotel.
Playfulness aside, wine enthusiasts will appreciate the award-winning Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Viognier, Chardonnay, Methode Champenoise, and Pinot Noir, many of which are exclusively available at the tasting parlour (such as the brand new Good in Bed methode champenoise Blanc de Noir). I personally LOVED the Shameless Hussy Pinot Gris, as it is such a unique Pinot Gris since it sees a little bit of skin contact, giving it both a unique color and palate. Ice Breaker, their iced cider, is also a unique and tasty treat worthy of bringing home.
Don and Judy were so much fun to chat with and tour the winery with. I loved learning about the vineyard and the winemaking process. It’s clear they love what they do and the passion and love of their craft shows at every step of the way.
The boutique winery is all work and all play, delivering premier wines created by Judy, the winemaker, who holds a Master’s degree in biology and certificate in winemaking from UC Davis. Don serves as expert grape grower and manages the vineyards. Founded in 2004, Hard Row to Hoe produces an average of 18 different wines each year, about 150 cases of each, for a total of around 3,000 cases annually. The winery is known as a pioneer of Lake Chelan’s booming wine industry due to their innovative growing practices, varietals, and award-winning wines, including Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Viognier, Chardonnay, Methode Champenoise, and Pinot Noir. Due to the limited distribution, many of the wines offered are available exclusively in the tasting rooms. Specialty offerings include the second iced cider ever produced in the U.S., which is made from local Lake Chelan braeburn apples.