WALLA WALLA, Wash. — Hailing from Hong Kong, Fiona Mak moved to Walla Walla nearly a decade ago to pursue her passion of wine making.
“When I first moved to Walla Walla about 10 years ago, there wasn't a lot of rosè around,” said Mak. “So I decided to open a rosè winery, just to explore the versatility of rosè. To kind of bring also the fun factor back into wine drinking.”
Mak owns SMAK Winery which specializes in making rosè wine not just for the hot summer months, but as a year-round drink of choice.
“Part of my family comes from France, and rosè to French people is a lifestyle,” said Mak. “And they associate that with sunshine. I love that a lot because it doesn't really matter what kind of setting that you're in, you can be on a beach, but you can also be skiing with snow on the ground. You’re still drinking outside because the sun is out.”
SMAK has a total of 6 rosè wines that have tasting notes based on the seasons that they represent, with two abstracts varieties that represent a little bit of everything.
“What I didn't like, was the idea of having a rosè just in the summertime,” said Mak. “It's very limiting as a wine lover because you're basically distilling the entire category of wine into one season. Nobody, no other winemaker is just going to come out and say, “Oh, you only drink red wine in winter.”
Celebrating AAPI month with Smak Wines
SMAK is located in the “incubator” that is owned by the Port of Walla Walla to help start businesses in the beverage industry make and sell their products under one roof. The Port of Commissioners must first approve their business plan, then they’re able to lease one of their buildings for six years before moving on.
“The goal is to kind of grow out of the building,” said Mak. “Like the building should be too small for production.”
In addition to being a fresh face in the ever-growing wine industry, Mak is also a rarity in that she is one of the only women and women of color to own and produce wine.
“I know there are people of color but there aren't many Asians in the business, let alone owning wineries,” said Mak. “I love Walla Walla, because it's such a collaborative spirit, and the community is really supportive. So they don't look at me as a person of color, they just look at me as a person.”
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