The Wine Company was one of the first wholesalers around to build a serious Washington State portfolio, and if there is one winery that is the foundation of that portfolio, it’s Janiuk (along with its sibling property, Novelty Hill).
The term gets used too often, but in this case “living legend” is accurate to describe founder, owner, and winemaker Mike Januik. He’s had over a dozen wines in the Wine Spectator Top 100, and even Robert Parker can be counted as a superfan saying, “Nobody in Washington State delivers more outstanding quality for the dollar than Januik winery.”
But this reputation doesn’t go to his head. As Januik is described on the Novelty Hill/Januik website: “Mike doesn’t think it is essential you know he was named one of the world’s ten “Masters of Merlot” by Wine Enthusiast magazine. He’d be the last guy to tell you he’s had more than a dozen wines appear on Wine Spectator’s prestigious “Top 100” list, including recognition for his own wine as well as Novelty Hill, (the only other label to benefit from his winemaking talents, aside from Januik, of course). He doesn’t think you’d be interested to know he was the head winemaker at Chateau Ste. Michelle for ten years before leaving to start Januik Winery in 1999 or that he’s been making wine in the Columbia Valley since 1984.
But he thinks you might be interested to know he plays the guitar; was once a backcountry ranger; loves to cook; owned a wine shop in Ashland, Oregon; is as well known among family and friends for his fresh fruit smoothies and holiday eggnog as his Cabernet; prefers reading poetry to non-fiction; was once a whitewater river guide and sends text-messages to his two college-age sons about as often as he tastes through wines during harvest.
He’s been described as intelligent, creative, compulsive, innovative, compassionate, proud, humble and inspired. He’s part hippy, part establishment and complete perfectionist and bon vivant. “Unlike many of his winemaking brethren with much less to hang their hats on, Januik is not egocentric,” wrote Pierre Rovani for Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. He’s found his sweet spot running a small winery that is all about creating something that brings pleasure to the table. As Mike would say with a shrug, “I want my wines to speak for themselves.” Enough said.”