Scaling the Peaks

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Washington State’s winemaking ranks are well populated with ex-dentists, pharmacists, engineers, media producers and a physicist or two. The decision to veer away from a stable career to start a winery may have been the biggest gamble of their lives.

But for a small coterie of professional mountain climbers, making wine has been a safe refuge from the perils of their other work. Eric Murphy (Ott & Murphy), Rob Newsom (Boudreaux Cellars) and Chuck Reininger (Reininger Winery) have all reached the summit of their exhilarating, dangerous profession.

What can climbing mountains teach them in the seemingly mundane world of grape wrangling? Are the risks any less worrisome when it’s your bank account on the line, rather than your life? What’s the most terrifying challenge each has faced?

Meet the men who have traded their pitons for puncheons.

—Paul Gregutt
Photos by Patrick Bennett

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Scaling the Peaks

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