DeLille’s Chris and Thea Upchurch’s Red Mountain Retreat
On Red Mountain, a winemaking couple create a space that’s both workplace and retreat
By Virginia Smyth February 27, 2017
Subway tiles line the kitchen walls, repurposed barn wood adds warmth to the floors and green louvered doors were repurposed from a restaurant Thea owned during a previous culinary career
They call it their “barn”—and the outlines of Chris and Thea Upchurch’s Red Mountain retreat does reference a farm structure.
This home—which also houses a state-of-the-art winemaking facility—has rescued the couple from 16-hour days beginning and ending with a drive over Snoqualmie Pass. As the head winemaker for Woodinville’s DeLille Cellars, Chris found that, during certain times of the year, his loyalties were split between vineyards in the famed Red Mountain AVA, outside of Benton City, and DeLille’s winemaking facility in Woodinville.
He also harbored a dream that many winemakers have: To own and cultivate his own vineyard and winemaking facility, and to create something that he calls generational. “I’m very proud of my career with DeLille,” Chris says of the renowned Woodinville winery founded in 1992. “We’ve done incredible things. But I have a lot of partners. Upchurch Vineyard, Thea and I own it all. We already have Kelsey involved,” he says, referring to their daughter, who handles marketing and sales. “One vineyard, one family, one wine.” Generational.
Thea and Chris walk through the vineyards that surround their Red Mountain home
The couple bought 18.5 acres of land on Red Mountain in 2007 and convinced well-known vineyard manager Dick Boushey to plant it with vines. (Chris uses the resulting grapes to create Upchurch Vineyard Cabernets; what he doesn’t use for his label is reserved for DeLille.) Construction of the barn, a 6,000-square-foot post-and-beam structure situated to take advantage of pastoral vineyard views, began in 2013.
“We had taken pictures of barns across the country,” says Chris. They admired a reconstructed barn at the Nickel & Nickel winery in Napa Valley. But finding an old barn in New England, as the Nickel & Nickel owners had, and then deconstructing and shipping it to Red Mountain was beyond their budget.
Instead, they adapted a design from Barn Pros of Monroe. “Aesthetically, we wanted to do something that enhanced the environment. We couldn’t think of anything better than a barn motif,” Chris says.
The ground-level tasting room is dominated by a striking painting by Spanish artist Salustiano which is also on the Upchurch Vineyard wine label
A significant portion of the two-story structure is underground—housing a large wine cellar and a lab. On the ground floor are cement wine vats and other equipment used for making wine, plus a room for wine tastings and events. Upstairs is the 1,800-square-foot living quarters, a place where industrial chic blends effortlessly with rustic touches. In the three bedrooms, and generous kitchen and living area, white subway tiles are used here and there, complemented by the well-honed warmth of repurposed barnwood floors.
Other touches include a spectacular chandelier Chris found at Restoration Hardware and original artwork throughout, chosen by Chris, an enthusiastic collector. “Artists and winemakers, we understand each other,” he notes.
The couple frequently entertain in this outdoor space, which features a table with a center well that runs its length, perfect for filling with ice and cooling a few bottles of wine. Nearby are a pizza oven and Kamado Joe barbecue grill
But Chris credits Thea with the sophisticated but comfortable decor and furnishings. Thea, who hails from the Netherlands, has decorated many homes in Europe. She jokes, “I discovered that Chris has opinions about the design. I told him I would give him five vetoes. After that, we did well. But he used them all.”