Michael is a fourth-generation Washington native, whose love of the great wines of the world began while he was in his early twenties. At that time, he joined a group that purchased old wine cellars for their own education. His personal wine epiphany came about while tasting wines that had once been in the cellar of film director Alfred Hitchcock. Those classic, well-cellared wines, and many that followed, helped to shape his palate. When he decided to start his own wine projects, it was his first-hand knowledge of many of the greatest wines in the world that informed and inspired every decision.
Each of the Corliss wineries occupies a carefully-defined niche. For Tranche, it is a focus on Rhône varietals, and the opportunity to explore other Mediterranean grapes, all from estate-grown grapes. The pursuit of quality at an affordable cost has been the goal from the very beginning, and is built into the DNA of these wines.
“I did not at the beginning fully envision that we’d be where we are today,” Michael confides. “When you’re on a journey you take a lot of notes, and write it up when you finish. After 13 years, we know very clearly what we are doing, and where we are going.”
Lauri Corliss describes her role in Tranche this way: “I am responsible for hiring, regulatory issues, licensing, and operations. Mike is the vision guy, I’m the detail person. So everything that has to be managed logistically comes through me.” In other words (though she would never say it herself), without Lauri, the whole complex operation would grind to a halt.
Her background in business – banking, real estate, and development – brings skills that few people in this industry can claim. Yet they are essential if you are intent upon building a lasting legacy. Lauri’s wine education really took off when Michael asked her to represent him at vintage wine auctions. “For several years before we started the wineries,” she recalls, “I traveled to these wine auctions, studied all the wines of the world, and came to understand the whole spectrum of quality wines.”
Everyone at Tranche has a favorite child, so to speak. Lauri’s is the Pink Pape Dry Rosé, done in a lively, elegant, Euro-inflected style. Best of all, she can put the entire project in perfect perspective. “Tranche is designed to have a totally different personality from its sibling Corliss,” she explains. “Corliss is more timeless, as it is intended to be. But we want Tranche to be cutting edge.”
A native of Perth, Australia, Andrew began his winemaking career in the Margaret River region, a place that is highly respected, as is Walla Walla, for crafting wines of structure and grace. His formal education took place at the University of Adelaide, South Australia, where he studied Oenology. “In Australia,” he notes, “young winemakers try to gain as much experience as quickly as possible. You can work two or three harvests a year in different parts of the world to build your knowledge base.”
Andrew learned winemaking quickly and thoroughly, doing the work of crush in New Zealand, California, the Mosel and Barossa before finding a permanent home with Tranche in Walla Walla. “It seemed like a most interesting place to make an impact in a young and fast-moving wine industry,” he explains.
Now in his seventh Washington vintage, Andrew’s global perspective and fine-tuned touch with a wide range of grape varieties is evident in every bottle of Tranche wine.