Marty Clubb is Managing Winemaker and Co-Owner of L’Ecole No 41 with his wife, Megan, and children, Riley and Rebecca. Founded by Megan’s parents, Jean and Baker Ferguson, in 1983 L’Ecole was the third winery in Walla Walla Valley.
Marty assumed responsibilities as manager and winemaker in 1989 and since that time, he has led L’Ecole to become one of the most respected wineries in Washington State.
Today L’Ecole is at the forefront of sustainable farming in the Walla Walla Valley, notably with their Estate Ferguson and Estate Seven Hills Vineyards, both of which are certified sustainable and certified Salmon Safe.
Q&A WITH MARTY CLUBB
Q: Describe the “aha” moment when you first fell in love with wine.
Q: Do you have a philosophy of winemaking / about wine you strive to share with others?
Q: What led you to select/favor Nomacorc PlantCorcs?
We certainly had our fair share of cork taint. Initially, I began to explore options for our white wines, and the Nomacorc Green line stood out. Made from sugar cane, the idea of a plant-based product appealed to our sustainability direction, and the controlled oxygen permeability was an added benefit. I learned that Ken Wright had been using Nomacorc for over 15 years and I was sold. Nomacorc designed a new closure skin that made it feel like real cork, and quite frankly very few people even realize there is a difference. We are now phasing into these corks on all our Heritage Columbia Valley wines.
Q: Who inspires you personally — in wine or any endeavor?
Q: What is the most overrated trend in wine today?
Q: What new winemakers/industry leaders are you most excited about, and why?
Q: If you weren’t a winemaker/wine business leader what would you be doing?
Prior to L’Ecole, I worked on project finance and development for Bechtel. I worked with the CFO and General Counsel to negotiate creative solutions to high-risk financial problems (i.e. the Chunnel project from England to France; later I delighted in taking my first ride). The wine business was at first a left turn, but that early experience helped me to learn to wear different hats: farmer, winemaker, brand builder, building partnerships with distributors, and building broad customer relations, all key to a successful winery brand. The bonus has been to lead a family business and to avoid corporate politics.
Q: What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Q: What, if anything, do you leave to chance in the cellar or in life?