Anyone who knows Ute knows she is a huge fan of Brandi Carlile! But did you know that Brandi, her wife Catherine and their friends Jeri and Amy Andrews started their own wine label? In this episode, we catch up on our own lives and then dive into Brandi Carlile, XOBC Cellars, the wine, and how they support charity. Check the links below to find out more!
In need of a podcast intro or other type of jingle? Message us so we can put you in touch with Celine Mitchell, the young artist who wrote our intro for us.
- SIP Magazine: “Whether you know it or not, XOBC Cellars is your new favorite winery”
- XOBC Cellars
- Seattle Times: “Happy Anniversary, it’s been 10 years since WA legalized same sex marriage, including mine”
- Women in Wine Oregon: Speaker Bios
- Looking Out Foundation
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Full episode transcript:
Ute: Hey, it’s Ute
Ali: and Ali
Ute: with another episode of A Gen Xer
Ali: and A Millennial
Ute: Walk Into A Winery.
Listeners, before we dive into this episode, we have some really awesome news to share with you, plus we have a favor to ask. Starting next week, every episode of the Thru The Grapewine Podcast will be an interview with a woman in the wine or wine adjacent industries.
But if you are interested in our Gen Xer and a Millennial episodes where we get more personal and do video episodes, you are in luck because we are going to launch our Patreon account by April 15th.
Ali: [trumpet fanfare noises] We’re really excited about this change. With Patreon we plan to start out small and grow our offerings from there. We will have different team levels with a fun welcome gift once you sign up. And we will also have monthly Patreon exclusive video episodes of A Gen Xer and A Millennial. Eventually we want to start adding in monthly live happy hours with our Patreon supporters, and we even have dreams of adding in merch someday soon.
The crux behind us starting Patreon is that with your support, we will be able to continue bringing on amazing guests for our interviews as well as continue to expand this fun adventure outside of the podcast episodes. So if you love what we do here and you’re able to, we’d love your financial support. Head on over to Patreon (and we will drop the link for that) on April 15th.
Choose the tier that’s right for you. We even have a choose your own adventure tier that lets you pick your monthly donation level. I think it’s anywhere from one to $25. We truly appreciate all of you, Patreon or not, and are excited to be able to add all of these fun bonuses on top of our regular content.
Ute: That’s right. I mean, a dollar a month, dude.
Ute: Right. Yeah, that’s, that’s like, I can, I can do that.
Ali: Yeah. Our, our regular tiers are gonna be $5 a month and of course, if you know anything about us, those tiers are Team Red Wine and Team Bubbles. So show your support for the, we all know who the winning team is, Team Bubbles.
Ute: This is how we start this episode out.
Ali: Hey, we haven’t had an episode where we get to rib each other, lately. So
Ute: I see how it is!
Ali: Gotta make up for lost time.
Ute: Okay. Okay.
Ali: It has been a while since we’ve recorded toge… I mean like recorded one of these. We literally just recorded yesterday together!
Ute: But yes.
Well, but it was an interview and so with the interviews it’s always a little bit different. We don’t really do the catching up that we would normally do.
Ute: In a Gen Xer and Millennial episode. So this is fun.
Ali: Yeah, I think it’s, I think it’s been like a month since we’ve just gotten to sit down with our mics and catch up, so…
Ute: Yeah, for sure.
Ali: It’s interesting. What’s happened in that month?
Ute: Well, you know, this is kind of crazy. For, for my family, my son’s birthday’s coming up. And I can talk about this because we’re going to be literally publishing this episode tomorrow. So
Ali: Yes, we are.
Ute: So it’s not gonna be untimely. So my son’s birthday, this is a cute and funny little story.
My son’s birthday’s, April 7th. And I got married on April 7th.
Ute: So April 7th, 2000, my husband and I tied the knot, and then our daughter was born in 2001. And, in 2003 I was pregnant with my son and our due date was actually April 3rd. And I was, you know, doing what every pregnant woman does when she really, really wants to give birth.
I started walking a lot and, you know, climbing stairs and doing all the things and just hoping that I would go into labor. And, the 6th, April 6th at 5:00 PM I started having contractions. And so I had this little conversation with my belly and I said, “Okay, dude. Now here’s the thing. You have until midnight. You have until midnight to get born because tomorrow is my wedding anniversary. And I’d like to celebrate that.”
And well, 27 hours later…
Ali: Oh my gosh!
Ute: April 7th. Yeah. It was a long delivery. It was like, 8:40 something at night. He was born on our wedding anniversary, so I have not had a, truly had a wedding anniversary on that date since he was born.
Ali: Well, I hope you and Mike can like get… Oh, you did get -You went up to the mountain early this year, didn’t you?
Ute: We did do an early thing. So, yeah, we, and, and knowing of course, you know that my son is gonna be, you know, celebrating his birthday and my daughter’s coming up from San Diego and so it’s gonna be, it’s gonna be a good time. We’re gonna have a great time together, and we just now do not celebrate on the 7th because there’s always gonna be something else.
Ali: Well, that’s fun.
Ute: So you’re training for marathon!
Ali: Half marathon!
Ute: Half marathon. I see.
Ali: Yeah. Yeah. I signed up for the Eugene Half Marathon at the end of April, and I am just over halfway in training right now.
It was, it was a little rough and I, I had a moment that I feel like a lot of runners get during their training. I, earlier in March… I guess almost a month ago now, I traveled back to Iowa for my nephew’s first birthday and to see family. And when I got home, literally like less than 24 hours after getting home, I just got hit with something.
I tested, it wasn’t covid. I tested multiple times, but I was out for over a week, like sore throat, stuffy nose, body aches, just the whole gamut. And it took on top of travel and then getting sick and trying to, you know, kind of crutch myself back into running, I ended up missing, I think three of my long runs. Mm-hmm. And so like two and a half weeks total of training right in the middle. So it’s like right when everything is starting to ramp up. So, yeah, I had some moments where I was just like, you know, you’re, you’re downer moments as a runner and just having all the, the doubts and anxiety and everything.
But decided to, I, I was hoping to do it in a, in a certain time, this half marathon, and I don’t think that’s gonna happen. So I think just for my own sanity, just letting go of the expectations of the time that I wanted and just looking to sign up for maybe a fall or winter marathon later in the year. So I can keep this training going and keep myself motivated past the half marathon. But for now it’s just get through the half marathon.
Ute: And just getting back into the swing of things, I think is, you know, is a good goal to have to just run it and have a good time with it.
Ali: Yeah, for sure. So I’m hoping to, to find a nice, fun race that… the last race I did that really motivated me was 2021. My husband and I, and a good friend, all three of us got into the Chicago Marathon together. And so we were all training for that together. And then we got to take this basically, run-cation with our close friends, so I am, it was, it was such a blast, and the weather was hot and humid, but amazing for that whole trip.
And so yeah, just trying to, trying to find that, that drive again in my running.
Ute: Yeah. Right, right. Well, we’ll continue talking about that. Like you can, you can catch us up when it’s in the bag.
Ali: Yeah. Yeah. Just wish all of this rain would go away because it definitely makes me more of a fair weather runner when it is literally hailing outside every other day.
Ute: I looked at the forecast for the next 10 days and it’s just as crappy as it has been, so Woo-hoo. So well, but you know, why don’t we not talk about the weather, but instead kind of start focusing on the women that we’re gonna be covering today? Because it’s not just one, it’s two.
Ali: Yeah. No wine for us today, y’all. Sorry, I’m sitting here. Trying to guzzle down my coffee.
Ute: Yeah, I, I mean, we’re, yeah, we’re recording this episode in the morning, so it’s, you know, a little, it’s a little early for that still.
Ali: I’ve got, I’ve got a five miler today, so can’t pop out the mimosas for this one.
Ute: Oh, well, maybe not.
All right. So, you know how we have these hopes, these dreams and goals of, you know, especially as podcasters who we would just die to have on the podcast.
Well, the woman that I am going to talk about is sitting just right there at the top of my list, and her name is Brandi Carlile.
Ali: Woot woo!
Ute: I love her. Now, I know some of you out there are thinking, why the heck does she want to talk about Grammy Award-winning Brandi Carlile on a wine podcast? Well, the answer is of course, that Brandi has started a wine label called XOBC Cellars.
But let’s talk about Brandi for a moment. The woman is amazing, and I have been a fan of hers since she was an up and coming singer 20 years ago. I watched her perform at one what can be considered a relatively small venue by today’s standards, just over 600 seats. It was the Aladdin in Portland, and the show was almost sold out, but not quite.
Nowadays, of course, she can fill concert venues that hold 25,000 seats and more without any issues. Anyway, I’ve been following her since those early days, and soon my daughters became little fan girls as well, especially my younger daughter, Celine, who by the way, wrote the intro song for our podcast.
Ute: Right. Yeah, it’s, isn’t it great?
Ali: I love that song so much.
Ute: I know I do, too.
Ali: I get like a little dance going every time it starts.
Ute: Right? I know. Yes. So we, we love her intro. And by the way, if you want an intro written for yourself or you need a little jingle, let us know and we’ll put you in touch with Celine. She’ll do it.
All right. Anyway, so Celine has admired Brandi since she was a little girl, and when she, as in my daughter, announced that she was gay, Brandi was the singer that she felt a connection with because Brandi, of course, is also gay. It is so easy for a young person to relate to someone and to see that others who are like, you can be happy, married, famous, and do all the things that you hope and dream of doing with your own life. That’s just, that’s everything. So seeing Brandi get married and have these two lovely little girls and living the dream and becoming a superstar was always really special in our household. I do hope Brandi knows that she doesn’t just inspire people with her music, but also with how she lives her.
Like in this commune in Seattle with all of her band members. It’s kind of cool. It’s
kind of cool.
Ali: That is awesome. I didn’t realize that she lived with all of her band members too.
Ute: Yes. They all live on this plot together and you know, they have animals and they make music together and it’s, yeah, it’s pretty special.
Ali: Sounds like a peaceful, happy place.
Ute: Right? Do you wanna start a commune?
Ali: Um, maybe… I’ll go visit.
Ute: I dunno that I would wanna live in a commune necessarily, but, you know, to have, to have people I love near me.
Ute: That, I think that must be just amazing. And I do love that I have at least two of my three kids close by.
Ali: Right, right. The idea of just. Especially there, there’s always gonna be music. You know? There’s going to always be music there.
Ute: Yeah. Yeah.
Ali: So I think just like waking up and you just hear like someone like pr I’m, I guess also because I know the, the style of Brandi’s music. And it’s just very like soul soothing kind of music.
So I think to just like wake up and you’re like, “Oh, hear Brandi Carlile music!” I guess I could just like set an alarm and have her music playing.
Ute: Gosh, look, Brandi’s singing. You know, and I will say I really do appreciate having music in the house. Celine is my musician, and she would sometimes when she was still living at home, she’d just sit down at the piano and start playing and singing.
And sometimes she’d do this for like an hour at a time or longer.
Ali: Oh yeah. Yeah.
Ute: And when that went away, that was really weird. It was just, you know, so quiet. And, and you know, part of me knew, you know, in the afternoon at 3:00 PM or whatever time it was, Celine would come home and she would play the piano.
Ali: Yeah, yeah.
Ute: And sing. And it was, yeah, I’m, I still miss that. And so every time she comes back, I’m always glad when she sits down at the piano and makes music.
Ali: Yeah, I can definitely relate to that. I have one of my best friends as I was growing up, her whole family was, is very musically inclined. And so anytime you would walk into their house, someone was playing the piano or her dad was playing the guitar and it was just, [happiness]. She’ll occasionally post on Instagram just stories of her playing, sitting down and just playing the piano.
And I’m like, oh my gosh. That instantly transports me back and I could sit and watch that whole family play music all day. Oh, it was, it was so lovely.
Ute: I love that. Yeah. Okay, well let’s get back to Brandi.
Ali: Wine. Wine. Right.
Ute: So in 2019, Brandi, together with her wife Catherine, and their friends Jeri and Amy Andrews, founded XOBC Cellars, a label that has already gotten a lot of attention in the wine industry. Which is of course not that surprising considering how famous Brandi Carlile is. We will talk a bit about XOBC and the wines in a bit, but I’m gonna go and hand it over to Ali here because the woman she will be talking about is important to this story.
So take it away, Ali.
Ali: Yeah. So as Ute just mentioned, Jeri Andrews is one of the leading ladies behind XOBC Cellars label. Her professional background is in the corporate world of finance and technology. Breaking it down in the simplest way possible, which kind of have to laugh at because there’s nothing simple about all of the things that this woman does.
She works with C-Suites, professional athletes, entertainers… pretty much high ranking, big names to develop goals, business plans, further skills, and team building. Her speaker bio she sends out before appearances states, “Jeri has worked around the world on a variety of complex transactions and helped her clients develop leadership skills, manage crises, transition businesses, restructure management teams, and create new business opportunities”.
I mean like mind blowing. Like she is a veritable powerhouse when it comes to business development.
Ali: We were actually, Ute and I, were lucky enough to hear her speak during the 2022 Women in Wine Oregon Annual Conference last July. I was looking through my notes from her talk, which was titled Champion for Change. And a couple of quotes that stuck with me enough to write them down. I, I realized, looking back at my notes, that I must have just like sat and listened because these were literally the only two things I wrote down, and they’re both quotes that she said during the, during her talk. So one is “courage originally meant ‘to speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart’”. And the other one was, “you can’t do epic shit with mediocre people”.
Ute: Hear hear!
Ali: Oh, I love that.
Ute: Yeah. Yeah. They’re both so great.
Ute: I love it.
Ali: So Jeri married her wife Amy in December of 2012, when Washington State finally legalized same-sex marriage.
There is a gorgeous editorial written by Amy on their 10 year anniversary in the Seattle Times, and I’ll put that link in the show notes for y’all to read. Like, I basically just wanted to read that whole thing here because it was so beautiful, so well written. And I wanna make sure that everybody reads this.
I don’t wanna just read it all straight to you. So in 2019, they teamed up with Brandi and Catherine to create XOBC Cellars with a few shared ideals in mind: community, friendship, and above all, give voice to those historically left voiceless. Their biggest desire was to make a difference in this world, and much like how Ute mentioned Brandi making an impact by the way she lives her, all four of these women are able to make an impact on the world by allocating portions of their profits towards the Looking Out Foundation.
The Looking Out Foundation, as taken from their About page “amplifies the impact of music by empowering those without a voice”. Since their inception in 2008, they have been able to provide over $4 million in the US and around the world through disaster relief, food insecurity programs, incarceration prevention, racial justice and self-defense courses.
Their About page also lists specific ways that various levels of donations can help someone. For example, a $10 donation provides a welcome day school kit for preschool kids in need of essential supplies. So it’s like a little backpack and like notebooks and, and pens and, and crayons, like, ugh. It’s just so adorable and I love it so much.
Ali: As well as a ton of organizations and causes they are passionate about helping. I highly recommend checking out the website to see how you are able to get involved. It literally, it’s broken down by industry, so there’s a whole section of education causes that they support or music causes, art causes, like so many different organizations are listed. There are opportunities everywhere. I know I am personally going to be adding this one to my list of places that I donate to every year.
Ute: The winery does not have a tasting room, so you’ll have to purchase it online, but that’s okay because they have some pretty cool wine club options.
It looks like all membership options have two shipments per year, and that’s gonna be in the spring and in the fall. You can be a Classic Collector, Crimson Collector, Confident Collector, Captain Collector, and Crystal Collector, which is actually their non-alcoholic hop water as they call it.
And then you have the Custom Collector. So I guess you just kinda pick and choose what you want in your shipments. And these memberships start at $210 per shipment. And of course, by being a member, you get wine and support the Looking Out Foundation while you’re at it. So all around a win-win. Yeah.
Ali: Do you know, are you able to buy just individual bottles or do you have to be a club member?
Ute: I may have to Google that.
Ali: I was like, did I lose you? Oh my gosh.
Ute: No, no. But you know what, I’m gonna, while you tell our listeners about our private Facebook group, I’m gonna find that out.
Ali: Alrighty, listeners, if you’re a woman interested in wine who would like to connect with other women with the same interest, join us in our private Facebook group.
It’s a safe space for women to connect, learn, laugh, and recommend wine. Find us on Facebook at Thru The Grapewine Club Members request to join and answer the questions, especially the age question, and check the box that you agree to the group rules and you’re in! We look forward to having you!
Ute: So, I did a quick Google search and you can buy some of the wine if you’re not a Collector, but there are definitely wines listed where it says Collectors Only.
So there is the Mother Chardonnay, that’s a Collectors Only. The ’21 BCE Cab Sauv is Collectors Only. But then you have the Proud Sparkling Rose, for instance, that you can buy. You will get for certain bottles if you purchase it and you are a Collector, you get a discount.
Ute: But yes, you can definitely hop on there and just purchase some of the wine without being a Collector.
Ali: Well, let’s dive into the wine a little bit more. So yeah, so this is a Washington State Winery and as we mentioned, the ladies are all based just outside of Seattle. That being said, they definitely have a bit more to offer than just the typical Pinot noir and Chardonnay and Pinot Gris that we see offered here in Oregon.
Washington is actually able to grow a few more cooler climate varieties than the Willamette Valley. So at XOBC you can get a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Syrah, a Grenache, a red blend with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah, and a sparkling rose that is a GSM blend, which is Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre. Yeah, Mourvedre. I always stumble on that one.
My first introduction to XOBC Cellars wine was actually last summer. Robbie and I went up to Seattle for a few days. We are big baseball people, and I’m so glad that it’s baseball season again. I’m a Twins fan and he’s a Mariners fan, and so we always try to go up to Seattle whenever the Twins are in town.
We actually got engaged outside of a Twins/Mariners game in Seattle, but that can be a whole other story some other time. So we were in town and out of all the times that we have been up to Seattle together, we had never gone to the top of the Space Needle. So we headed over early one morning and got to the top.
It’s 10:00 AM… I, I don’t have an issue with heights. Like I will sit on an airplane and I will stare at the ground the whole time. Like I don’t, it heights aren’t a bother for me. It’s when I feel like there is not… the railing tricks my brain into thinking it’s not actually there. I don’t, I don’t know how to fully explain it, but if you have been to the top of the Space Needle, the observation deck on top is a clear glass walls. And so it feels like there is nothing there. And that freaks my brain out a little bit. My stomach actually just did a little dip, like thinking of it again.
So it’s it’s 10 o’clock in the morning, I’m freaking out. Because Robbie’s like, “no, just sit on the benches!” The benches are also clear and they tilt backwards so that it just naturally, gravity pulls you back towards the clear glass wall.
So you’re basically like laying backwards with nothing but clear glass behind you. So we get up to the top. I am panicking a little bit. I see that there is a bar open already at 10:00 AM and I was like, “we are grabbing a drink”. And also, if you know me, I, if there are pink bubbles on offer, I am there. I will always get pink bubbles first and foremost, and then decide what else I wanna drink from there.
That is like my deciding wine. So Robbie grabs a beer. I grab the pink bubbles and then I like look over and see they have a bottle displayed so you can see what, what you’re ordering. And I was like, this bottle looks so cool. There’s, you know, the, the pride flag on it and everything. And so I took a closer look and it was the XOBC Proud Pink Bubbly.
And it was really good. And it definitely helped calm my fears. I, I have a photo. I did sit on the bench. I tried leaning back. I maybe I’ll, maybe I’ll post a photo on our Instagram stories tomorrow so you can see…
Ute: I think you should!
Ali: …how terrified I am. The deck below the observation deck has a glass floor and Robbie, like, I have a photo.
Robbie is like leaning down like he’s such an engineer. He’s trying to see like all the gears and everything, cuz that part, that portion spins. Slowly. And so he’s like looking at at the mechanics of everything. And I’m like, no, I’m fine on the carpet. Please leave me alone.
Ute: Yeah. That will be my husband. He’ll be like, “Ooh, how is this made?”
Ali: It’s the mechanical engineer brains.
Ute: Yep. That’s a fact.
Ali: Oh man. Have you had any of their wines before?
Ute: You know, good story!
Ali: Story time!
Ute: So in, in the summer of 2021, my daughter and I went to a Brandi Carlile concert in Bend here in Oregon. Mm-hmm. And XOBC Cellars had a whole tasting area set up there, and I was completely unaware that it was Brandi’s label. So, because I didn’t know, and my daughter was still under 21 and couldn’t enter that area, I skipped it. I went for a different beverage elsewhere. And I’m kind of angry at myself for it because, seriously, how could I not have known, I could have just grabbed a glass real quick and you know, anyway, so I hear good things about the wine.
And when you look at sites like Vivino, where wine drinkers can rate wines, it holds a pretty steady four out of five possible stars.
Ute: SIP Magazine wrote a piece with an interview and the headline reads, “Whether you know it or not, XOBC Cellars is your new favorite winery”.
So I’m not doubting it to tell you the truth. Of course, I am really kind of biased. I love Brandi and she can do no wrong.
Ali: Yeah, I mean, it sounds like we should probably just go in on a case together and try some on a future episode. Yeah?
Ute: Yeah, we could do that for Patreon.
Ali: Yeah, that’d be a good one to do. Do some, do some wine unboxing, uncorking.
Ute: Oh my gosh, that would be so cool.
Ali: That would be fun. Yeah, yeah.
Ute: Yay. I’m getting excited.
Ali: I know, I was, I was actually thinking about it cuz I was trying to figure out the different things that we could do for Patreon and I was like, I’m a wine club member at places and you are too. Like we could easily do videos of like club unboxings. Or if we order some wine, we can definitely do some on video tastings with people and…
Ali: Yeah, I think it’d be really fun.
Ute: Sweet. I love it.
Ute: I love it. I love it. All right. Well, and with that, we are already at the end of this episode. I think it was, it was fun. It was good, you know. It was different again from the interviews.
Ali: It was good to get to catch up, cuz I mean, I know that we, we text throughout the week and everything, but we haven’t, we haven’t just sat down and, and chatted about what’s been going on lately, so this was nice.
Ute: Yes, very true.
Ali: A little catch-up.
Ute: Yeah. Yeah, for sure.
Ute: Well, excellent. In that case, listeners, we really don’t have much else to say here.
We hope you enjoyed this episode as much as we had creating it and all we have left to say at this point is, of course, Prost!
Ute: Love it!