Q+A with Yashar Shayan

of Impulse Wine
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Photo by Ethan Chung

Impulse Wine was started by Yashar Shayan, a certified sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers. He has experience at restaurant standouts like Willows Inn on Lummi Island, Seastar Restaurant and Raw Bar and more. Shayan discusses the business model of Impulse Wine, what we should be drinking this fall and the future of Washington wine.

What is Impulse Wine?
At its simplest it’s an online wine shop. The first thing people think of is a discount concept, like a liquidator. “Oh, they must have wines that are 50 percent off.” But that’s not what Impulse Wine is about. It’s about finding the best wines, rather than finding the cheapest wines or the wines with the best profit margin … a lot of fun and experimental wines that winemakers are doing that you can’t find elsewhere. Stuff from people like Mark Ryan and Trey Busch of Sleight of Hand. It’s about discovering new wines that are worth finding. It’s also the only wine shop that offers free delivery, Eastside and Westside, with no minimum purchase. I hand deliver them, and I get to interact with my customers. They can give me feedback on their purchase, and it creates a great rapport.

What should we be drinking in September and October?
Locally I would say, in the context of vintage, we’ll be seeing a lot of 2012s from Oregon and Washington. I can see it now — 2012 is going to be a blockbuster vintage. The wines are going to be showy and spectacular, and you’re going to see lots of great reviews and high-scoring wines. It’s also going to be a great vintage for value wines because there’s an abundance of good fruit. Seasonally, it’s a great time for lighter reds — Oregon pinot, Washington grenache, and of course champagne, which is always in season as far as I’m concerned.

Is there a varietal that’s underrepresented in Washington Wine?
As consumers I think we can always expand and drink more of the lesser-known grapes. The average wine drinker still sticks to the basics, cabernet, merlot, chardonnay, which we should continue to drink more of. As far as getting some buzz, I think Washington has done a really strong job of putting other grape varieties on the shelf. We’re seeing some amazing grenache, syrah and chenin blanc. I think we’re there. There isn’t a particular grape here that’s in the dog house.

What does Washington wine look like in five, or even 10 years?
I think we’re going to see more national and international attention. There was a recent article in Conde Nast Traveler that had the headline, “Skip Napa Valley. Visit Yakima Valley Instead.” I think we’ll see a lot more tourism as an industry. A lot of foreign and out-of-area investment. The Napa wineries are coming. Gallo buying Columbia, Duckhorn coming up here and Cakebread setting up shop, too. All of that is going to spur development and tourism. We’ll see more restaurants and hotels in wine country. The Columbia Gorge, I think, is going to be discovered in a big way. There is incredible potential for growth there. It’s still in its infancy, but I expect big things for that region.

Find out more about Impulse Wine

is a contributor to 425 magazine.
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