Our Story

The Mielke Family: Harry, Marcia, Elisa, John, and Kristina

The Mielke Family: Harry, Marcia, Elisa, John, and Kristina

In 1982, the Mielke family started on a venture that would eventually grow into the Inland Northwest’s premier winery.

Taking advantage of the budding Washington wine industry, they purchased a winery in California and moved the operations to the family’s old cherry-packing facility near the Upriver Dam in central Spokane.  Soon after, their very first wine, a Sauvignon Blanc from the Bacchus Vineyard, was sold from this location in March of 1982 officially starting Arbor Crest Wine Cellars, the 29th winery in Washington State.

Two years later, in 1984, the Mielkes acquired the historic Spokane Valley estate of Royal Riblet to serve as the idyllic new headquarters of the winery.  The company’s management offices moved into Riblet’s inventor’s workshop and for many years the quaint old garage of the estate’s Florentine-style mansion served as Arbor Crest’s unique tasting room.

Located atop a 450 ft. cliff with exquisite views of the city, The Cliff House Estate, as it is now known, has since become a destination for exceptional wines and memorable public events.

In 1999, the family business came full-circle as Kristina Mielke-van Löben Sels, the daughter of the Mielkes, came from her position as associate winemaker at Ferrari-Carano Vineyards in Sonoma County, California, to take over as the head winemaker for Arbor Crest.

Kristina and her husband, Jim van Löben Sels, who has a strong background in agricultural economics and viticulture, are now celebrating over a decade of elegant, award-winning varietals. While continuing to refine and hone their craft, they hope to produce even more exciting wines from the best Washington State fruit sourced from some of the oldest and most respected vines in the state.

Since their arrival, several things have changed at Arbor Crest. The tasting room moved from the garage to a beautiful new facility built on the estate in 2003, and a second tasting room was located in Downtown Spokane’s River Park Square Mall for ten years (closed as of Jan 1, 2015; new downtown location to come).  Furthermore, both the level of production and selection of varietals has expanded, and Arbor Crest wines can now be found on store shelves around the world.

Despite continued growth, Arbor Crest’s family values, wonderful wines, and beautiful surroundings have remained unchanged since the winery’s founding nearly 30 years ago.  The entire Arbor Crest family looks forward to many more years of providing quality, award-winning wines.