“51Weeks is about real people striking out on their own and starting small…we’re making real wine in a bootstrap, self-funded, old school way. Some wines are non-apologetic, some more nuanced. We’re not chasing fleeting trends and there’s no pretense. It’s about authenticity in style and story,” - Matt Vuylsteke
51Weeks is a family micro-winery focused on small lots of interesting varietals from the PNW. Portland couple Matt and Nancy Vuylsteke run all facets of the business together, and for sentimental reasons, give particular attention to varietals within the geographic area of their courtship many moons ago.
It’s taken a while to get to 51Weeks. The Vuylstekes have operated a wine consulting business, Farm to Cork, for over 10 years and discussed introducing their own wines for eons. Nancy explains, “51Weeks is the natural evolution of many years of hard work in the wine industry. It’s also the direct effect of a really crazy period…there was a series of life-altering events that tested our sanity. Imagine the best and worst in life, all in a mere 51-week period. From the utter chaos we found great clarity and made the decision to move forward in a meaningful way.”
It is the underlying message of perseverance that is the foundation for the 51Weeks venture. While this message is very personal to Matt and Nancy, it is also universal; doesn’t everyone have their own ‘51Weeks’ at some point? And with that, the unconventional name of 51Weeks was coined.
Portland native Matt Vuylsteke is the chief winemaker at 51Weeks and Farm to Cork. It may have been inevitable that winemaking found it’s way into Matt’s heart; after all, it is literally in his blood. Back in the early 1900’s, his great-grandfather was a winemaker in Bordeaux. His Aunt and Uncle also founded one of Oregon’s oldest wineries. Matt’s first harvest dates back to 1997 when he had the privilege of learning the craft from the legendary Barney Watson at Tyee. Matt graduated with a B.S. in Fermentation Science and Chemistry from OSU then went on to work with esteemed wineries in Oregon and Washington. Not one to remain idle, Matt decided to expand his scope of experience and transitioned to the supply side of the wine industry. Here he was able to hone his expertise in filtration, processing, and sales while he concurrently completed his MBA degree and starting a consulting company.
Nancy has learned about winemaking hands-on over many years from her husband via osmosis. She has always been obsessed with flavor, which led her to pursue a B.S. in Nutrition & Foods from OSU. She spent 13 years working within product/culinary development and marketing for NW food companies. A perpetual learner, Nancy completed select professional culinary courses and her MBA while working full time. Most recently, her focus has shifted to the development of her beloved 51Weeks.
Much has happened in the many years since Matt and Nancy met in WA wine country, yet they remain committed to each other and a shared vision. They would tell you that hands-down, their greatest adventure to date is that of parenthood to Irish twins. Yet another piece to the larger story, their Irish twins just happen to be exactly 51 weeks apart in age.
The Vuylstekes are grateful for the opportunity to produce limited artisan wines together and to build a legacy of meaningful work, giving, and strong work ethic for their children.