While other teenagers were trying to steal sips from their dad’s vintage wines, Ray Curtis was dreaming of making his own. Ray’s career began at Shawnee Vineyards, where he was a jack-of-all-trades, bottling, labeling, and racking the central Ohio winery’s signature varietals. After moving to the Northwest 10 years ago Ray opened Olympia’s Northwest Mountain Winery, which lies along the idyllic South Sound Wine Trail and specializes in handcrafted wines of his own invention. Patrons populating the tasting room can enjoy such creations as the 2009 Columbia Valley syrah, which posits its flavor bouquet of dark cherries, cola, and smoked cedar to studious taste buds, or the Mountain Majesty, a medium-bodied blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and zinfandel. The Firebreathing mead earned a bronze medal at the Seattle Wine Awards for its surprising hints of honey and jalapeño, which delightfully complement spicy Thai dishes or bees with a taco craving.