Noble was formed in mid-1988 by Greg Nelson and Chuck Marush. They had both been working for the (then) largest wine distributor in the Western Washington market, and had increasingly seen the importance of fine wine as a focus of sales give way to emphasis on wine coolers and jug brands. They approached two wineries, Saintsbury and Adelsheim (reflecting their love of Pinot Noir), about representing them as brokers in the Northwest. But, David Adelsheim succinctly told them, “We don’t need someone to broker our wine in that market; we need someone that can sell our wine in that market.”
As a result of this sage advice, they rethought their vision, and decided to start a small, fine wine distributorship that would target restaurants and independent wine retailers. With seed money from Chuck’s brother, they started with a limited portfolio, rented a small warehouse space near Gasworks Park, and defined Noble sales territories. Chuck took everything on the Eastside and Lake Union north to Blaine. Greg took the Olympic Peninsula and Lake Union South to Tumwater. Each would go out and call on accounts and sell wine during the day, and then come back to the warehouse to write invoices, pick orders, and load their dual used Volvo station wagons.
Their original plan for Noble was to have 5-6 sales representatives covering Western Washington. Over the past 25 years, this was not only achieved but surpassed taking the company to 110 employees, with 40 sales representatives covering 2100 accounts in 2 states. Noble continues to maintain a focus on fine wine from around the world, with the recent inclusion of artisanal beer, cider and spirits to complement the portfolio.
The motto of Noble highlights a quote from the noted wine writer of the past, Frank Schoonmaker:
All men might be created equal but all wines are not…some are Noble.