Bridge Press Cellars opened in 2009 with the immediate distinction of being the state’s 600th winery. In the four years since, both the industry and Melody and Brian Padrta’s small winery have grown. Washington state now has more than 750 wineries and 350 wine grape growers. At Bridge Press Cellars, the Padrtas have expanded from reds made exclusively from Walla Walla Valley grapes into new terroir, including the rehabilitation of an old building near the corner of Pacific and Browne into a winemaking and tasting room they share with partners Mark and Valerie Wilkerson of Emvy Cellars.
Grande Ronde Cellars began as a partnership between four men with the same love – for grapes from the Walla Walla valley. Dave Westfall, David Page, John Mueller and Michael Manz launched the winery in 1997 with grapes from the same vineyards that were supplying fruit to acclaimed wineries such as Leonetti Cellars and L’Ecole No. 41.
Serendipity and a grape delivery helped launch Barili Cellars, and that same combination is helping usher the boutique Spokane winery into its fifth year. Marlene and Russ Feist opened the winery with Steve and Dana Trabun in 2008. They had met a few years before, when a Prosser vineyard owner asked if they could deliver some grapes to another home winemaker in Spokane.
Cody George didn’t set out to make wines that spent five years in oak barrels, but at Vintage Hill Cellars that is what has happened. The self-taught winemaker said the patience to let the red wines linger as long as necessary was always part of the vision for the winery. It was also part of the business plan he developed for Vintage Hill as part of his final project for a master’s degree in business before launching the winery almost seven years ago.
Emvy Cellars was born under the wing of Grande Ronde Cellars and alongside Bridge Press Cellars. Valerie and Mark Wilkerson started their small winery in 2002 with help from winemakers Dave Westfall and John Mueller at Grande Ronde. At the same time, their good friends Brian and Melody Padrta also worked with the winemakers to launch Bridge Press Cellars.
For 20 years, it has been possible to ring in the New Year with sparkling wines made in the shadow of Mount Spokane. Mountain Dome Winery was started in 1984 by Michael and Patricia Manz, and they sold their first wines in 1992. The family, with the help of their two sons and daughter, brought the traditional French method of making sparkling wines to the area and built a reputation for their delicate bubbly. The wines won a loyal following, especially the non-vintage brut with a quirky gnome label, depicting the family members who combined efforts on the wines.
John Caudill and Jerry Gibson connected over fine wines, so it seems right that they’re now making them together. The self-taught winemakers are the cabernet drinkers behind the wines at Overbluff Cellars. A chance meeting brought the two California natives together, but it was their love of the bold wines of the Napa Valley that sparked their interest in Washington winemaking. The men wanted to use the state’s fruit to replicate their favorite style of wine.
One of Washington’s great family wineries isn’t in Washington at all. For a decade, the Gates family has been hauling Washington grapes across the state line to make award-winning wines in Coeur d’Alene. Kimber Gates, who owns the winery with her parents, Sarah and Charlie Gates, said they’ve been humbled by the local support. At 10, Gates said they feel like the winery is starting to thrive thanks to that enthusiasm.
Twenty years ago, Walter and Judy Haig were entertaining friends on the deck of their Lake Roosevelt summer home when the conversation turned to the history of their 1,000-acre property. The previous owners had passed along the original homesteader’s scrapbook, which included an old U.S. Department of Agriculture map identifying what crops were planted in the area at the turn of the previous century. To everyone’s surprise, wine grapes were highlighted on the land where they sat.
As a pharmacist, Debbie Hansen’s job was straightforward: Provide the right pill in the right dose to the right patient at the right time. Winemaking is different.