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Townshend bubbly over latest buy

Mountain Dome winery has a new owner.

Don’t worry. He’s keeping the gnomes who built the family winery hard at work.

“I can’t say no for some reason,” says Don Townshend, with a laugh. He bought the winery from owner Patricia Manz this month. Townshend is the founder of Townshend Cellars on Green Bluff and has purchased two other Spokane wineries in the past few years, Caterina and Lone Canary.

“Mountain Dome has always put the bubbles in my huckleberry sparkling wine. So, I’ve been really good friends with Mountain Dome and the Manz family for many years,” he says.

Mountain Dome, which produces sparkling wines in the foothills of Mount Spokane, was the shared dream of Michael and Patricia Manz. It was 1984 when they first pressed pinot noir and chardonnay grapes in a converted apple press in the kitchen of their geodesic dome house.

The labels of some of Mountain Dome’s sparkling wines feature a whimsical drawing of gnomes who look a lot like the winery’s founding family.

However, since Michael Manz passed away in 2006, it has been a struggle to stay profitable, Patricia Manz says. “When things would come up short, we always had Michael’s income as a physician to fall back on. When he was gone, the money was gone, too,” she says.

Michael Manz was the associate medical director and attending psychiatrist for Sacred Heart Medical Center’s psychiatric center when he died at age 58. Letting go of the winery was difficult, Patricia Manz says. In addition to the winemaking operation, she also sold her home and land to Townshend. “I’m really glad somebody local wants to take it on. That eases the pain a little bit,” she says.

Their son, Erik Manz, will continue to work as winemaker for Mountain Dome. Fans of the sparkling wines will notice little difference; the bubbly made under the Manz ownership will be sold for the next two years. Townshend and Manz plan to boost production starting this year to help improve the financial picture for Mountain Dome.

“It was hard to let it go, but rather than seeing it crumble, I feel so good now to be able to keep going,” Erik Manz says.

Townshend will move some of his winemaking equipment to the Mountain Dome facility and is excited about the potential for the property.

Three other Spokane wineries are affected by the Mountain Dome sale. Winemakers from Grande Ronde, BridgePress and Emvy Cellars, who previously shared equipment at Mountain Dome, will be looking for new winemaking facilities. Michael Manz was one of the founding partners of Grande Ronde, which had a cooperative arrangement with the two new boutique wineries.

Reach Mountain Dome winery at (509) 927-2788.