Photo courtesy of Quinn Poer/Yamhill Valley Vineyards
The Big Three-O: Northwest Wines Celebrate a Milestone
by Margo Greenman

The Northwest is a leading locale when it comes to the wine industry and has been for many years. But way back, when the Northwest was just starting to etch its way onto the map as a viticultural goldmine, there were a few forerunners who paved the way and set the example for younger wineries to follow. Celebrating 30 years, several Washington and Oregon wineries are toasting to three decades of hard work, success and of course, great wine.

Founded in 1983, Gordon Estate is a prime example of how something small can flourish in a big way. Originally Gordon Brothers Cellars Inc., Gordon Estate is the oldest estate-winery in Washington. Using only the best estate-grown grapes, Gordon Estate prides itself in their 30-year commitment to outstanding, handcrafted wines. So how are they celebrating? Earlier this year, Gordon Estate opened the doors to their new wine bar in Pasco. A relaxing place to savor a full menu of gourmet foods, taste from a selection of  exquisite wines and enjoy the sights and sounds of live entertainment, the Gordon Estate Wine Bar is only one of the many accomplishments this celebrated Northwest winery has achieved in their now 30 years of service.

In nearby Richland, Barnard Griffin is also living up their 30’s in the heart of Washington wine country. With a new winery tasting room, along with a wine bar and eatery, Barnard Griffin helped to put Washington on the map at many grocery stores for the retail customer to come face to face with wine from the state. BG is also the only winery in the world with a glass arts studio on the premises, featuring remarkable fused glass art in their gallery created by winery co-owner and glass artisan Deborah Barnard.

Another Washington winery celebrating the big 3-0 is L’Ecole Nº 41. With much to be proud of, including being named “Winery of the Year” 11 consecutive years in a row by Wine & Spirits Magazine, celebrating excellence comes natural for this Washington winery. Founded by Jean and Baker Ferguson, L’Ecole is proud of how far they’ve come and they recognize that their accomplishments would have been unachievable without the tremendous contributions made by all the hands involved in the growth of this now seasoned winery. From their dedicated staff, growers and winemakers, to their experienced distributors, respected retailers and loyal customers, L’Ecole is proud to celebrate 30 years of success and 30 years of friends and family.

Also celebrating is Chinook Wines. The lovechild of winemaker Kay Simon and viticulturalist Clay Mackey, Chinook Wines is the product of what happens when you mix skilled craftsmanship with a commitment to excellence. Back in 1983 when Chinook Wines was born, Kay Simon was a rare breed. Women winemakers were not as common as they are today, and 30 years later she is still at it. Chinook Wines may be celebrating 30 years in the industry, but they’re also celebrating a community of contemporary women winemakers and their influence in this growing field.

Head south to Oregon and the celebration continues. Kramer Vineyards, one of Oregon’s earliest wineries, has seen a lot throughout the years, including the introduction of their new branding in 2012, and the opening of a new tasting room in downtown Carlton earlier this summer. If that’s not a way to celebrate 30 years, I’m not sure what is.

The town of McMinville is also home to another Oregon wine legend, Yamhill Valley Vineyards. Celebrating 30 years, Yahmill Valley Vineyards is the oldest winery in the valley. With more than 100 acres of vineyards and a commitment to producing outstanding Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Riesling, Yahmill Valley Vineyards emphasizes character over everything else. With all the growing, producing and bottling done on site, Yamhill Valley produces exquisite wines for a great value, and has been doing so for the past 30 years.

Looking back on three decades can be a reflective time for anyone. Whether it’s the 30th anniversary of your wedding or birth, 30 years is something to celebrate. For Northwest wineries, lets continue the celebration and raise our glasses to 30 more years!

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