Lopez Island Vineyards a model for cool-climate grapes, simple living

By on June 26, 2014
Brent Charnley of Lopez Island Vineyards & Winery, who graduated from University of California-Davis more then 30 years ago, pours his organically grown Madeleine Angevine and other wines on Lopez Island and the Ballard Farmers Market. (Photo by Eric Degerman/Great Northwest Wine)

Brent Charnley, who graduated from University of California-Davis more than 30 years ago, pours his organically grown Madeleine Angevine and other wines on Lopez Island and the Ballard Farmers Market. (Photo by Eric Degerman/Great Northwest Wine)

LOPEZ ISLAND, Wash. – This part of the San Juan Archipelago has been home to Brent Charnley for as long as he can remember, as his parents spent many years during his youth on Lopez Island.

So after graduating from Western Washington University, falling in love with wine in Europe and learning about winemaking and viticulture at the University of California-Davis, Charnley came back home to Lopez Island and began building his dream of growing cool-climate grape varieties appropriate to the Puget Sound region.

Here’s our interview with Charnley:

Lopez Island Vineyards champions cool-climate grapes

Washington wine

Since opening Lopez Island Vineyards & Winery with the help of 70 friends and investors, Charnley has championed both organic farming practices and two really cool cool-climate varieties: Madeleine Angevine and Siegerrebe. The first is a white grape most often associated with France’s Loire Valley, while the second is a German variety that was created in 1929 as a cross of Madeleine Angevine and Gewürztraminer.

Lopez Island Vineyards & Winery is one of the few places where both grapes excel, and Charnley loves growing, crafting and promoting the varieties.

He believes Madeleine Angevine is a perfect wine to pair with oysters, and he is definitely on to something, as the crisp, bright white wine is not dissimilar to the more famous Sauvignon Blanc (also from the Loire Valley). Meanwhile, Siegerrebe is a more rich, aromatic and delicate wine with a hint of sweetness. This makes it delicious with Asian cuisine, particularly somewhat spicy Thai dishes.

Both wines have performed beautifully in blind judgings, with Charnley’s latest edition of Madeleine Angevine earning Great Northwest Wine’s top “Outstanding!” rating and his Siegerrebe winning a unanimous Double Platinum award in last fall’s “best of the best in the Great Northwest” competition put on by Wine Press Northwest magazine.

Charnley’s wines are available on Lopez Island, as well as at the Ballard Farmers Market and at various retail outlets in the greater Seattle area.

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Read more about Lopez Island Vineyards & Winery.

About Andy Perdue

Andy Perdue is the editor and publisher of Great Northwest Wine. He is a third-generation journalist who has worked at newspapers since the mid-1980s and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest magazine with Eric Degerman and served as its editor-in-chief for 15 years. He is a frequent judge at international wine competitions. He is the author of "The Northwest Wine Guide: A Buyer's Handbook" (Sasquatch, 2003) and has contributed to four other books. He writes about wine for The Seattle Times. You can find him on Twitter and .

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