Gordon Estate pauses harvest for annual blessing

By on September 19, 2015
Gordon Estate conducts a harvest blessing ceremony each fall.

Father Charlie Gordon of Portland conducts a harvest blessing ceremony at Gordon Estate near Pasco, Wash. The event takes place each year. (Photo courtesy of Gordon Estate)

PASCO, Wash. – For the past 15 years, the crew at Gordon Estate has paused early in harvest to reflect and give thanks for the bounty that has been provided.

This week, the winery on a bluff above the Snake River near this Franklin County city took time out for its annual blessing ceremony.

“We’re around all year long working hard,” said Jeff Gordon, owner of Gordon Estate. “It’s good to stop and get this blessing. It’s a thank-you to the folks who do all the work all year long.”

Often, a priest from the Gordons’ church in Pasco conducts the ceremony. The past couple of years, Father Charlie Gordon – no relation to Jeff and Vicki Gordon – has traveled from Portland to participate.

“He calls us his namesake vineyard and winery,” Gordon told Great Northwest Wine. “He’s our celebrity priest.”

Gordon said he tries to hold the ceremony as close to the beginning of harvest as possible, but this year’s early start made that difficult. Gordon began bringing in Chardonnay on Aug. 20, three weeks earlier than is typical.

“When we had Sauvignon Blanc, the earliest we ever started was Sept. 4,” he said, shaking his head.

This year, Gordon Estate held its blessing ceremony Monday. It was followed by lunch.

Gordon Estate’s long wine  history

Gordon Estate Vineyard near the Snake River produced the 2013 Syrah,, chosen as the best U.S. Syrah at the 2015 Decanter World Wine Awards in London.

Gordon Estate’s vineyard sits above the Snake River near Pasco, Wash. It has been in operation since the early 1980s. (Photo by Gordon Estate)

Gordon and his brother Bill began planting the 110-acre vineyard in 1980, back when Washington had fewer than two-dozen wineries and perhaps 5,000 acres of vineyards.

In 1983, they crushed their first fruit, and they released their first wines in 1985. In 1998, Bill Gordon retired and the winery ultimately changed names from Gordon Brothers to Gordon Estate.

Starting last year, Tyler Tennyson took over winemaking duties at Gordon Estate. Tennyson, a product of Walla Walla Community College’s viticulture and enology program. He went on to work at Dusted Valley Vintners and Seven Hills Winery.

The winery now produces up to 25,000 cases per year, using nearly every bit of fruit it grows.

“We do sell a little fruit,” Gordon said. “We’ve pretty much taken it all for the past 10 years.”

In addition to its primary label, Gordon also produces a value line of wines called Kamiak. This summer, it put out a special bottling called Roostertail, which paid tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Tri-City Water Follies and the unlimited hydroplane races it brings to the community each July.

“We didn’t do a lot, but it was fun,” Gordon said. “It really got some buzz. A lot of people came in to buy it because of the Water Follies.”

Gordon Estate also has a restaurant and wine bar at Broadmoor Mall in west Pasco. Gordon said it is doing well, helped along by its location near Interstate 182 in one of the fastest-growing neighborhoods in the Tri-Cities.

“The food is really good,” he said. “We have a chef who’s doing a great job.”

About Andy Perdue

Andy Perdue is founding partner of Great Northwest Wine LLC and a longtime wine columnist. 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 the author of "The Northwest Wine Guide: A Buyer's Handbook" (Sasquatch, 2003) and has contributed to four other books.

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