Southwest Washington and Vancouver USA, home to the first wine grape vines in the Pacific Northwest, will be the setting for the inaugural Savor SW WA Wine on Saturday, May 11 near the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.
Destiny Brink, co-owner of Pomeroy Cellars in the Vancouver suburb of Yacolt, is a member of the Southwest Washington Winery Association and coordinating the event on behalf of the group. There are nearly 20 wineries in Clark County, and the population of Vancouver alone stands at 175,000. When combined with Portland, Ore., this region represents the 23rd largest market in the U.S.
“The purpose of the event is to gain exposure for the growing number of boutique wineries in Southwest Washington, in addition to the growing number of restaurants serving high-end, locally grown food,” Brink stated in a news release. We desire to increase awareness of our local offerings to drive tourism to our area, but also to educate our local community about what is here in their own ‘backyard.’ “
More than dozen wineries plan to pour
This list of wineries pouring at Savor SW WA Wine includes Burnt Bridge Cellars, Confluence Vineyards and Winery, Dolio Winery, Emanar Cellars, English Estate Winery, Heathen Estate, Heisen House Vineyards, Moulton Falls Winery & Cider House, Olequa Cellars, Pomeroy Cellars, Rezabek Vineyard & Daybreak Cellars, Stavalaura Vineyard and Windy Hills Winery. Wineries in nearby Cowlitz and Lewis counties also are being recruited to participate.
Ticket sales begin March 11, and the price is $75, which includes food, wine, coffee and other offerings during four-hour event that begins at 2 p.m. Six Vancouver-area chefs and more than a dozen regional wineries will be a part of the collaboration. There is an early-bird discount through April 10. A same-day ticket is $85, and total attendance will be capped at 350.
“We want to create a customer experience to surpass those of the traditional festival and to focus on sampling the wares of local purveyors, and not on tokens,” Brink said.
“We are taking some plays directly from the Taste Washington playbook and, albeit on a much smaller scale, attempting to replicate the quality and customer experience present at the renowned Taste Washington event,” she added.
Award-winning wines flow into Vancouver USA
Vancouver and Clark County continue to grow as bedroom communities for Portland, and the $1.5 billion Vancouver USA Waterfront Development landed award-winning Maryhill Winery as a tenant. Winery owners Craig and Vicki Leuthold are scheduled to open their tasting room overlooking Grant Street Pier on April 13, and the Columbia Gorge destination based in Goldendale, Wash., recently signed up for SWWA membership.
“Maryhill will most certainly be an asset to our association,” Brink said.
There are a dozen members of the alliance formed in 2014, and a number of them pitched in to work the SWWA booth last year at the Clark County Fair. Other wine events in the region’s recent history include the Craft Wine Fest in Vancouver and a wine and chocolate tasting in Ridgefield. Their new Savor seems to be poised for success because of the growing farm-to-fork movement, buying local, increased access to better fruit, improved farming methods, a string of warm vintages and talented winemaking.
Last year, Burnt Bridge Cellars used a 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon with Walla Walla Valley grapes to win the award for top red wine at the Great Northwest Wine Invitational Wine Competition, a judging panel that includes many of the Pacific Northwest’s most influential wine buyers. Burnt Bridge winemaker Ben Stuart graduated in the spring of 2015 from Walla Walla Community College’s acclaimed Institute of Enology of Viticulture.
“We have an ever-expanding membership, and the press is beginning to notice,” Brink said. ” The wine industry is a leading economic contributor in the United States and with the growing number of wineries and tasting rooms coming to Southwest Washington we may turn this area into another of Washington state’s wine destinations.
“The first step is awareness and providing a competitive alternative to tourist destinations such as Hood River, Ore., or Woodinville, Wash.,” she added.