Walla Walla Winery No. 500 in State
Walla Walla Union-Bulletin April 2007
by Vicki Hillhouse of the Union-Bulletin
Sweet Valley's liquor license approval made it the 500th.
Owners of Sweet Valley Wines thought the creation of Walla Walla's newest winery was cause enough for celebration.
Turns out the state wine industry has another reason to raise a glass to the business.
Approval of the winery's liquor license this week makes Sweet Valley the 500th winery in Washington, officials with the Washington Wine Commission announced Wednesday.
``We think it's exciting, and certainly it is another major milestone for the Washington wine industry,'' said Robin Pollard, executive director of the Washington Wine Commission.
Pollard said the state has seen a boom in wineries. Since 2000, the number has more than tripled, from 155 to 500.
``You can find wineries in literally every corner of the state,'' she said.
Officials with the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance estimate that more than 90 of those can be found in this area.
Nevertheless, becoming the 500th winery in the state certainly wasn't intentional, said owner David McDaniels.
``I had no clue,'' he said.
Nevertheless, the occasion may be used in marketing the winery.
McDaniels and his wife, Karen, who also own Fort Knox Pawn Shop, started the winery with local residents Rory and Laura Schilling and Kevin DeFord of Camas, Wash. McDaniels' son, Josh, a student of Walla Walla Community College's enology and viticulture program, is slated to be winemaker.
The business, which has not yet opened, is expected to share a tasting room with Mannina Cellars at 7 W. Poplar St.
McDaniels said he has also bought the building at 1003 W. Rose St., home to Crystal Clear Ice. He plans to use a portion of the building - about 6,000 square feet - for Sweet Valley Wines' production space. The boutique winery will produce an initial 300 cases. McDaniels hopes to have some available for tasting during Spring Release weekend.
He said Wednesday that though the Washington State Liquor Control Board had approved the liquor license, he had not yet received it.
The approval was highly anticipated by the state Wine Commission, which had requested notification from the liquor control board. Pollard said the wine commission got the call about the 500th winery last Friday.
Pollard said much potential exists for continued growth in Washington's wine industry. While 150 new wineries have been licensed in the two years since Pollard joined the wine commission and Washington has tightly held its position as the second-largest wine producer in the country, California's wine industry is still much larger. Comparatively, 500 new wineries were established in California in 2006 alone, Pollard said.
How many wineries can be sustained in Washington has yet to be determined, she said.
``As long as Washington wines are enjoying the kind of accolades and support their getting from the trade, critics and public, I think there's a very bright future for the industry.''
WASHINGTON WINE HISTORY
1950s: Chateau Ste. Michelle, founded in 1934, begins to plant classic vinifera grapes in the Columbia Valley.
1960s: The first commercial-scale plantings and modern winemaking begins.
1962: Columbia Winery is founded by 10 friends, initially as Associated Vintners.
1967: Chateau Ste. Michelle makes its first varietal wines using the Ste. Michelle label.
1969: Longtime Washington viticultural researcher Walter Clore lobbies the state Legislature to overturn laws that protected table grapes (used for juice and jelly) and acted as a disincentive to the development of varietal grapes (Vitis vinifera).
1970s: Rapid vineyard expansion takes place, with riesling as the choice grape.
1974: Washington Wine Institute, now part of the Washington Wine Center, is created to provide a unified voice in legislative issues affecting the wine industry.
1977: Leonetti Cellar is bonded.
1978: Quilceda Creek, one of five wineries in the world to earn perfect 100 Wine Advocate scores in two consecutive years, is bonded and produces its first commercial wine one year later.
1980s: Vineyard expansion continues briskly with merlot as primary grape planted.
1983: State's first American Viticultural Area, Yakima Valley, is established.
1984: Walla Walla Valley receives AVA designation, followed closely by the Columbia Valley.
1985: Puget Sound receives its AVA designation.
1987: Washington Wine Commission is formed to promote and develop the Washington wine industry.
1990: Washington Wine Coalition is formed in a partnership with Oregon, Washington and Idaho to promote wine exports.
1997: Washington State Liquor Control Board issues a bond for the 100th winery in the state.
2001: Wine Enthusiast magazine honors Washington State as Wine Region of the Year. Washington's smallest AVA, Red Mountain, is established.
2004: Columbia Gorge, which straddles the state line, receives its AVA designation.
2005: Horse Heaven Hills, formerly part of the Yakima Valley, receives its AVA.
2006: Wahluke Slope and Rattlesnake Hills become the eighth and ninth Washington State AVAs.
2007: The 500th Washington winery is licensed and bonded.
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