220 Jewett Blvd, PO Box 218, White Salmon, WA 98672 | 509.493.2112
Local wineries toast firefighters with special promotion
Through the end of the year
VINEYARD WITH A VIEW — Grape vines lay naked and prepare for winter on this beautiful south-facing slope of Atavus Vineyards, located on Wnuk Road in White Salmon. The vineyard, which is leased by Analemma Wines owner Steven Thompson, is part of a 300-acre farm owned by Kristie Gensler that was affected by the late summer wildfires this year. The Columbia Gorge Winemakers Association is currently offering a promotion to firefighters to thank them for all their efforts this year.
December 11, 2012
By BEN MITCHELLThe Columbia River Gorge has had a good year for growing wine grapes, but it's come at the expense of firefighters. The same warm, dry, sunny summer days that stretched into autumn and produced a bumper crop of grapes also produced a bumper crop of wildfires in and around the Gorge. The fires torched tens of thousands of acres and required several hundred firefighters to put them out.
Members of the Columbia Gorge Winegrowers Association decided this wasn't quite fair that they got to reap all the rewards from the growing season and have come up with a promotion that raises a glass to firefighters for all their hard work.
From now until the end of the year, firefighters and volunteer firefighters can enjoy free wine tasting from any CGWA winery -- provided the firefighter is age 21 or older.
Talia Hammond, marketing coordinator for the CGWA, said that most wineries offer tastings of five to 15 wines, which means a lot of free wine for firefighters.
"Most tasting rooms have a fee to try their wines," she noted, "and there are 33 wineries in our association, so this is potentially a lot of savings to any thirsty firefighters."
Hammond said the idea for the promotion came about during a brainstorming session at a monthly meeting of the CGWA.
"I can't remember exactly who, if it was just one person, offered up the suggestion, but it doesn't really matter as this association is a collaborative effort," she said. "The idea was sent out to all of our wineries in our association and was received with a very excited, 'Yes, let's do this!'"
Some vintners have more to be thanking firefighters for than others. Steven Thompson, a Mosier resident who leases a vineyard at the end of Wnuk Road in White Salmon, said the Highway 141 fire in September came very close to burning up his business.
"Approximately 20 to 40 acres of the property burned and the fire came within 200 yards of the vineyard," Thompson said. "Fortunately, none of the vines were burned nor damaged by the fire."
However, a fire farther away proved to be an even greater threat to the grapes. As the Hwy. 141 was being brought under control, the Cascade Creek fire on the southern slope of Mt. Adams generated massive amounts of smoke, choking the Gorge for weeks. That smoke also came close to ruining Thompson's grapes, which he produces for his Analemma Wines label.
"During the initial pressings from the grapes, there was evidence of smoke taint, but now as the ferments are done, that evidence has dissipated," Thompson explained.
The harvest has been all hauled in, but it will take some time before the wines are aged to perfection. Hammond said that for the most part, wines from the 2012 vintage won't be ready for consumption until 2015.
For a list of participating wineries and a map of their tasting room locations, go to the CGWA Web site at www.GorgeWine.com.