At its November membership meeting in Lyle, the Columbia Gorge Winegrowers honored Mark Wharry for his tireless work in completing the application to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau for the Columbia Gorge American Viticulture Area (AVA).
The work for approval of the AVA had been in the works for years. In a combination of good timing and hard work, Wharry, who grows grapes on Underwood Mountain, was a key player in the final approval of one of the Northwest's newest designated winegrape growing regions.
"It was very flattering to receive the award from the group at the last meeting. I was privileged to be able to help pull the AVA application effort together, but it was really the result of a lot of work over many years on the part of a number of the original area vintners including Chuck Henderson and Rick Ensminger. The Columbia Gorge region is blessed with a wide variety of excellent grape growing microclimates and we are still discovering the level of wine quality that the region is truly capable of producing. I believe that it will very quickly become an area widely known for excellent wine," said Wharry who owns Swift Water Vineyard on Underwood Mountain.
Speaking on behalf of all the Winegrowers, Rick Ensminger told Wharry, "We're thankful that you took the bull by the horns-patiently and diligently pushing the application through the bureaucracy. You did an excellent job with excellent hours to put all the required paperwork and research together. We are very grateful for your work."
The Columbia Gorge Winegrowers Association is a three-year-old nonprofit group of local wineries and grapegrowers. In July, 2004, the Columbia Gorge became a federally-recognized winegrape-growing region, increasing the recognition of the wines produced in this area. Together, the 40 members of the association promote the grapes and wines of the Columbia Gorge.