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Viticulturist: Gerard Bentryn
Production: (1987) 1,500 cases, (1996) 2000+ cases
Vineyards: 7 acres (estate)
Distribution: Wines sold only at the winery and select restaurants.
Gerard recalls of his two years in Germany while in the military "The milk was poor, and the wine was great". With the knowledge gleaned in Europe and his degree in geology, Gerard became a pioneer in Western WA, planting his first 1.5 acres of grapes in 1977. Although a few of the wineries first releases were made from purchased grapes from Eastern Washington in addition to their own estate grown grapes, the wines are now now proudly estate produced from only their own 7 acres.
Due to Western Washington's cool climate grape growing conditions, not all Vinifera varieties do well in this region. (For many years they had one row of Chardonnay, which would never quite ripen; this row is now a lovely grass strip in the middle of the vineyard, see photos.) However this doesn't limit the Bentryns; they produce wines from: Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Muller-Thurgau, Madeleine Angevine, Siegerrebe, and Madeleine Sylvaner. They also produce a small amount of strawberry and raspberry dessert wines (which sell out immediately every year).
Gerard is an avid believer in the importance of local produce. He says "the food you eat, the wine you drink, is the landscape you create". He is an outspoken proponent of small family agricultural businesses, and is extremely active in the local community; lobbying to maintain small farms and setting aside land specifically for agriculture.
He uses strictly ecologically sound vineyard practices, no irrigation, and no herbicides or pesticides. Most of the wines are minimally sulphited, only at bottling. (The Pinot Noir is sulphited slightly higher, though still lower than typical.)
In addition to the small vineyard at the winery (three acres, one planted in grapes), they also have another 7 acres in grapes about 3 miles North on Day Road. Between these two properties, the family is kept pretty busy! Beyond the Bentryn family (Gerard, wife JoAnn and son Ian), the winery has one employee, Betsey Wittick, who shares in most all winery tasks from vine pruning, picking, bottling, winemaking, tasting room, you name it -- everybody has to do a little of almost everything. Betsey also grows special variety potatoes and onions which she sells at local farmers markets.
In 2003, The Bentryns sold the property near the ferry dock. They have built a new winery on their main vineyard property at Day Road, just about 4 miles up the highway. This sports a lovely view of the Olympic Mountains, trees and a horse pasture.
(See also the West Sound Farms page: http://www.westsoundfarms.com/bainbridgewinery.html.)
The Wines: Current releases (Spring 1997)
Gerard Bentryn 1981-present
Of special note:
Gerard says: "Locally grown, family owned. We like to think we provide the personal contact that you don't get with the larger wineries. You get to talk to someone involved with growing the wine."
At the winery shop, in addition to the fine wines, you'll also find wine accessories, and wine related antiques.
The most special visit you'll have at any WA state winery is Gerard's vineyard tour. Each Sunday at 2pm. This alone is worth the ferry ride from Seattle, let alone the opportunity to buy their high quality locally produced wines.
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