Vineyards: 12 acres Gamay Beaujolais, Pinot Noir, Gewurtztraminer
(Jun-96) Mont Elise Winery is for sale! (Note the ad has been pulled -- Jun-99).
I gather the original Henderson vineyard of 300 acres is also for sale, though is being sold independently of the winery [22-Mar-1999].
The history of Mont Elise Vineyards begins in the 1880's when the Jewitt family planted American vines they'd brought from Illinois. A few years later, the Meress family sailed around Cape Horn to Portland Oregon, then moved to White Salmon, bringing Vinifera vines with them. These two got together and established the vineyards now owned by the Henderson's.
In 1961, Chuck Henderson of Wisconsin, moved to White Salmon and in 1966 planted test plots and closely monitored the older Jewitt and Meress plantings in conjunction with Dr. Clore of the Agriculture Research and Extension Center at Prosser. The town of Bingen (pronuonced BIN-jen) was named after Bingen-on-the-Rhine in Germany due to it's view down the Columbia Gorge.
As a side note, In the early part of the century, the NW financier Sam Hill intended to build an estate winery in White Salmon, but the local Prohibitionists refused to sell him the land, so he moved his focus up the river to the town of Maryhill. The Maryhill Museum of Fine Art and remnants of the winery were still there in 1976. He also built the Stonehenge replica which is another interesting tourist attraction.
The winery itself was started in 1975 under the name of Bingen Wine Cellars. It is the third oldest existing winery in the state, and is the oldest family-owned winery. They specialize in making wines from grapes that are locally grown in the Columbia Gorge, typically Germanic-style, cool climate varietals. In 1986 they changed the name of the winery to Mont Elise (named after Henderson's daughter), which was already the name of their vineyard.
The winery is in an historic building that dates from the late 1800's in downtown Bingen. In July of 1996, the Hendersons went into partnership with three other people to start an additional venture, a brewpub, in the winery building.
I gather that Chuck Sr. underwent bypass surgery in Summer 1998. Hopefully all is well. The winery was apparently closed about this time.