Perennial Vintners
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• Our sister site:
   MelonDeBourgogne.com
• Another sister site:
   Isletage.com
 
Until Spring 2004 Perennial Vintners had been a hobby project of Mike Lempriere, now ex-wife Beth Schoenberg, and friends.

Our first winemaking attempt was the vintage year 1997, 20+ gallons of Cabernet Sauvignon (grapes from Tefft Cellars in Sunnyside), made with rented equipment. It was done in the backyard and basement of our home near Green Lake in Seattle, so we named the wine Chateau Lempriere (from French "the house of Lempriere").

We had so much fun doing this, and were so successful (the wine was wonderful, and in fact won several awards at the Puyallup Fair over the next few years) that our friends George & Lynn became very involved in our hobby project.

We began buying equipment (mostly used from small-but-growing commercial wineries), and moved operations to a shed at George & Lynn's home in Woodinville. The name Chateau Lempriere no longer seemed appropriate, so we came up with the new name, Perennial Vintners. Mike knew that as a winery he wanted to be a "something-or-other Vintners", and the Perennial part came from Beth & Mikes shared love of gardening with perennial plants. Mike also came up with the black & white, spare look on the label and using botanical prints.

In 1998 through 2002, about 200 gallons per year were made. (This is the maximum one can make without becoming a bonded winery by Federal law.) We continued to make wines from grapes brought over from Eastern Washington throughout this time. We made Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, then barrel blended them for a Bordeaux-style red, though with a light touch. We also made some Syrahs, Gewurztraminer, Orange Muscat, even a Zinfandel!

We knew that the most essential part of the winemaking dream was to be growing our own grapes, but our family would not be able to afford to quit the "day gigs" while establishing the winery. We seriously considered buying a vineyard in Walla Walla (known as "Stellar Vineyard"), but decided not to, as paying someone else to maintain our remote vineyard that we'd seldom even see was not really the dream.

In 1999, we made our first cool-climate wine from grapes purchased from Bainbridge Island Vineyard and Winery. We made a Müller Thurgau, and fell immediately in love with the delicate nuances of this white wine. This changed our whole outlook on winemaking in two important ways: it brought Beth and I to realize how much we both appreciated delicate cool-climate wines, and that by making wine from Puget Sound AVA grapes, we would be able to grow them at our own home, and continue with the "day gigs" in Seattle. Mike joined the Puget Sound WineGrowers Association about this time. Thereafter, we continued to make all the Puget Sound AVA wines we possibly could, though this was difficult as there is so little acrage that there are very few grapes to purchase; we also made a dry Siegerrebe, and a Madeleine Angevine.

In Fall 2003, the Lempriere family moved to a 3+ acre parcel on Bainbridge Island, where we are planting our own grapes. The property is surrounded on 3 sides by city-owned property that cannot be developed except for agricultural use (totalling almost 20 acres). We are actively involved in the Trust For Working Landscapes (the group charged with stewardship of these properties) in hopes of utilizing some portion of these properties for grape growing.

However, most importantly, one of these agricultural properties adjoins the Suyamatsu and Bentryn farms. The Bentryn family has been growing grapes and making wine at their Bainbridge Island Vineyards and Winery (BIVW) for more than 20 years, and they are as excited about having a winegrower neighbor as we are to be that neighbor! We've been working with the Bentryns and are leasing some of their grapes, initially to begin production before our own vineyard has matured sufficiently to come into production.

Our history is also all wrapped up with the Suyematsu Farm next door. Please visit our Suyematsu Farm webpage which talks about the neighboring farm and it's history, which incldudes the Japanese Internment in WWII (way too long a story to include here).

The latest step in our winemaking career, is that we have established Perennial Vintners as a business, and have started the paperwork process to become a winery. At this writing there's an Application for Liquour License stuck to the basement window -- the first step in establishing a winery.

Perennial Vintners has had one "public" showing at the Enological Society meeting, October 2002. This meeting focused on the Puget Sound AVA, and included two hobbyist wineries, Perennial Vintners and Hollywood Hill Vineyards. (Both of whom are now commercial micro-wineries as of Summer 2005).

For more recent information. please visit our News page.
Mike Lempriere
09-Jul-2004

UPDATE 01-Jul-2010
In the 6 years (almost exactly -- pure coincidence) since this page was written, we have made tremendous changes.

We have been selling wine commercially since 2006 (the vintage 2005 Müller Thurgau, grapes leased from BIVW). We added Madeliene Angevine to the lineup in 2008 (2007 vintage, again grapes leased from BIVW). In 2008 we added strawberry and raspberry fortified dessert wines (locally purchased fruit), and in 2009, finally released the first Melon de Bourgogne in WA State (from our own vineyard). We have an additional planting of Melon de Bourgogne, and a planting of Siegerrebe producing first harvest next year.

Our products can be found at several wine shops and restaurants on Bainbridge Island, and in the Seattle area.

There is also bad news though, namely that Beth has lost the dream of being part of a vineyard and winery -- the divorce will be final as of July-2010. Beths taking on of the horrendous paperwork of being a winery, and her unflinching help in so many other ways is truly missed, along with her wonderful presence when presenting PV wines.

We've made it!


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