Side Porch P1020037 Cowiche Canyon Walking Path

Seattle Times, 11/2009


Wilridge Vineyard/The Tasting Room Yakima
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Like many veteran winemakers, the aptly named Paul Beveridge grew tired of getting his grapes from others and decided it was time to plant his own.

The environmental and winery lawyer by day co-owns and makes the wine at Wilridge Winery in Seattle. He also helped develop The Tasting Room: Wines of Washington and is president of the Family Winemakers of Washington State.

Beveridge always figured he'd end up planting somewhere from Yakima to Walla Walla. But it was love at first "site" once he discovered the Naches Heights region near downtown Yakima. How great he could cross the mountains in the morning and be back home with his family by night.

Beveridge felt good about the region's potential, thanks to the pioneering efforts of Philip Cline. In 2002, Cline had planted grapes on family property where orchards once flourished. Although neighbors referred to Naches Heights Vineyard as "Phil's Folly," he has since produced award-winning pinot gris, riesling and syrah. This year, Cline's 2008 pinot gris won the Governor's Award for best white wine in the Washington State Wine Competition.

In 2007, Beveridge settled on a 20-acre site with sweeping views over Cowiche Canyon. "The geology here is that you are standing on a 1 million-year-old lava flow from near Mount Rainier," he says. "There's lots of andacite boulders and cliff faces — great for rock climbing."

Beveridge decided he would create the state's first "recreational winery," the sort of place where "a case of wine meets Patagonia."

Today a half-mile feeder trail connects The Tasting Room Yakima to the William O. Douglas Trail — nirvana for hikers and bikers — that runs from downtown Yakima to Mount Rainier and the Pacific Crest Trail. A quaint 1904 farmhouse serves as the winery's tasting room. Beveridge offers free wine shipping if you arrive on foot or bike. Camping sites are also free.

Early on, Beveridge committed to certified biodynamic farming practices on The Tasting Room Yakima's Wilridge Vineyard. The biodynamic farm aims to be eco-conscious by avoiding chemicals and using the farm's own materials (compost and such) to sustain itself.

"I went biodynamic totally due to taste, and so my sons could safely play in the vineyard," he says as he leads the way into a dimly lit underground laboratory — the farm's former root cellar. Here he mixes ingredients such as camomile, valerian bark and hoptail into organic teas and composts that he then "dynamizes" (swirls into spirals, eddies and whirlpools) and spreads in the vineyards (to help the plants grow or to ward off pests).

"The preparations are like the on-off switch for the vines," he explains. "Most of the process makes sense, especially planting according to the lunar cycle, which is similar to 'The Farmers' Almanac.' "

Beveridge and the 14 winegrowers in the Naches Heights region have applied for official American Viticultural Area designation. With 100 acres all organically grown, the founding farmers hope all future winegrowers will continue the practice. If so, Naches Heights will enjoy bragging rights as our state's only all-organic appellation.

Tasting Terroir: Intense concentration and lower alcohol levels in red wines are more typical of European-style wines than many produced in Washington. The whites show nice concentration, bright fruit, good acidity and pleasing minerality.