Enjoying 10 years with the Maryhill Winery
By DEE HITCH
Mercer Island Reporter Columnist
January 5, 2012 · Updated 2:05 PM
Has it been 10 years since Maryhill Winery in Goldendale opened? It seems like yesterday when Don Leuthold and his wife, Caroline, were commuting back and forth from Mercer Island to help their son, Craig, and daughter-in-law, Vicki, launch their new winery.
Maryhill is third in a series of winemakers or winery owners who grew up on Mercer Island. Craig attended Lakeridge Elementary from grades one to three. In fourth grade, he attended Island Park Elementary while Lakeridge was being remodeled, returning to Lakeridge for grades five and six. He attended South Mercer Junior High and graduated from Mercer Island High School in 1974.
Don Leuthold still lives on the Island; Caroline passed last year. Don reminiscences that Craig was the family gardener as a child, always planting something different to see how it would grow.
Craig and Vicki worked in Spokane. Craig sold plastic raw materials for 10 years, and Vicki sold coffee for her family’s business. They joined the North Idaho Enological Society in 1988. Craig served as president while Vicki was program director, meeting with winemakers and distributors across the country. They dabbled in the wine industry by buying a share in a winery called Cascade Cliffs just down the road from their current Maryhill.
Maryhill opened in 2001. It is like a historical account of the growth of the Washington wine industry. There were 130 wineries then, and there are over 700 now.
Many wineries have baby steps. They start out in a garage. Maybe they piggyback on another winery’s storefront. Craig and Vicki created a destination winery as soon as their doors opened. Visitors were greeted with a 3,000-square-foot tasting room, picnic grounds and a 4,000-seat amphitheater that hosts a summer concert series. Production has grown from 4,300 cases to almost 80,000 today.
Wineries are usually picturesque, but Maryhill’s scenery is breathtaking. Overlooking the Columbia River, guests can see across the river at Mt. Hood. In the tasting room, the Leutholds found and rescued a 20-foot bar quarter-sawn from tiger oak in the late 1800s. It is embellished with carvings and inset mirrors. The tasting room welcomes 75,000 guests each year.
Named the “2009 Washington Winery of the Year” by Wine Press Northwest, Maryhill produces 24 wines. My personal favorite is the reserve zinfandel. When I first heard of this Washington zinfandel, I was leery of its quality. And then when I was told that it was from vines grown adjacent to the winery, I was even more dubious. Maryhill produces both a zinfandel and a reserve zinfandel; they are both rich and brambly. Meanwhile, Craig’s favorite Maryhill wine is reserve cabernet, while Vicki’s is reserve Grenache.
Craig and Vicki’s journey into wine resembles many winery principals.
“We started Maryhill based on our intense love of wine. Recognizing that Washington wines were on the cusp of greatness, we wanted to be involved,” said Craig, “The Washington Wine Commission had it right when they said that Washington state is the ‘perfect climate for wine.’”
“We truly have the best raw materials to work with,” Craig continued. “Year after year the quality of the grapes is outstanding. Even in challenging weather years like 2010, we are getting wonderful flavors and excellent balance in the grapes.”
Fans of Maryhill have been encouraging the Leutholds to put in a restaurant. But Craig and Vicki now oversee all aspects of the winery’s operation. They are content to consider expanding their delicatessen, but not a sit-down restaurant … yet.
Dee Hitch can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go
Maryhill Winery is located at 9774 Highway 14 in Goldendale, Wash.
The winery is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day.
Call Maryhill Winery at 1-887-627-9445 or email email@example.com.
Visit their website at www.maryhillwinery.com to learn more.
Contact Mercer Island Reporter Columnist Dee Hitch at firstname.lastname@example.org.