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
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 particular vineyard in Walla Walla (known as
"Stellar Vineyard"), which was for sale in 2001, 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
Friends of the Farms
(AKA: 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
includes the Japanese Internment in WWII.
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
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
We've made it!