Olympic Cellars is one of Washington State’s original 15 wineries and the first to locate on the Olympic Peninsula. Winemaker Benoit Murat blends French and American winemaking techniques in crafting unique award-winning wines under three labels.
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Gift Shop, RV Parking, Picnic Area, Reception Facilities, Tasting Room, Retail Sales
Hours of Operation
Daily 11-6 May through Sept, Daily 11-5 October thru April
Open to the Public
Yearly Production (in cases)
Global warming effect will benefit region’s viticulture
In late 2005, Olympic Cellars spearheaded a successful fundraising initiative to commission a micro-climate study that would identify areas on the Olympic Peninsula suitable for growing cool weather varieties of wine grapes. Dr. Greg Jones, a Southern Oregon University professor and research climatologist who has studied the impact of climate on the suitability of wine grape regions worldwide, was hired to perform the nine month, $15,000 study.
Jones delivered his findings to city and county officials, grape growers, winemakers and local business people gathered in Port Angeles City Hall Council Chambers in May of this year. He concluded that the North Olympic Peninsula does provide sound potential for cool climate viticulture, and the local wine industry should capitalize on the ability to grow unique grapes with a light, crisp, and aromatic style of wine that pairs well with the seafood of the region.
According to Jones, “a combination of all of the region’s viticultural suitability factors identified nearly 2,000 acres of agriculturally zoned land with topographic, soil and climate characteristics suitable for growing cool-weather grape varieties, most of which are yet unfamiliar to this part of the world.”
Jones recommended that growers plant the following grape varieties:
White: Madeleine Angevine, Sylvaner, Siegerrebe, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Muller Thurgau, Pinot Blanc, Gewurztraminer
Red: Pinot Noir, Zweigelt, Garanoir, Leon Milot, Agria, Regent, Marechal Foch, and others.
Further, Jones said that the area’s suitability for grape growing can only get better.
“Trends and projections in climate further indicate that the region’s potential will continue to improve with warmer daytime and nighttime temperatures, a longer growing season and greater heat accumulation. While other grape growing regions in the world will suffer from the impact of global climate change, the North Olympic Peninsula stands to benefit.”
“The North Olympic Peninsula’s suitability for growing multiple varieties of cool weather grapes presents an interesting development for the wine industry in Washington and beyond,” Jones continued. “People with vision will take advantage of the region’s proximity to a large market and the opportunity to introduce consumers to interesting new varietal wines.”
Kathy Charlton concurs. It is her hope that the study will attract growers to the area, thereby raising the profile of the North Olympic Peninsula as a premium wine growing region and enhancing the region’s rich agricultural heritage through new vineyard plantings.
Olympic Cellars Plants Its First Vineyard
Pursuant to the results of the study, Olympic Cellars wasted no time in planting its first small vineyard this year, consisting of the following:
• 80 Siegerrebe Vines (one-year- old)
• 60 Madeleine Angevine Cuttings
• 3 Test Plantings each of Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Madeleine Sylvaner
The winery officially dedicated its new vineyard in May. In the early 1900’s the land and barn now occupied by Olympic Cellars was known as Wayside Farm. It seemed only fitting that the new vineyard should be christened, “Wayside Vineyard.”
To help attract growers to the area, Clallam County Agriculture Agent Curtis Beus will present a series of classes on starting a vineyard on the North Olympic Peninsula in the first quarter of 2008; the specific date is yet to be determined. Winemaker Benoit Murat and other grape growers from the Puget Sound will join Beus as presenters. Some of the classes will be held at Olympic Cellars.
Originally established in 1979 as “Neuharth Winery,” Olympic Cellars evolved throughout the 80s and 90s and in 2001 became the first women-owned and operated winery in the North Sound. Since that time, owners Kathy Charlton, Molly Rivard and Libby Sweetser have taken the Olympic Cellars in a new direction, turning out award-winning wines that support women, respect and preserve the winery’s heritage and celebrate the good life.
Winemaker Benoit Murat, a native of Toulouse, France, joined the team in 2004, bringing a wealth of vineyard and managerial experience from the old country. Benoit utilizes grapes from three of Eastern Washington’s premier “old vine” vineyards in crafting his wines (Champoux, Sagemoor, Boushey), and in 2008 will add a fourth, Ciel du Cheval, and a fifth, Dungeness Bay Vineyard located in Western Washington’s Puget Sound Appellation. His winemaking style favors very ripe fruit and a mélange of French and American winemaking techniques, which can be experienced in all three Olympic Cellars brands.
The premium La Dolce Vida™ line features five varietals that are intended to be shared with friends and family in celebration of “the good life.”
The Working Girl® series of everyday wines, Olympic Cellars’ highly acclaimed second label, was created in support of women and underwrites the winery’s two signature philanthropic giving programs, Charity of Choice and 2X Success, as well as its nationwide network of support.
The heritage Dungeness label was originally released in the late 1970s by Gene Neuharth, the winery’s founder, and remains a local favorite.
Olympic Cellars is a fun, friendly boutique winery located in a beautifully refurbished century-old dairy barn on Highway 101 between Sequim and Port Angeles. The doors are open to all, and the Olympic Cellars team encourages visitors to take some time away from their busy schedules to relax, catch-up with friends in the winery’s Gathering Room, and enjoy Olympic Cellars’ handcrafted wines year-round.
Be sure to check the winery’s online events page throughout the year for fun, zany goings-on that the whole family will enjoy!
Hours: May-Oct, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily; Nov – April, Mon – Sat, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sun, 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.