Phase 2 of Kennewick’s Columbia Gardens
Wine and Artisan Village Is Now a Reality.
Gordon Estate Winery and Cave B Estate Winery are new
tenants of Port of Kennewick’s Wine & Culinary development
By Ken Robertson
In 1980, when there were fewer than 20 wineries in Washington State, two families decided to plant wine grapes at riverside sites more than 100 miles apart in arid Eastern Washington.
Forty years later, Gordon Estate Winery and Cave B Estate Winery are opening new tasting rooms just a stone’s throw from the Columbia River in the Port of Kennewick’s Columbia Gardens Wine & Artisan Village.
Gordon Estate opened its tasting room on Thursday, March 12, followed by the opening of Cave B’s new tasting room on Thursday, March 19.
Unfortunately, because of the Coronavirus outbreak, neither tasting room will be allowed to offer in-person tastings until after Monday, May 4, when Washington Governor Jay Inslee says he hopes to allow wineries state-wide to reopen for business for in-person tastings.. In the meantime, you can order bottles of wine to go and pick it up curbside at both locations. The easiest way to purchase wine from Gordon Estate or Cave B, however, is by ordering from the online wine stores that can be found on each winery’s website.
Gordon Estate Winery, established along the Snake River in Franklin County in 1983, and Cave B Estate Winery, which crushed its first vintage in 2000 from its vineyards that overlook the Columbia River near Quincy, signed leases with the Port in mid-February to join the Port’s Columbia Gardens Wine & Artisan Village along Kennewick’s Columbia Drive.
Jeff Gordon, wife Vicki and Jeff’s brother Bill planted their first wine grapes on their farm east of Pasco adjacent to the Snake River, then opened their first tasting room in the farm’s driveway in 1983, explains their daughter, Katie Gordon Nelson.
Carrie Bryan Arredondo’s parents, Vincent and Carol, chose a site along the bluffs overlooking the Columbia River six miles north of Interstate 90 and south of Quincy to plant their first wine grapes and launch the winery they named Cave B. Estate.
Eventually, the Gordons built their operation into its current annual production of 20,000-22,000 cases of wine. They currently offer unoaked and reserve-tier Chardonnay aged in oak, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Syrah, Petit Verdot, Petit Sirah and Gewürztraminer as either late harvest or ice wine.
“When the Columbia Gardens opportunity came up, we jumped at it,” said Nelson. The Gordons had been watching for a new outlet for their wines after operating a series of ventures over the decades. For 16 years, Gordon had a tasting room on Burden Boulevard in Pasco near Road 68, but at the time, the area had not yet started to boom.
Over the years, they also had a tasting room in Woodinville and a restaurant in Pasco’s Broadmoor development at Road 100, but decided that wasn’t their core business. The family vineyards also produce grapes sold to other wineries.
Their winemaker, Victor de la Luz, joined Gordon in 2017, although Nelson said they also have used top industry consultants, including Charlie Hoppes’ Wine Boss team. “We’re not afraid to ask for expertise and opinion,” she added.
De la Luz is a product of Walla Walla Community College’s winemaking and viticulture program, and joins two of his fellow program graduates, Freddy Arredondo of Cave B and Victor Palencia of Monarcha Winery as tenants in the Columbia Gardens Wine Village.
Two years ago, Bartholomew and Monarcha wineries moved into port-owned buildings nearby during the first phase of the Columbia Drive project to redevelop Kennewick’s historic downtown riverfront.
Arredondo, head winemaker at Cave B since 2007, didn’t start out to be a winemaker. He was about to fly to Italy to attend the Italian Culinary Institute in Piemonte when he met Carrie and other culinary students in New York City before they left for Italy. They liked one another almost instantly, Carrie said. Two years later, they married, but, Freddy recalls, “We became phenomenal friends while we were going to school.”
Soon after returning to the U.S., Freddy went to work at Cave B, then attended Walla Walla Community College’s wine program. In 2007, when the previous winemaker left Cave B, he was promoted to head winemaker.
In the years since, the Arredondos have built a reputation for producing distinctive white wines of almost every style, from sparkling wines to late harvest and ice wines. They produce about 6,000 cases of Cave B wines annually.
This past fall, Cave B won Platinum awards in Wine Press Northwest’s 20th Annual competition for five of its wines – its 2018 Cuvée Blanc (a white blend of Sauvignon Blanc (60%) and Semillon), for its 2016 Merlot, 2018 Chenin Blanc, 2016 Malbec and 2018 Roussanne — all from estate vineyards in the Ancient Lakes AVA.
“You can grow great reds along the cliffs,” Freddy noted, even though the Ancient Lakes AVA is best known for its crisp white wines with their “almost unique” floral notes, crisp acidity and minerality. They plant their reds in pockets close to the river where summer heat lingers into the night from west-facing basalt cliffs. He’s convinced the right conditions can produce great reds in the Ancient Lakes.
Cave B makes Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Chardonnay, Riesling, Roussanne, Viognier, Barbera, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Merlot and Malbec. Besides straight varietals, they also produce rosés and Bordeaux-style red and white blends. They have two other tasting rooms, in Quincy and in Woodinville.
The two new wineries add to the Columbia Drive project’s momentum, said Tim Arntzen, CEO of the Port of Kennewick. He expects that the mix of four wineries, with their regular entertainment offerings and events, the adjacent food truck plaza and shade structure and other project amenities will draw people back to Kennewick’s historic downtown area.
The aim this summer is to establish the neighborhood as a place where “there’s enough going on to where people can head down there and count on having something to do,” said Arntzen. “My vision is … I can head down there and get a bite to eat and relax with a glass of wine.”
The Port is negotiating with two food truck operators to add their offerings to Swampy’s Barbecue, which so far is the mainstay at the food truck plaza.
Currently, the Port has developed only a small part of 16 acres acquired over a decade as it slowly purchased sites between the cable bridge and Clover Island Drive, which connects the Port-owned and redeveloped island just north of the new project.
The Port also has talked with a restaurant group that would be a new addition to the Tri-City food scene, Arntzen said. If that effort succeeds, it would complement the nearby restaurants — Casa Chapala and Ice Harbor Brewpub and Cedars Pier 1, both on Clover Island. “We’re growing little by little, just like small business builds little by little,” Arntzen explained. The Port has six more parcels ready for sale in the wine village area and is starting to update its master plan for Clover Island.
A key part of the new plan will be to redevelop the island’s northwest corner, former site of the Port offices. The Port will be working with the Corps of Engineers and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, with initial work to include armoring the shoreline there from erosion and adding native vegetation as they did on the island’s west side.
Also in the works is a plan to build Columbia Basin College’s culinary school on a nearby Port property formerly occupied by the Cable Greens miniature golf course.
For more information about Gordon Estate Winery and its new tasting room in the Columbia Gardens Wine & Artisan Village, visit: www.gordonwines.com, or call (509) 547-6331. For more information about Cave B Estate Winery, including addresses and phone numbers for all three of its tasting rooms in Washington State, visit: www.caveb.com, or call (509) 820-3710.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Ken Robertson, retired executive editor of the Tri-City Herald, has been sipping and writing about Washington wine since 1977