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Hinzerling Winery to celebrate 30th anniversary

PROSSER - Founded in 1976 by the Wallace family, Hinzerling Winery will celebrate its 30th anniversary with a special retrospective tasting and dinner at the Vintner's Inn restaurant at Hinzerling Winery in Prosser, Saturday, Sept. 16, beginning at 6 p.m.

"We will draw a couple of dozen bottles from our library of past wine vintages and taste them with some matching appetizers," Mike Wallace, Hinzerling president and winemaker, said. "This is a rare opportunity to taste some historic wines from the early days of Washington's modern wine industry. I think tasters will be amazed at the quality, richness, complexity and just downright tastiness of these well matured gems."

The Wallace family moved from Seattle to the Lower Valley in 1972 and planted one of the first wine grape vineyards on the Roza Irrigation District. Wallace had just graduated from graduate school at the University of California at Davis, where he specialized in agricultural management and enology, the science of winemaking.

Mike's father, Jerry Wallace, had been a detective with the Seattle Police Department.

"I'd been involved in law enforcement for a long time and when Mike and I got interested in wine, I said to him, 'Your mom and I would like to come and join you in this venture,' and we did," Jerry Wallace said.

Jerry managed the vineyard while it was coming into bearing and Mike worked as a research associate in what was later known as "The Wine Project" at WSU, Prosser. This program was headed up by the "Father of Washington Wine," Dr. Walter Clore.

"Walt was a great guy to work for," Mike Wallace said. "He gave me a list of projects that I was responsible for completing and then told me that I could do whatever else that interested me."

Mike Wallace got to study diverse subjects such as bird depredation in vineyards to the productivity of grapevine secondary buds.

"It was great fun and I probably should have been paying to work there what with all I learned," he added.

"The Wine Project" funding ran out about the same time the Wallaces' vineyard began to bear enough crop to make wine. In 1976 the Wallaces bought an old cement-block building just off Wine Country Road. in Prosser and began harvesting their first crop that fall. Soon they were making award-winning wines.

"Believe it or not, 60 percent of the wine consumed in the U.S. at that time was Rosé," Mike Wallace said. "In those days you couldn't give away red wine so we made most of our wine from varieties such as Riesling, Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer. Not knowing any better we did grow some Cabernet and later some Merlot."

He said he made those reds in a heavier style and thinks that's one reason they are in such good shape today.

Reservations are required for the Sept. 16 dinner and tasting celebration and seating is limited. For more information call 509-786-2163 or 800-727-6702.

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