When the U.S. Army sent Gerard Bentryn to Europe, German caving club members introduced him and his wife JoAnn to the pleasures of wine drinking. They fell in love with cool climate grape varietals and vineyard landscapes. Years later after working as a water resource planner, Gerard and JoAnn pursued their dream of planting a vineyard and making estate wines. They chose Bainbridge Island and in 1977 were the first to plant vitis vinifera on the island. They were true pioneers, experimenting one row at a time to see which varietals would thrive in the island’s maritime climate. Some of those varietals such as siegerrebe were new to the U.S., and thus the Bentryns had to get a Plant Importation Permit in order to grow them.
On this 40th anniversary of Bainbridge Vineyards (formerly Bainbridge Island Vineyards and Winery), Gerard and JoAnn can look back on a long list of accomplishments. One of them is the Puget Sound AVA, which Gerard was instrumental in creating in 1995. They also were winegrowers long before anyone used the term in WA state, always believing that winegrowing was the key to the meaning of life. For Gerard, fruit must come up from the earth through the grower/winemaker to the bottle and glass, ensuring that wine is “time and place in a bottle”. For forty years, the winery has made only estate wines. Regarding the Puget Sound AVA, Gerard’s dream is that one day the region will have 20 to 30 estate wineries growing wines “from fields you can see and hands you can shake”.
Listen to the Interview: