Greg Osenbach of Whidbey Island Winery
Greg Osenbach is an engineer turned winemaker, who left his north Seattle home to grow grapes and make wine on Whidbey Island. In 1986 when he planted his first vines on the south end of the island, no one else was growing grapes on Whidbey. He talked with one or two other Western WA winemakers before planting his vineyard to Siegerrebe, Madeleine Angevine, and Madeleine Sylvaner, the three varietals that still make up his estate vines today. His Whidbey Island Winery tasting room opened in 1992, and he sold out of his first vintage of 400 cases in 6 weeks. Greg makes 3,500 cases today, and Whidbey Island is a destination venue for sippers, with 7 wine tasting rooms and several distilleries.
During harvest time, Greg spends a lot of time trucking fruit over the mountains, as 75% of the grapes he uses in his wines come from Eastern WA. He’s partial to Italian red varietals, especially sangiovese, which is his flagship red wine. A number of other Italian varietals appear on his wine list, including Primitivo, Dolcetto, and a Barbera Port. His flagship white is the Island White, a blend of Madeleine Angevine and Sylvaner, with a touch of Riesling and Chenin Blanc. This wine is a customer favorite that appeals to a wide range of palates. In this interview he talks of his many diverse wines, the virtues of Whidbey Island as a weekend destination getaway, changes in the industry since the mid 80s when he planted his first vines, and much more.
Listen to the Interview: