Victor Palencia of Palencia Wine Company

2019 Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year (Wine Press Northwest)

Victor Palencia’s life has been one of amazing journeys, one of them being from student to rock star in the Washington wine industry.  But much earlier when he was two years old, he journeyed with his family from Michoacán Mexico to the US, settling in the Prosser area in 1987.  As a child he worked with his father on the land, cultivating everything from mint plants to wine grapes.  He knew in high school that he wanted to be a winemaker, and with the help of supportive mentors and a Leonetti Scholarship, he completed the enology and viticulture program at the Walla Walla Community College.   Victor graduated and had his first winemaking job before he was 21, so had to rely on his nose because he wasn’t allowed to taste.  This focus on aromatics still influences his winemaking, as he strives to ensure that each varietal in a glass shines through from first sniff through lingering finish.       

Victor’s love and respect for the land, symbolized by a shovel, has led to three distinct wine brands, all harkening back to his roots.  The Palencia label is dedicated to his father and depicts a sketch of David Palencia using a shovel.  Palencia wines are limited distribution mostly single varietal, single vineyard wines designed to showcase some of Washington’s premium vineyard lands.  The Monarcha Winery in Kennewick specializes in the more widely distributed Vino la Monarcha label, which displays on each bottle a beautiful monarch butterfly wing.  Like Victor once did, monarch butterflies migrate every year from Michoacán Mexico to the US and back.  Victor’s newest tasting room is Bodega Palencia in W. Richland, and that facility will be home to a third brand of wines that will specialize in Spanish varietals.  Victor’s grandfather was the first family immigrant, who left his home in Palencia Spain to start a new life in Mexico.  Grounded in family roots and a love and respect for the land, Victor’s wines have won an impressive array of awards, resulting in Palencia Wine Company being named 2019 Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year.

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