The Slow and Steady Rise of Maryhill Winery

 Vineyard Grapes

Nearly a century before Maryhill Winery was born, a man's dream of turning 5,300 acres of the land into an independent farming region, was dashed by irrigation obstacles. Sam Hill abandoned his land along the Columbia River in Goldendale, Washington in 1917, and moved out of the region.

Maryhill Winery: The Dream Continues

In 1999, Craig and Vicki Leuthold bought 85 acres of the property's adjacent riverfront land to grow wine grapes and, in under a decade, attained their dream of commercially producing fine wines.

Slow and Steady

Similar to the process of making fine wine, Craig and Vicki approached their adventure armed with knowledge interspersed with ample doses of adventure, chance and instinct. Their subsequent hard work ultimately transformed their fantasy into a reality.

The Idea's Roots

The Leutholds' path to establishing Maryhill Winery was long and winding. In 1988, the couple's love for wine led them to membership in the North Idaho Enological Society. Craig eventually became the club president and Vicki served as program director. Both had jobs in non-wine-related industries in Spokane, Washington, Craig selling raw plastic materials and Vicki selling coffee for her own family's business. The pair shared the wine production dream but also realized the tremendous investment and risks involved.

Baby Steps

Instead of chucking the corporate world and jumping into grape cultivation with both feet, in 1997 they opted to taste-test the industry by buying a share of Cascade Cliffs winery, located close to what would later become Maryhill Winery.

A Giant Leap

Two years later, the Leutholds realized their vineyard ownership desires were not subsiding. They purchased land on a headland overlooking Gunkel Vineyard, one of Washington's premier and most productive vineyards, and founded Maryhill Winery. They planted grapes that eventually made their winery among the most successful in the state.

Maryhill's Rise to Recognition

When the winery officially opened to the public in 2001, there were only about 100 wineries in the state. Today, there are in excess of 600. Maryville was designated "2009 Washington Winery of the Year" by Wine Press Northwest and named "Best Destination Winery" by Seattle Magazine. The winery has won hundreds of wine industry medals including six Platinums and unanimous Double Platinums from Wine Press Northwest.

Production Stats

Maryhill Winery's first production run turned out 4,300 cases and, in 2009, they produced more than 80,000 cases, making it Washington's 15th largest winery. The winery produces 19 assorted varietals and 27 different wines. The focus is on premium red wines, especially Syrah and Sangiovese. The vineyards also produce quality bottles of Zinfandel, Viognier, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Grenache.

Amenities & Attractions

Besides offering daily tastings in the 3,000 square-foot tasting room, Maryhill Winery has other attractions, both natural and manmade.

Vineyard Vistas

From the edge of the property's bluff, the orchards and vineyards below are clearly visible. The cliff also provides grand views of majestic Mt. Hood and the splendid Columbia River Gorge.

Special Event Options

A vine-covered arbor along with a large ceremony site on the cliff's edge are available for weddings and other celebrations. Guests can meander through the picnic grounds, visit the Brunswick Bar or dance under the stars on the spacious cement dance pavilion.

Maryhill Museum

After Sam Hill abandoned his property, he turned the half-built mansion he had constructed into an art museum. The Maryhill Museum exhibits include Hill's personal art collection as well as over 80 works by famed French sculptor Auguste Rodin.

Public Concerts

Adjacent to the winery is an outdoor amphitheater that seats 4,000. Guests can purchase concert packages that include dinner and a bottle of wine, pick up some fresh sandwiches and salads at the on-site deli or bring their own food to enjoy while listening to headliners like Earth, Wind and Fire, Natalie Merchant, Jackson Brown, Lyle Lovett and Train, all of whom performed at Maryhill in 2010.

Getting There

Due to its remote, pastoral location, you have to drive to Maryhill Winery. It's about a 90-minute drive from Portland, Oregon or a three-hour trek from Seattle, Washington. Visit Maryhill Winery''s website for more detailed access options and to learn what events are forthcoming.

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The Slow and Steady Rise of Maryhill Winery