The 8,000-square-foot building offers plenty of room for new activities. Owners Terry and Vivian Flanagan will invest about $80,000 to remodel the former helicopter hangar and business office. The largest area houses the huge commercial grape crusher, wine press and six stainless-steel fermentation tanks that can process up to 12,000 gallons of wine at a time. A new cooling system was installed in two adjacent bays for barrel storage. Temperatures can be dropped to 40 degrees, if necessary, to reduce evaporation and chances of contamination during the final stages of fermentation and oak barrel aging.
Another room will be used for bottling and case storage. A smaller room has been equipped with sinks and counters for Craig Mitrakul’s laboratory and office.
The glassed-in front of the building will house the tasting room, tables for catered dinners, a food-prep room and offices. There’s room outside the building for parking and future outdoor events with a river view.
Nearly all of the wines are made from grapes grown on the family’s 60 acres of vineyards near Quincy. The winery specializes in red wine blends and fruity whites. Rock Island Red is made from merlot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc from its Bishops Vineyard near Ancient Lakes. Its popular Naked Chardonnay — so named because it is not barrel-aged in oak — is made mainly from grapes grown at its Homestead Vineyard just west of Quincy. Premium wines include a reserve cabernet, syrah, barbera and an oak-aged chardonnay. The wines have been consistent award winners and have received high ratings from critics.
Cashmere has always been a town with lots of spirit. Now, more so than ever.
Several wineries and other spiritmongers are moving into town. This is in addition to Ryan Patrick Vineyards’s new highly visible winery on Aplets Way.
• Crayelle Cellars, Waterville Winery and Horan Estates are opening tasting rooms in a remodeled fruit warehouse at 200 Mission Ave.
• It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere Artisan Craft Distillery plans to connect its tasting room in the same building to the wine-tasting rooms.
• SnapDragon Coffee has opened its coffee shop in the building for those who don’t drink wine or need a caffeine chaser.
• The former Cashmere Brewery, located between the tasting rooms and Junkyard Gypsy’s antique store, is now the Public House No. 1 banquet room. It can be reserved for parties and business and social gatherings. A new brewery and restaurant are possible for the space in the near future.
Clustering several wine-tasting rooms is a concept that can work for the wineries and be a boon to the town’s economy, said Vicky Scharlau, a wine industry consultant and executive director of the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers. She has an office on Mission Avenue a few doors down from the tasting rooms.
“Once people find Ryan Patrick, they can be led into town to the other tasting rooms. But it’s up to Cashmere to provide access,” Scharlau said. “The town has a huge opportunity knocking on its door.”
Jill FitzSimmons, Cashmere Chamber of Commerce manager, said she hopes to work with the tasting rooms to develop signs to lead tourists to the hidden Mission Avenue location. Some of the tasting rooms have already been very busy on weekends, so that may not be a problem, she said. There’s already been talk about other tasting rooms opening next year along Cottage Avenue, the town’s main street, FitzSimmons said.
“These wineries will really add something special to our community,” she said. “Folks around here are pretty excited about it.”
CASHMERE — Ryan Patrick Vineyards, the winery that made Rock Island famous and chardonnay naked, has now set its sights on making Cashmere a name that rolls off the tongue like fine wine.
The winery opens at a new location at the former Cascade Helicopters building in Cashmere this month, just in time for the 2010 winemaking season. The Aplets Way site will house all of the winery’s crushing and fermenting equipment and wine storage. There’s also space for a tasting room, catered wine dinners and possibly music events held near the bank overlooking the Wenatchee River.
It’s the winery’s third location in the past five years. The winery’s first location was in Rock Island, the namesake of its popular Rock Island Red. The most recent move was from Quincy, where it shared premises, equipment and its winemaker with Saint Laurent Winery. Craig Mitrakul still makes wine for both wineries, as well as his own Crayelle Cellars, also in Cashmere.
The Ryan Patrick label is one of the best-known of North Central Washington’s approximately 50 wineries. Its Rock Island Red and Naked Chardonnay wines are top sellers at many stores, including Wenatchee’s Costco. A recent Washington business publication listed the winery among the top 50 highest in sales among the state’s more than 650 wineries.
Sales have also been good at the winery’s Leavenworth tasting room, said Terry Flanagan, owner with his wife, Vivian. But the actual winery has never been in a location to bring local tourists in for tours, dinners and other events. Lake Chelan wineries have been very successful at bringing people in for wine, education and entertainment, he said.
“I think we can do some of that here. A lot of people come over Blewett Pass and don’t go to Leavenworth. They hang a right and head to Lake Chelan. I’m thinking we can flag some of them in here,” Flanagan said. “The tasting room is great, but people like to visit the winery. They enjoy getting to know something about how the wine is made.”
Flanagan attributes the winery’s success to quality grapes and Mitrakul’s skill as a trained and experienced winemaker. Mitrakul credits Flanagan’s marketing ability gained from his former career distributing European wines. That’s helped him establish good relationships with major stores like QFC, Fred Meyer, Safeway and Costco.
“There are a lot of wineries that fail for no other reason than their inability to market their product,” Flanagan said. “There’s a lot of good wine out there. It would be very tough to be starting out now.”
Terry and Vivian’s son, Ryan Flanagan, took over full management of the vineyards from his father last year. He’s managed many of the state’s best vineyards, including Chateau Ste. Michelle’s famed Indian Wells vineyard.
“Ryan has done a great job in the vineyards,” said Terry Flanagan. Planted in the mid-1990s, the vineyards are still improving each year, he said.
With a new winery, Ryan in charge of the vineyards and Mitrakul as winemaker, Flanagan said Ryan Patrick is ready to move up a notch in terms of quality and experience.
Rick Steigmeyer: 664-7151