|Otis Kenyon Wine to open tasting room in Woodinville|
|Written by Deborah Stone|
ShareLast year, Woodinville generated almost $3 million in revenue from wine production and welcomed 13 new tasting rooms. Up to 10 more are expected to open in 2010. Among them is Otis Kenyon, a Walla Walla based winery that has won numerous accolades for its wines.
"We specialize in red wines," says Muriel Kenyon, general manager of Otis Kenyon Wine. "Our merlots have received the most acclaim, but our carmere and malbec have also gotten a lot of buzz. These are specialty wines – ones that we make fewer than 100 cases of and which usually go to our wine club members."
According to Kenyon, the winery had been looking for a Woodinville location for a tasting room, but with space being increasingly limited, they were having a tough time securing a spot. When a 958-square-foot place became available at Apple Farm Village, owners Stephen Kenyon and Deborah Dunbar jumped at the opportunity.
"Although the suite is initially a bit hard to find, we feel that we’ll still be able to draw people with the help of the presence of Village Wines, which has been a big supporter of our wines," comments Kenyon.
She adds, "It was important for us to open a second tasting room outside of Walla Walla to be more accessible to people. We needed to get to where the population is because not everyone can make it over to Walla Walla to experience our wines. Having a tasting room in Woodinville will allow more people to learn about our wines. It will give us additional exposure and get our name out there more."
Otis Kenyon is a relatively new winery, which released its first vintage in 2004. It is dedicated to producing delicately structured and affordable wines under the direction of winemaker Dave Stephenson.
The name of the winery references the colorful Kenyon family history, involving arson, estrangement and redemption. Story has it that Stephen Kenyon’s great-grandfather, James Otis Kenyon, was the first and only dentist in Milton Freewater, Ore., back in the 1920s.
He had a successful practice for many years until another dentist moved into the area. Kenyon, in a fit of anger over the new competitor, burned down his office. He got caught and subsequently confessed to the crime. Because of his prior stellar reputation, local folks signed a petition to help alleviate his punishment.
Instead of going to jail, Kenyon spent less than two years in the Eastern Oregon Mental Institution, where he was a model patient who spent his time doing dental work on the other patients and staff.
During his incarceration, his wife divorced him and told everyone, including the couple’s two sons, that Kenyon was dead. Furthermore, they were never to ask about him again.
"Basically, no one knew anything because they weren’t told and weren’t allowed to ask questions," explains Muriel. "Then, in the early 70s, when my father and mother were getting married, they started doing some research about the family. They unearthed the story about James and discovered that he was still alive and living in Lincoln City, Ore. They contacted him and the family was eventually reunited. James lived until the ripe old age of 101, but until the day he died, he refused to speak about the incident other than to say it was a dark time in his life and that he had made a terrible mistake."
Otis Kenyon’s tasting room will be open in time for the ninth annual Passport to Woodinville wine event scheduled for April 17 and 18. It will offer four of its award-winning red wines, including the 2006 Merlot, which landed a coveted spot on Gregutt’s 100 Top Washington Wines list and the 2007 Matchless Red, which has gained a cult following due to its cheeky reference to the incendiary Kenyon family history.
"We’re looking forward to being in Woodinville and to introducing Otis Kenyon Wine to the community," says Muriel.
Otis Kenyon Wines’ Woodinville tasting room will be open Friday through Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. For more information: www.otiskenyonwine.com