May 7, 2001
No wrath in the grapes of Grace
by Bronwyn Wilson
Senior Staff Reporter
There wasn't one spot left to park. From Mercedes Benzes to Ford trucks, and even a vintage red fire engine, the lot was full.
A mystery man directed me to park in an unmarked area. I hesitated because I wondered if this was a set-up. In the town of Grace, where I happened to be, the parking meter is mobile and can be placed at any parked car at any given moment.
I didn't bring any change with me and wondered if I could afford to risk parking where the man directed. Then I noticed two other cars parking in the out-of-the way area, so I decided to take my chances.
The Grand Pinot Planting event began on the dot at 8:59 a.m. on May 1st at Vintage Auto Parts on Hwy 9. I arrived at 9:02.
As I straggled in at the side of the store, I noticed a feast of red table grapes, fancy chocolates and plenty of coffee spread on a table. Grace Mayor-for-life Terry Jarvis stood on a stage at a podium and offered a welcoming speech. There were 50 or more people there, all laughing at what the Mayor had to say.
He then introduced Bruce Biehl who is the leading vineyardist in the Northwest. Biehl would assist in the planting of the "Pinot Noir" style vines in the Grace Town Vineyard.
When the vineyardist spoke, he admitted to the crowd that when he first heard about a vineyard in a wrecking yard, he thought it was a joke. Imagine that!
Following Biehl's remarks at the podium, Grand Marshall John Hughes, known as Hugo B. in the town of Grace, stated that he'd like to announce the late arrival of a few celebrities. I wondered what celebrities had just arrived.
There were already so many present. There was King County Council member Louise Miller and Woodinville City Manager Pete Rose.
Also among the celebrity faces was Woodinville's Public Works Director Mick Monken sporting a Dick Tracy fedora.
Egon Molbak was there, looking dapper in a Viking outfit. A lady in a red Yakima Fruit Market apron (or was it green?) wore a sparkly tiara on her head.
As I looked around, Hugo B. announced my name, telling the crowd I was a "star" reporter. Remarkably, I was not deluged for autographs at that very moment. There was polite applause, however.
Finally, it was time for the main event, the Grand Planting of the Grace Town Vineyards.
The potted vines were lined up along a wall in the area known as the DeSoto Gardens. Rev. Geoffrey Ethelston of the Community Church of Grace asked God's blessing on the vines and doused them in hallowed water from Little Bear Creek (when the crowd realized the water used for the blessing came from a salmon bearing stream, there was a loud unified gasp.
To avoid mass panic, Grace officials assured the crowd that there were no salmon eggs in the water.)
The 11, make that 12, vines were then planted, tagged and named. Each has a sponsor at no charge. Among those planting were honorary Grace citizens for the year, Janet and Steve Dolan. The couple had paid $400 at the Woodinville Rotary Auction last August for the honorable distinction.
Biehl will travel to Grace three times a year to look after the vines. Biehl is owner of Area Inc., a vineyard management, development and consulting corporation, as well as owner of Eugene Wine Cellars in Oregon. Biehl became involved with the Grace vineyard project through his friendship with Max Zellweger, a Grace citizen who is a top executive of Corus Brands, a company that owns Columbia Winery.
What did Biehl think of the Grand Planting of the Grace Vineyard? "Number one čit's a great idea," he said. "It was a lot of fun. Down the road it will be a tremendous opportunity for the Woodinville Rotary."
The grapes will be ready for winemaking in 2003 and will carry the prestigious name of Super Premium Reckonyard Gold. The wine is for sale now at $101 per bottle.
"We're selling futures," said Mayor Jarvis. "Max sold over $500 worth of futures [at the event.]" Mayor Jarvis explained that the highest priced bottle of Pinot Noir found in any winery is $100. Therefore, Grace's Pinot Noir goes for a dollar more so that no one can beat Grace.
Terry Jarvis, owner of Vintage Auto Parts and John Hughes, former owner of the Citizen, along with other members of the Grace community, are responsible for the humor and imagination built into the fund-raising project.
Through this event, Jarvis, Hughes and Zellweger are raising money for the Woodinville Rotary Club, which supports community activities.
"All of our events are for charitable causes," said Jarvis.
Grace also supports Children's Woodinville Drama. Plus, Jarvis said that every penny sent in toward a subscription for the Greater Grace Gazette, the town's newspaper, goes for charity as well.
What about the lady in the tiara? Jarvis explained that she is the owner of the Yakima Fruit Market in Bothell, "We call her the Queen of Fruits," he said and added, "She is a delightful person with the true Grace spirit."
And Egon Molbak's attire? "He's always been known as a Viking," said Jarvis and stated that everyone in Grace has a uniform.
I heard later from Mayor Jarvis that the mobile parking meter had floated around the parking lot during the event. But it missed my car. Thankfully, though, I didn't miss the fun of a serious effort to support the Woodinville Rotary Club. To order "Super Premium" Pinot Noir from Grace, e-mail Max Zellweger at: firstname.lastname@example.org . 100 per cent of the proceeds will go toward the Rotary Foundation.