Winemakers Victor Palencia and Bart Fawbush are finally at the helm at the Mid-Columbia’s newest winery outlet, a picturesque urban winery on Kennewick’s downtown waterfront.
More than 300 politicians and wine enthusiasts met at Columbia Gardens Urban Wine & Artisan Village to dispense with ribbon cutting festivities Friday afternoon. The wineries are flanked by Columbia drive on one side and the Columbia River and Duffy’s Pond, along with the Sacajawea Heritage Trail, on the other.
With the official launch out of the way, the two new wineries at 421 E. Columbia Drive, near the cable bridge, are beginning to welcome visitors to Palencia Wine Co./Monarcha Winery and Bartholomew Winery.
Victor Palencia is a Prosser native who grew up in the wine industry and jokes he was producing commercial wine before he graduated from high school. He created Palencia Wine Co. and later Monarcha in Walla Walla.
Palencia is retaining the Walla Walla location, but Kennewick will be a showpiece for his fans and wine lovers alike. He’s leased space for both wine production and for an extensive tasting room that can handle special events.
He’ll hold his grand opening March 3, after which he’ll be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursdays to Sundays to start.
Bart Fawbush and his wife, Chona, relocated their Bartholomew Winery to Kennewick from Seattle in November and began serving visitors about a month ago. The winery produces 2,000 to 2,500 cases annually and retains a Seattle tasting room.
Bartholomew said he will bottle its first Kennewick wines next week and will release three vintages on March 10.
The winery is open from noon to 5 p.m. on weekends and will expand to five days a week “eventually”.
Columbia Gardens is the fruition of an occasionally frustrating effort by the Port of Kennewick, working with the city of Kennewick and Benton County, to spur an economic revival along Columbia Drive by creating a destination for wine lovers, bicyclists and walkers who use the nearby Sacajawea Heritage Trail.
Banlin Construction, a Columbia Drive contractor, built the three buildings in the first phase after submitting the winning $3.4 million bid. The city invested another $1.5 million in infrastructure, including sidewalks and landsacping, as well as a pre-treatment system to neutralize wine-related wastewater before it is discharged to the city’s sewage system.
The port selected Palencia and Bartholomew as tenants in a competitive bid process that drew wide attention to the project.
The economic development project is the first in a series of efforts to reconnect downtown to the Columbia River.
With the first phase now complete, the partners are preparing to solicit bids for the second phase, including infrastructure, roads and a plaza for food trucks. When complete, it will open up private sites for development as cafes and eventually Columbia Basin College’s planned culinary center.
The city and Benton County have each committed about $1 million in rural capital funds to support the next phase.