Mike Lempriere began his winemaking hobby in 1997 out of his basement in his Seattle area home. His first vintage was so successful, having garnered several awards in amateur competitions at the Puyallup Fair, that Mike joined forces with some friends and moved the operation to nearby Woodinville, renaming their “winery” Perennial Vintners.
Between 1998 and 2002, they sourced most of their grapes from Eastern Washington, producing approximately 200 gallons of various varietals. However, a 1999 purchase of grapes from Bainbridge Island Vineyard and Winery (known today as Bainbridge Vineyards), which is in the heart of the Puget-Sound AVA, changed everything—from those grapes they produced a Müller Thurgau, and discovered a new love and appreciation for the delicate cool-climate white wine.
As Mike’s experience grew, it became clear that making wine was not enough, he wanted to grow the cool-climate grapes he’d fallen in love with, and in 2003 Mike and his family moved to Bainbridge Island, purchasing a 3-plus acre former Christmas tree farm and began growing his own grapes. In addition, he now leases approximately 1-plus acres from his neighbors, Bainbridge Vineyards, where he grows Madeleine and Müller. Although his focus was on estate-grown Puget Sound AVA grapes, unfortunate weather conditions in 2011 forced the winery to source grapes from Eastern Washington to produce its wines. Since then, he continues to source his red wine grapes from Eastern Washington, however as he cultivates his new vines, he hopes to return to strictly estate-grown grapes within the next few years.
Perennial Vintners specializes in the delicate wines from the maritime-influenced viticulture of the Puget Sound and has focused on an underappreciated Melon de Bourgogne (known as Muscadet in France), Mike is the only vintner growing this grape in Washington State. A visit to PV begins with a tour of the vineyard and grounds, where you’ll learn about the growing process, as well as the pros and cons of growing various grapes in the cool-climate region of the Puget Sound AVA. Mike’s extensive knowledge in this field gives the visitor a complete educational experience you’ll not receive anywhere else. If time permits, he’s also more than happy to share some of the history surrounding his property, such as the Suyematsu Farm, which was founded in 1928, and with the exception of the Japanese-American exclusion during World War II, the farm is the oldest, continuously farmed property in Kitsap County.
When purchasing Perennial Vintners wines, you’ll notice two different label types; the dark background labels were commissioned from local artist, Dianne Gardner, and are specific to Mike’s estate-grown wines (you can view her original paintings in the tasting room). The lighter labels are distinctive to non-estate-grown fruit.
Perennial Vintners offers a very affordable tasting experience, which includes all the wines that they have available at the time. Currently available wines:
-Isletage 2017 – an estate-grown dry white table wine, blended from their Madeleine Angevine and Müller Thurgau grapes.
-Melon de Bourgogne 2016 – also an estate-grown wine, and the only MdB produced in Washington State, pairs beautifully with seafood.
-Frambelle Raspberry Dessert Wine 2018 – made from 100% Suyematsu Farm Bainbridge Island raspberries. The 2010 release was awarded Silver medal by NW Wine Summit in April of 2011, and the 2012 release was awarded Gold at the same competition in 2013.
-Lemberger 2017 – produced like a Beaujolais-nouveau wine, without oak or aging, creating an unencumbered, bright fresh-fruit flavor. Grapes are sourced Kiona Vineyards, Red Mountain AVA.
-Syrah 2015 – a dry red table wine, lightly oaked.
-Siegerrebe 2016 – a dry white table wine, and is a cross between Madeleine and Gewurztraminer.
Perennial Vintners is a member of the Puget Sound WineGrowers Association, and is the smallest vineyard in Washington State. The winery is solely operated by Mike, using all organic methods. In addition, Mike has propagated vine cuttings for future plantings, which are also available for sale to the general public.
The vineyard and tasting room are open weekends 10am-6pm, and Mon, Tue, Fri 11am-5pm, however, if you’re in the area, give Mike a call on his cell phone as he may be able to accommodate a private tasting and tour (please be sure to check their website, as opening times are subject to change, click here for details).
Location: 8840 NE Lovgreen Road, Bainbridge Island, WA
Perennial Vintners is a member of the Winery Alliance of Bainbridge Island, for more information, click here.