The history of our vineyards goes back to 1977, and our farmland to 1928.
Gerard and JoAnn Bentryn founded Bainbridge Island Vineyards and Winery in 1977, after being inspired by their study of viticulture and enology in Europe, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa. Having cultivated a particular affinity for the elegant, aromatic wines of the Loire in France and the Mosul in Germany, the Bentryns sought out a bioregion with similar growing conditions, and were moved to create an experience of food and wine deeply rooted in place here in the Pacific Northwest. The Bentryns chose to settle in the Puget Sound, where the long, dry summer days are even more ideal for vinifera than some European wine regions.
The Bentryns released their inaugural estate-grown vintage in 1982, becoming the 84th bonded winery in Washington State. That year, the Bentryns purchased farmland on Day Road, in addition to their original one-acre vineyard in downtown Winslow. The Day Road acreage would become the present-day home of the winery, planted with seven acres of grape varieties carefully selected for their ability to thrive in the Maritime Northwest. As part of the Bentryns' pioneering work in the region's grape-growing movement, Gerard was instrumental in the certification of the Puget Sound Viticultural Area (AVA)/Appellation in 1995.
The Day Road acreage where the winery currently sits was purchased by the Bentryns from Japanese-American farmer Akio Suyematsu, and represented only a part of the original Suyematsu family farm, founded in 1928. Excepting the period of Japanese-American exclusion during World War II, the Day Road farm is the oldest, continuously farmed property in Kitsap County. Akio himself worked the land until his passing in 2012, and was an honored mentor to an emerging generation of Island farmers. Once part of the agricultural tradition that made Bainbridge Island the strawberry capital of the Northwest, the land is still tended by several working farms.
When the Bentryns retired, longtime friend and employee Betsey Wittick reopened the vineyards and winery under new cooperative ownership in 2013. Betsey holds a Masters degree in Horticulture from Cornell University, and began growing grapes and making wine with the Bentryns in 1989. As winemaker and viticulturalist at Bainbridge Vineyards, and as proprietor of small-scale vegetable operation Laughing Crow Farm, Betsey is committed to seeing local food production remain a viable livelihood and important asset to our community.