An innovator in Washington wine was remembered Tuesday.
Guy “Bill” Powers, owner of Badger Mountain Vineyard, died Tuesday at age 88. The Oklahoma native moved to Kennewick to grow grapes on the south slope of Badger Mountain in 1982. He previously spent time growing apples in the Othello area.
Powers made the transition to growing organic grapes at the 70-acre vineyard in 1987 after he became increasingly concerned about the effect of pesticides on his health and neighboring homes.
Three years later Badger Mountain became the first winery in the state to be certified organic.
He continued with environmentally friendly winemaking for years after that. In 2008, Badger Mountain installed solar panels on the winery’s administrative building, including the tasting room, and added a 2,200-square-foot solar array for the barrel room three years later.
At the time, the $200,000 project was believed to be the largest solar array at any winery in the state, and one of the largest solar projects in Eastern Washington.
Powers also fueled his tractors with biodiesel, made from used cooking oil taken from Tri-City restaurants.
The winery also uses eco glass for its bottles, which makes them lighter weight, said Andy Perdue, editor of Great Northwest Wine.
The winery, now run largely by Powers’ son, Greg, and co-owner Mickey Dunne, continues to innovate, Perdue said. It made what Perdue believes is the first premium organic box wine in the country, which is sold through Whole Foods Market.
“They couldn’t sell it fast enough,” he said.
Powers never blew his own horn, despite his success, Perdue said.
“He always did his own thing, but he did the right thing,” he said.
He also owned Powers Winery, which used nonorganic grapes grown elsewhere in the Columbia Valley, Perdue said.
Powers was recognized for his impact in 2010, when he was inducted into the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center’s Legends of Washington Wine Hall of Fame.
Abbey Cameron, the Prosser center’s director, said winemakers sought his wisdom and guidance while trying to move away from conventional growing practices.
“Powers’ vision led the way for his winery to become one of the state’s top producing organic brands and position him truly as a legend in the industry,” she said in a statement. “He will be fondly remembered for his lasting contributions.”