Gamache Vintners opens in Prosser Vintner's Village

PROSSER -- Gamache Vintners recently moved to a new home in the Port of Benton's Vintner's Village.

The winery already is seeing a steady increase in visitor traffic, said Bob Gamache, who along with his brother Roger owns the winery previously located on Dallas Road in West Richland. The new facility combines production and bottling operations, and a tasting room.

The winery will hold a ribbon cutting at 11 a.m. today.

With the arrival of Gamache Vintners, the port's 32-acre site is fully occupied, said Stuart Dezember, assistant executive director of the Port of Benton. The site, at the north end of Prosser off Interstate 82, has 13 wineries and a nursery, he said.

In the early 2000s, the site was developed for a bonded wine warehouse, he said. But when those plans fell through, the port and the property owners in the vicinity came up with an alternative vision, and a new name for the site: Vintner's Village. The idea was to make it a destination, Dezember said.

Several winemakers saw the park's potential, Dezember said. Willow Crest Winery built a warehouse in 2004, and a year later, Thurston Wolfe Winery opened a tasting room in the village.

Now, the port is working to develop a new 18-acre site south of Vintner's Village to potentially attract wine or wine-related businesses, he said.

Gamache said he's excited to be in Vintner's Village. A cluster of wineries makes it easier for consumers to visit different wineries without having to drive around, he said. He said he's been advertising his winery through the internet and local chamber of commerce.

Also, a wine destination with multiple offerings is easier to promote, he said, adding he plans to work with Wine Yakima Valley, an association of wineries, on that.

The port has done a good job of getting the word out about Vintner's Village, he said.

The second phase of development in the village will complement the existing businesses, Dezember said, adding the port plans to spend $1.2 million to provide utilities.

This next phase will feature smaller lots and cost about $80,000 to $90,000, he said. The port is looking at possibly having restaurants, cheese makers and wineries in the new development, Dezember said.

The port also plans to have a bed and breakfast joint on the site, which boasts of a 100-year-old home listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

"But we are keeping our minds open," Dezember said.