Cave B Welcomes you….
OUR STORY: In 1980 Seattle-based neurosurgeon Vincent Bryan II, along with his wife Carol, purchased a several-hundred acre parcel of land high on the cliffs above the Columbia River. The closest town was Quincy and the nearest paved road was interstate 90, six miles away. The Bryans had been on a year-long quest to find land in Washington State which was similar in latitude to the great wine-growing regions of France, and which had both the soils and microclimates needed to grow premium grapes.
When Vince and Carol Bryan chose this land for their vineyards, they immediately saw that they had also received much more than they bargained for. They were now in possession of a piece of land which was extraordinary in its natural drama and beauty. To have such amazing conditions for the growing of premium wine grapes, coupled with a location so stunning in its sweeping, panoramic gorge cliffs, valleys and views, was extraordinary. There was no mistaking it.
But the goal was the vineyards and the Bryans immediately set to work planting on this land which until that point had only seen the grazing of cattle and the growing of alfalfa. Four acres of white wine grapes were planted initially, followed the next year by a more ambitious 50 acre planting. As it became clear that the site, indeed, was ideal for growing vinifera grapes, the first winery: Champs de Brionne came into being in 1984. The ultimate goal was to have the premier estate winery in the state. The excitement of possibility was in the very air; nearly palpable. The soils and the microclimates gave the promise of potentially great wines. But how could they introduce Washingtonians to Champs de Brionne wines? How to get them to come to this new grape growing region “in the middle of nowhere”?
This question was in the back of the Bryans’ minds as they hosted some friends, taking them on a hike on the property, as had become the custom. Near the top of the cliff leading down into the “little gorge,” there was a strangely wonderful natural bowl in the cliff side. Carol and friends walked down the bowl to the bottom, and Vince remained at the top. Soon Vince noted he could hear every word they were speaking, over 1,000 feet below. This was the first indication of the amazing natural acoustics provided by the “bowl” on the cliff. An idea was born: music! Always, wine and music had been together in the Bryans’ minds as birds of the same feather. They were complementary; one enhancing the enjoyment of the other. And with acoustics such as this…
Fairly soon the “little gorge” was to hear its first music; to hold the sound within its naturally-curved cliff walls and send it back out to a listening audience. It was not fancy: a small wooden stage, and a few hastily-laid sod terraces. The sole intent of the “amphitheater” was to provide a wonderful musical experience that would draw visitors to Champs de Brionne Winery. As summer approached pamphlets were written up and dittoed into damp, inky-smelling piles. The Bryan children handed out these “Champs de Brionne Summer Music Theater” pamphlets at the end of the dusty, unpaved road leading past the winery. And, to everyone’s amazement, they passed out 1,000. It was clear: the amphitheater, with its amazing sound, its jaw dropping views of flood-carved cliffs and ribbon of grand blue water stretching off into the horizon, was a very special place. Guests came, tried Champs de Brionne wines, sat on the grassy terraces, listened to the music and enjoyed themselves tremendously. Quickly the amphitheater grew to include a much larger stage and an increasingly exciting line up of performers… the fact that the Bryan family had to vacate their summer trailer to turn it over to these early performers didn’t matter: it was exciting to the Bryan children that people like Chuck Barry had just sat on their couch; eaten at their dining room table. The Champs de Brionne Summer Music Theater was gaining momentum. This land seemed to elevate everything and everyone around it, and with that understanding came the decision to close the winery and concentrate on making the estate vineyards larger, more mature, more select in making them a match to their surroundings. Then and only then would a new, smaller, boutique winery be built.
After only a few years, the Champs de Brionne Summer Music Theater had become Music in the Gorge, and soon thereafter shortened in many northwesterner’s minds to “The Gorge.” It had grown to encompass a world-class stage, multiple grass-terraced levels, and 20,000 concertgoers per show. Artists like Rod Stewart and Bob Dylan took the stage. With every concert at the Amphitheater, one thing became increasingly clear: something special happened to people who attended concerts there. There was a palpable sense of peace, and community, and latent creativity. By 1993 MCA concerts out of LA. came knocking, resulting in the sale of the amphitheater, and the Champs de Brionne facilities, located in the middle of the property that was sold. Remaining were the estate vineyards and the awe inspiring landscapes. By this time it was clear to the Bryans that they weren’t just owners of this special land, but that they also needed to be stewards of the land, in addition the decision was made to let this land effect those who came to it. That meant purposely opening it up to guests. It meant carefully allowing venues which brought in the public while at the same time trusting that those who came would treat the land with respect and reverence. It was a gamble.
Music pulsed and soared at The Gorge over the years while the vineyards grew and the vines thickened and the grapes came into their own. It was time to build that second, smaller, premium winery, and in 2000 the doors of Cave B Estate Winery were opened. Other construction began, as a vision for the entire property crystallized. They knew that just like wine and music, wine and food and the opportunity to enjoy both with those you care about: to linger and taste, discuss and educate, grow and have fun – made wine something beyond simply a varietal, a vintage, a blend, an alcoholic beverage. . It made wine an experience. To augment this possibility, Cave B Inn rose to the northwest of the winery, Tendrils Restaurant was built, a chef’s garden planted, a small, boutique spa created. The doors of Cave B Inn & Spa opened in 2005. This place; this land “in the middle of nowhere” had become, as Vince and Carol Bryan liked to say, “in the middle of everywhere.” And through it all the land remained, and remains, central. In the summer of 2017 Vince & Carol created an intimate venue, the Cave B Summer Music Theater, directly in front of the winery tasting room that holds approximately 1,000 people and hosted the inaugural season of the Summer Sunday Symphony series, performed by the Yakima Symphony Orchestra. Also in 2017, finishing touches were being made on the Cave B Ridge Condominiums, a series of 44 stand alone condos, with beautiful vineyard and river views. Putting on two hats required taking one off, and in July of 2017, Vince & Carol Bryan sold their ownership interest in the hospitality portion of the property, the Cave B inn & Spa (& Tendrils restaurant). This move allows them to continue to focus on making premium wine, growing high quality grapes for their own wines and for others, spending quality time with friends and family, while continuing to move forward with their vision for this extraordinary property. Stay tuned.