In 1872 Lambert Evans (credited with growing the first vines in Western WA) homesteaded and planted a vineyard on Stretch Island. In the 1890's, Adam Eckert, an East Coast wine enthusiast, got Evans some black labrusca varieties, that have since become known as the "Island Belle". In 1912, Lambert's widow sold the property to Charles Somers. He named his winery Old St. Charles Co. which holds the distinction of being the first bonded winery in WA (BW-WA-1), soon after Repeal in 1933.
By 1937, there were 42 bonded wineries in WA, many being people with not much more than a garage and a berry patch. The Davis Winery, whose trademark was "Chambelle", and another with the trademark "Belle Isle" closed and sold to Old St. Charles.
At it's peak, it was a 100k gallon winery. It was purchased in 1965 by Alhambra Wine Co, closing the existing facility on Stretch Island.
In 1977, at the Grapeview vineyard, there was still a private museum in one of the old buildings, and one of Evans original vines is still bearing fruit yearly. Additionally, younger replantings made by cuttings from the original plants are made into commercially available wine at Hoodsport Winery.
Apparently Charles' son Howard worked for NAWICO, then
Chateau Ste. Michelle in
it's earliest days.
Howard Somers passed away in
Jan-2005. Here's a note from
Ron Irvine on Howard Somers passing.
At that time, brother Bill was 92 and still doing tours of the museum
which is the old winery building on Stretch Island.
Of special note:
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