Bits 'n' Pieces: Wine makers go from garage to downtown Vancouver tasting room

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After five months of labor, Mark Mahan and David Smith will open Burnt Bridge Cellars’ new tasting room in downtown Vancouver. In 2008, they began winemaking as a hobby in Smith’s Ridgefield garage with grapes grown in Walla Walla. “Impressed with our effort, and the romantic idea of owning a winery, we decided to see if we could go commercial,” said Mahan.

The building at 15th and Broadway has been their commercial operation site since 2011, with former incarnations as a car dealership, the evidence locker for the Vancouver Police Department and, more recently, the former home of Sigma Design, said Mahan. “We wanted to create a downtown elegance but still within the context of an old building.” The tasting room includes an old-growth juniper wood bar top and exposed wood beams.

Burnt Bridge Cellars joins the growing community of winemakers, brewers and drink-focused shops in Clark Country. “Though the Oregon wine industry is huge. Clark County’s is tiny, but it makes for a very eclectic sort of scene, with some wineries very focused on the wine, others are combinations of restaurants and winery,” said Mahan.

Visitors can try the winery’s spring release featuring four red and two white wines, including a blend called Pont Brûlé, or Burnt Bridge. “David is more into the chemistry of winemaking, while I’ve been attracted to the business side,” said Mahan, “It’s a good partnership.”

Burnt Bridge Cellars opens its tasting room this weekend, from 6-9 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at 1500 Broadway. Visit Burnt Bridge Cellars for details.

— Ashley Swanson

Bits ’n’ Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you’d like to share, email bits@columbian.com.