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News / Business / Clark County Business

Barnard Griffin Winery newest tasting room at The Waterfront Vancouver

Co-owners wait for chance to pour, seeking permit from city to allow outdoor seating

By Will Campbell, Columbian Associate Editor
Published: December 29, 2020, 6:00am
3 Photos
Rob Griffin, from left, and his wife, Deborah Barnard, pause for a portrait with their daughter, Megan Hughes, outside the new Barnard Griffin tasting room at The Waterfront Vancouver.
Rob Griffin, from left, and his wife, Deborah Barnard, pause for a portrait with their daughter, Megan Hughes, outside the new Barnard Griffin tasting room at The Waterfront Vancouver. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

The Waterfront Vancouver’s newest tasting room, Barnard Griffin Winery, opened on Dec. 21.

Located in the Rediviva building, at 665 W. Columbia Way, the tasting room atmosphere is bright and painted white. Co-owner Deborah Barnard’s custom colorful glass-paneled, backlit artwork sits under the concrete countertop.

“Getting the color palette correct was the hardest part,” Griffin said of the tasting room. “We were going for: traveling through the Gorge with coral colors and pops of green, traveling from the desert into evergreens.”

The tasting room isn’t allowed to offer tastings because of pandemic restrictions, and it has no outdoor seating option available, but Barnard is seeking a permit from the city of Vancouver to allow outdoor seating as soon as she can.

The Vancouver tasting room is the second from Richland-based Barnard Griffin.

“We’ve been thinking about the tasting room for about two or three years,” said Barnard. “We can market directly to consumers, and there’s an education aspect from talking to people directly. It’s also a larger scope for the wine club.”

Barnard Griffin has a wide range of varietals, built and perfected over 45 years from winemaker Rob Griffin, Barnard’s husband. Griffin studied winemaking at the University of California, Davis, where the two met. They founded Barnard Griffin Winery in 1983.

The couple’s daughter is also involved with the business, continuing the family’s legacy, Barnard said.

About 20 varietals are available to buy in the tasting room, and most of them are the reserve wines that aren’t available in stores. Bottles range from a $14 bottle of Rose of Sangiovese to a $65 bottle of Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. Griffin also makes two port wines.

“People say, ‘How can you charge so little for this?’ ” Griffin said. “Prices are always relative. We want to be value-process wine. We’re founded on a broad range of price points.”

The tasting room is the fourth in the Rediviva building and the sixth at the Waterfront. At least two more will be joining the ranks in the future, including Naked Winery in the Kirkland Tower.

Barnard Griffin is open Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 7 p.m., and the manager is firm on keeping that consistent while other nearby wineries are shifting around hours.

“The tasting room will bring our reserve wine to the Vancouver-Portland area,” said manager Kristin Bowerman. “Rob is one of the longest-tenured Washington winemakers. Next year will be his 45th harvest.”

The Vancouver tasting room will also have prepackaged food once the pandemic restrictions life and indoor tasting resumes.

Barnard said she plans to expand to a third location, and the couple is looking into a spot in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood.

But for now, the owners are excited about expanding to Vancouver.

“It’s a beautiful spot,” said Barnard. “The story behind the Waterfront is amazing. I kick my Tri-City counterparts as to why we can’t do this. Vancouver is a vibrant community. It has a small-town feel while it’s very big.

“It has become a winery tasting destination without being a Woodinville, which has so many wineries that you can’t find parking.”