Photos Left to Right: Winemaker Steve Rothwell and Irving Mendoza / Special 40th Anniversary Blend

Washington’s Oldest Organic Winery Celebrates 40 Years

by | Oct 26, 2022

The list of wineries in Washington is ever-growing, as new producers are making waves across the state. For many of those wineries, organic or biodynamic practices have come into play. But there’s one Washington winery that has been making innovative contributions to the Washington wine scene and standing at the forefront of organic farming for 40 years: Badger Mountain Winery.

Bill Powers started farming what is now Badger Mountain Certified Organic Vineyard in 1982. In 1988, with the help of Dr. Walter Clore, Powers began converting his farming practices. The vineyard became the first certified organic vineyard in Washington by 1990.

“At the beginning, the changes were monumental,” says Mickey Dunne, managing partner of Badger Mountain. “And it was a lonely pursuit. He started using specific cover crops, invented and built farm equipment for pest and weed control, and ultimately re-trellised to a modified Scott Henry system to enhance the effect of organic techniques.”

Throughout that process, Powers figured out how to balance natural inputs and labor to get a similar result that chemicals otherwise provided. It was the mission from the very beginning, and the winery has continued to stand on its responsibility to the environment ever since.

A 100% certified organic winery, Badger Mountain follows the requirements established by the United States Department of Agriculture. “On the label it means the wine is produced with 100% certified organic grapes with no synthetic additives in a Certified Organic Food Processing Facility,” says Dunne. 

“For our neighbors, as we are now surrounded on all sides of the vineyard by housing, it means proximity to a working agricultural area that is as safe as it can be for families,” adds Dunne. “For us here at the vineyard and winery it means many things, but primarily it speaks to following Bill’s vision of doing the right thing for everyone involved.”

The vineyard is maintained by other means than synthetic inputs or chemicals. There’s no sprayers here. “It is an integrated program that relies on keen observation, timing, natural products and new methods,” says Dunne. “It is important to us to continue Bill’s vision, which has really been adopted by the staff here. It is part of who we are and what we do every day.”

The winery produces biodiesel for its vineyard equipment by recycling used cooking oil from local restaurants. Solar power, powerful pest fans and helpful cover crops all play a role in growing the grapes used to make organic wine.

But Badger Mountain isn’t just the oldest organic winery in the state – it’s also the largest. Under the Badger Mountain label, an average of 50,000 cases are sold annually. With that case count, it’s also become one of the largest organic wineries in the country. But even at that scale, it has remained dedicated to land stewardship and its organic farming practices for decades — and will continue to do so moving forward.

“All of the practices that have evolved over our 40 years align with our simple mission statement: ‘Natural passion, responsible farming, pure wines,’” says Dunne. “We are committed to continuing this mission, and we cannot wait to see what the next 40 years will bring.”

Upcoming Events

what’s new

Pouring it Forward with Latta Wines

Pouring it Forward with Latta Wines

Latta Wines, a Seattle winery, has initiated a continuing series called the “ Kind Stranger.” With iterations of whites, reds and rosés, a portion of the proceeds from the Kind Stranger at the in-house level always goes toward Mary’s Place in Seattle, which provides...

read more
Pairing cider with 5 tasty leftover dishes

Pairing cider with 5 tasty leftover dishes

When Thanksgiving is over and the refrigerator is full of leftovers, it’s time to get to one of the best parts of Thanksgiving weekend — the meals that can be made with all the deliciousness of the odds and ends that didn’t get eaten on Thursday. What will you drink...

read more