Eastern Washington wine company moving to Bellingham

After years of making wine and hosting tastings in Eastern Washington, Masquerade Wine Company owners Bill and Jennifer Kimmerly have closed their Red Mountain tasting room in Benton City and are relocating to Bellingham.

The Kimmerlys will hold a soft opening July 15 at their new location, 2001 Iowa St., Suite F. They will hold a grand opening celebration July 30-31, during which they hope to have catered food and live music.

Bill admitted that their new space, located on auto row, wasn’t his first choice for their relocation, but said the Iowa Street suite grew on him.

The visibility is great, he said, there’s enough room for their current operations, and the back of the suite, where the tasting room and outdoor seating will be located, is quiet.

In addition retail and tastings, the Iowa Street space will be used for winemaking and to store two 620-gallon stainless steel fermenters, which are used for making white wines, and between 40 and 50 oak barrels for the reds.

The move makes sense for a few reasons, Bill said.

“Most of our customers and clients are on the west side of the mountains,” he said, adding that he was driving over Snoqualmie Pass at least once a week.

The move isn’t simply a matter of convenience, though. Bill grew up in southern British Columbia and has spent a lot of time in Bellingham.

“I have always liked Bellingham,” Bill said. “I have always thought it was a nice mix of businesses and culture.”

There are also quite a few small winemakers in the area, which makes this area more of a destination for winos.

“The competition actually works in your favor,” Bill said. “It’s good to be around other wineries.”

Masquerade currently produces between 500 and 1,000 cases per year; there are typically 12 bottles of wine in a case. Bill said to make his business viable, they need to produce more and that their Iowa Street location gives them the room to do that. His goal is to increase production to 4,000 cases per year within the next few years.

Masquerade gets grapes from Washington growers and is one of a handful of winemakers in the state to produce a sparking white wine. That wine, called Effervescing Elephant, won a gold in the 2011 Seattle Wine Awards competition. Their other wines include a Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.

For more information, visit www.masqueradewines.com.

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