Sunday, June 14, 2009

Pend d'Oreille Winery Celebrating 14 Years in Sandpoint

For the last 14 years Steve and Julie Meyer, owners of Sandpoint’s Pend d’Oreille Winery, have built a reputation among premier winemakers in the Northwest. But the road to success really began when a passion for adventure brought them to Europe 24 years ago.

Steve, a native of California, was attending college in Santa Cruz during the early 1980s when he met Julie Fenton in the ski club. Studying physical therapy, Steve took a break from school in 1985 to travel to Europe with two other friends. His plan was to ski the Alps while his friends hoped to work the grape harvest in France. Steve invited his friend Julie to travel with him.

“I had a one-way ticket and my skis,” said Steve. But Steve and Julie’s side adventure of picking grapes with his friends turned into a life-changing experience. The group stayed with a family in France who took them under their wing. It was then that Steve’s love of winemaking and his love story with Julie began.

In 1986 the two returned to California, where Steve attended UC Davis and San Jose State University and enrolled in classes to enhance the knowledge of winemaking he acquired in France. For six years Steve also worked at various California wineries. He and Julie married in 1988.

Realizing it would take more than being an exceptional winemaker to be successful, Steve returned to school and received an accounting degree.

“It gave me the next tool I needed to run our business,” said Steve.

He and Julie moved to her native Sandpoint in 1993 where Steve was employed with a local CPA firm. Then in 1995 the couple realized their dream when they opened Pend d’Oreille Winery. Since then the local winery has become popular for not only its wine but also its commitment to community.

This year, Fridaythrough next Sunday, the Pend d’Oreille Winery will host its 14th anniversary celebration. Marking the celebration will be the release of Pend d’Oreille Winery’s first Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.

“It will be a winemaker signature series and well worth the wait,” said Steve.

During the weekend there also will be 20 percent off all current release wine and merchandise, live music and complimentary appetizers.

While the community will celebrate the success and the fine wine that is produced at Pend d’Oreille Winery, it will also be a celebration of Pend d’Oreille Winery’s impact on and love for the Sandpoint community.

Since it first opened, Pend d’Oreille Winery has done much to contribute to the well being of this small North Idaho community, and is known for the support it lends to the many nonprofit groups.

Last year Ponderay Rotary wanted to put on a wine-tasting event with proceeds going to a local cancer organization. Barb Perusse, a member of the Rotary, approached Steve Meyer and asked for some assistance.

“Steve jumped right in with both feet,” said Perusse. “His passion to help local organizations and contribute to the betterment of the community made the whole difference for our fundraiser. We were more successful than we ever dreamed of thanks to all of the help Steve provided. He and Julie truly care about this community.”

During the Christmas holiday season, Pend d’Oreille Winery hosts several Sip ’n’ Shop events over the course of the weeks leading up to the holidays.

“For three weeks we invite nonprofits to come into the Winery to host an evening of social fun and shopping,” said Steve. “We donate 10 percent of the proceeds back to the charity of the night. It is always so much fun to give back.”

Another way that Pend d’Oreille Winery reaches out to benefit the community is through its new Think Green Drink Red Campaign which was introduced in February. Julie Meyer became increasingly disturbed when she witnessed the glass bottles that were being set out for curbside recycling. For anyone seeking to do what it can for the environment, this would normally be the perfect answer – recycle. However, because Sandpoint does not have a market for recycled glass, all of the glass was being reintegrated into solid waste. It is then sent to a landfill in Eastern Oregon.

Eager to see what they could do to help curb the amount of glass being disposed, Steve and Julie sat down with their staff to see what ideas they could generate. The result was a 1.5 liter bottle that patrons can purchase and have refilled.

The wine being offered in the refillable bottles is the popular Bistro Rouge. But by using a generic label, Steve says they have the freedom to change the type of wine that they sell in the refillable containers.

“The program has been enthusiastically accepted by our clients who love the idea of coming into the winery to get their bottle refilled,” said Steve Meyer. “It gives us a chance to touch base with them and to return the favor by putting a delicious wine into a reusable and sustainable container. It’s a win-win idea.”

Steve attributes much of their success to not only his longtime mentors in the wine business, but also to the Sandpoint community.

“We put wine quality and commitment to the community first,” said Steve. “Without community support it would be difficult to make this business go day to day. It’s a partnership.”

Steve said his and Julie’s common vision has helped them become the success they have.

“Julie and I are partners in business and in life,” said Steve. “And we strongly believe that when you can you should give back to your community. When we give back to the community we are helping those who have supported us, allowing us to flourish and become an integral part of the community. In the end it is all about the integrity of life.”

If you go
Pend d’Oreille Winery Anniversary Party
220 Cedar Street, Sandpoint

Free tours of the winery all weekend.

Friday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Artwalk reception featuring the art of Daris Judd

Live music with Daniel Mark Faller, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Saturday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Live music with Mike and Shanna Thompson, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Sunday: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information log onto or call (208) 265-8545

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