Award-Winning Barnard Griffin Winery Celebrates 30th Anniversary


Apr 30, 2013, 10:05 ET from Barnard Griffin

RICHLAND, Wash., April 30, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- When Rob Griffin graduated from the UofC Davis wine program in 1977, he ignored the advice of his instructors to stay in California. Instead, he headed to the Pacific Northwest with a dream of crafting fine artisan wine in Washington State.

Griffin now holds the honor of being Washington State's most enduring winemaker; making wine on a continuous basis in Washington longer than any other winemaker in the state. His Barnard Griffin Winery of Richland, Wash., is celebrating its 30th year in operation.

Head winemaker Griffin, along with his wife and business partner Deborah Barnard, launched their Winery label and venture in 1983 and established the Richland facility, located in the Tri-Cities area in Eastern Washington, in 1996.

As part of the 30-year celebration, they've completed a total expansion and renovation of their winery property. "This is the next step for us as a business; to grow and to incorporate the second generation," says Griffin. "We can't wait to show it off to folks who haven't had a chance to visit lately. It's quite an expansive renovation inside and out. It's a whole new winery." 

"Slow and steady growth was and is our Mantra. And it worked," said partner and wife Deborah, upon reflection on the winery's success.  "With our winery's 30 year anniversary, we are one of the top wineries in the state by any measure and this is out of a field of more than 700 Washington state wineries."  

As part of the new remodel/expansion, Deborah Barnard's fused-glass studio, db gallery, was given a new home within the winery complex.  Deborah teaches glass classes, constructs her own work, and hosts nationally acclaimed guest artists.

In its first year of the winery's operation, 400 cases of Fume Blanc, Chardonnay and Riesling were produced. In its second year, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon were added to the production list. Today Barnard Griffin is now one of the largest privately owned Washington wineries, producing 70,000 cases per year.

When asked what makes him the most proud regarding his wines over the last 30 years, Rob cited three achievements:  "I suppose that number one for me is our focus on creating a master quality wine throughout our entire line. From Fume to Cabernet, each wine is varietally accurate. This is difficult to achieve and requires constant vigilance. Secondly, we work extraordinarily hard to maintain Vintage-to-Vintage consistency, even though Mother Nature likes to throw us a curve ball from time to time.

Thirdly, I am proud of the extent of the recognition our wines have received. And of all the recognition, I am particularly pleased with having won Gold or Better at the San Francisco Chronicle's Wine Competition for our Rose of Sangiovese for seven years in a row. And, this wine competition is based on a double-blind evaluation by 50 - 60 judges, which is a formidable gauntlet for any varietal.  Plus our Cabernets have won Gold or better in the Washington State Wine Competition for five years in a row.  I feel that this underscores our approach to constancy and consistency." 

Barnard Griffin currently produces two labels. The Reserve Label wines are crafted in very limited quantities from the best vineyard lots in the region, using European, French, and American oak. 

Barnard Griffin's signature Tulip Label wine is one of Washington's most easily recognized wines and is available in restaurants and stores across the country.

Rob looks back fondly on his career as a winemaker. From his first days in Sonoma Valley and as a student at the Viticulture and Enology program at the University of California, Davis, he always recognized the great potential of Washington Wine Country, which is on the same northern latitude as France's winegrowing regions.

He began his career in Washington wine at Preston Wine Cellars, where he worked as winemaker for seven years and was awarded the first ever 'Double Gold' by the Enological Society of the Northwest. He later became head winemaker at Hogue Cellars, where he worked for eight years.

"I had a wealth of wonderful experiences. Of course, when I married Deborah in 1980 and we opened Barnard Griffin in 1983, I didn't know we would be destined for 30 years of success.  But what a wonderful milestone we are celebrating, not just for ourselves but also for the State of Washington, its wines, and our fans."  

Recent acclaim for Barnard Griffin wines:


  • (Largest American competition in the world):
    • Best in Class for '11 Chardonnay and Gold for '08 Reserve Cabernet


  • Best of the Best Roses for Rose of Sangiovese
    • Rose winning Gold or better for an unprecedented 7 years in a row!


  • "Top 100 Best Buys of 2011" for '09 Fume Blanc,
    • 94 points for Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon


  • "Top 100 Most Exciting Wines" for 2009 for Riesling


  • Best Merlot and Double Gold; Best Red, Best Cabernet, and
    • Gold for Cabernet Sauvignon

The winery and tasting room are located at 878 Tulip Lane in Richland, Wash. For more information, please visit or call (509) 627-0266.

Barnard Griffin's Newsroom includes graphics, Bio information, a winery timeline, videos, accolade and award information:

Images available upon request.

SOURCE Barnard Griffin