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Organic wine pioneer Bill Powers dies

Guy ‘Bill’ Powers, an innovator and a pioneer of the Washington wine industry, has died aged 88.

Powers was a Washington wine pioneer.

Owner of Badger Mountain Vineyard, Powers moved to Kennewick from his native Oklahoma in 1982 to grow grapes on the south slope of Badger Mountain after a period as an apple farmer in Othello, reported the Tri-City Herald.

After becoming concerned about the impact of pesticides on both himself and his neighbours Powers made the transition to organic at his 70-acre vineyard in 1987 and, in 1990, Badger Mountain became the first winery in the state of Washington to be certified organic.

Powers went on to take environmentally friendly winemaking even further by moving into solar power from 2008 and fueling his tractors with bio-diesel, made of used cooking oil from local restaurants.

Now run by Bill’s son, Greg Powers, and co-owner Mickey Dunne, the winery has continued to innovate, according to Andy Perdue, editor of Great Northwest Wine.

Speaking to the Tri-City Herald, Perdue said the winery made what was the first premium organic box wine in the country, which is sold through Whole Foods Market.

“They couldn’t sell it fast enough,” said Perdue.

Powers met growth and success at Badger Mountain with humility.

And Bill’s humility came through, according to Perdue, and he never blew his own horn despite his success.

“He always did his own thing, but he did the right thing,” said Perdue.

And the response from Powers on winning the lifetime achievement award from the Washington Association of grape growers reinforces Perdue’s opinion: “I am the luckiest guy in the world because I get up, walk out the door and get to do what I love everyday.”

In 2010 Powers was also recognised by being inducted into the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center’s Legends of Washington Wine Hall of Fame.

The Prosser center’s director, Abbey Cameron, said winemakers sought his guidance and advice when trying to move away from conventional practices.

“Powers’ vision led the way for his winery to become one of the state’s top producing organic brands and position him truly as a legend in the industry,” said Cameron in a statement.

“He will be fondly remembered for his lasting contributions.”


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