The following narrative is my second of three Blogs about rural Stretch Island in South Puget Sound for the Mason County Localism Promotion that our local Realtors have embraced. In Mason County, AR members within the real estate community, are telling their stories about life in our small corner the Country through Localism. Those of us who are actively contributing are encouraging the community to Check It OUT! We are beggining to see positive results.
I hope you enjoy my version of the St. Charles Winery Story.
At the end of Prohibition in 1933, Seattle Realtor Charles Somers and his son C.W. Somers started Washington State's First State Bonded Winery. The winery was named St Charles Winery because Charles was a traditional name in the Somers Family.
By 1937 there were Forty-two bonded wineries in the State of Washington. Three of the bonded wineries were on Stretch Island.
A Brief history of Stretch Island, Grapes and Wine:
Stretch Island is named for Gunners Mate Samuel Stretch, a member of the Charles Wilke expedition of 1841. The expedition was sent to support the U.S. Government's claim to the Oregon Territory.
Sometime around 1872 a Mr. Lambert B Evans was rowing his flat bottomed skiff through the waters of South Puget Sound looking for his dream property. Rumor has it that Mr. Evans was a former Confederate Army Civil War veteran from Florida and was recently released from Prison. It was thought that he raised grapes in Florida
Evans homesteaded on the northern end of Stretch Island and he began to plant vines along the Island's shore and bluffs overlooking Puget Sound. He sold his grapes by rowing his flat bottom skiff 20 miles to Olympia.
Along comes Adam Eckert, from the Chautauqua Grape Belt of New York. He is the one I spoke about in an earlier Blog who was responsible for producing the grape variety - Island Belle. He created a large nursery and experimented with different varieties of grapes.
Back to my narrative about the St Charles Winery.
Realtor Charles Somers bought the Eckert property in 1918. It is said that he liked the soil conditions. As any exceptional Realtor would do to promote his enterprise, he claimed that the area was a "warm early location" in fact, 10 degrees warmer than Seattle. I really like this guy.
In 1933 he started the St Charles Winery. By 1936 the Island had three wineries, all with prime vineyards and two grape juice factories.
By the early 1960's, two of wineries closed and vineyards became abandoned and neglected. But the Somers family still had a nice vineyard on the Island.
The old winery still exits with some original machinery, lab equipment and some old wine bottles with wine in them.
Today the old St Charles Winery building has been turned into "The Puget Sound Museum". The Museum has a huge collection about the history of the Mosquito Fleet in Puget Sound.
My next blog in this Series about Stretch Island will be about the "Puget Sound Museum". Thanks for Reading.