By Carolyn Tamler
Dancing Fish Vineyards at 1953 Newman Road in Freeland is a new visual and experiential destination on Whidbey Island. For now, there is a beautiful barn that houses wine tasting and special events, fields of vineyards that are like a landscape painting and a Farmhouse for overnight visitors.In the future, there will also be wine made from the many varieties of grapes that are being grown.
The name for the property came from a visual experience that Brad and Nancy Thompson had just before they purchased the 6-1/2 acres: She was fishing at Mutiny Bay when a fish jumped out of the water and appeared to walk on its tail.
The image stayed with the Thompsons and now is the logo that appears on the barn, on their wine bottles and promotional materials. The property was originally developed as a farm in 1943.
Nancy and Brad Thompson bought the land four years ago when they both decided to retire and pursue a vision: “We wanted to create a place where people will come and have a magical experience.” Since they have been developing Dancing Fish Vineyards, people have been stopping by and complimenting them on their progress. Nancy says, “People call and thank us for loving the property. Often they bring their friends to see what has been done.”
They began by remodeling the Farmhouse. It now is a comfortable vacation rental that sleeps six to eight people, includes a gourmet kitchen and has space for guests to meet and mingle.
They redid the barn and created a catering kitchen and a venue for weddings, celebrations and corporate events. There is space for up to 100 people inside and 100 people outside. The tasting room can handle 20 to 25.
The south facing pasture field was a perfect place to plant wine grapes. So far, they have planted Madeline Angevine, Siegerrebe, Burmunkand three different types of Pinot Noir. They are looking forward to their first harvest this fall.
To begin getting the best supplies for their vineyards, the Thompsons went to Oregon Vineyard Supplies in McMinnville, Oregon and Cloud Mountain in Bellingham. They originally purchased wine grapes for the visual effect, but then the decided to educate themselves on growing grapes for wine.
In the meantime, they have contracted with some of Washington State’s finest winemakers to create wines with the Dancing Fish Vineyards label.
The property includes horses, cows, apple orchards and the tranquil beauty of a rolling farmland. Those who want to have the total Whidbey experience at Dancing Fish Vineyards can stay at the Farmhouse, receive a personal tour of the property and spend the day walking through the vineyards, playing lawn games, playing on the full-size bocce courts, exploring the entire property, and, of course, enjoying a glass of wine.
They currently have four employees, but they see more in the future as they expand the events and activities that they can host at Dancing Fish Vineyards.
Tasting room hours are Thursday through Sunday, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. There is music on Fridays and the hours are extended to 7:30.
For more information about visiting Dancing Fish Vineyards or planning an event or tour of the property, give Nancy or Brad Thomson a call at 425-503-7655, or visit the website: http://www.dancingfishvineyards.com/