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Friday, Apr. 16, 2010

Idaho's Camas Prairie looks into sunset

MOSCOW, Idaho — There are changes on the horizon for one of the Northwest's most remarkable operations.

Stuart Scott, founder and winemaker of Camas Prairie Winery in Moscow, Idaho, is looking to sell his award-winning operation. And he's come up with an unusual sales pitch.

“Now that I’m on the high side of 60 I’m interested in shifting the balance of my life," Scott said. "Now, time is more valuable to me than money."

For $135,000, the buyer gets his winery, tasting room and wine bar.

And if the new owner is a novice at winemaking, Scott — a former instructor at the University of Idaho — will stay on for one year to serve as teacher.

“Over the years I’ve learned from my own mistakes and the mistakes of others. I’ve seen many wineries come and go… I’d like to share what I’ve learned,” he said. “So here’s to the next generation. “

Scott won Wine Press Northwest's 2007 Idaho Winery of the Year award for his combination of quality, variety and value. His offerings include bargain reds from Washington's famed Champoux Vineyard, delicious bubbles and desserts as well as award-winning meads.

He and his wife Sue launched Camas Prairie in 1983 just blocks away from the University of Idaho, and the innovations at the tiny downtown winery by the Department of Justice retiree have been many.

In 2008, he became the state's first winery to tap into rural development funds for solar energy. The 5,000-watt system produces 22 percent of his winery's energy needs.

This past winter, Scott installed a 3,500-watt unit that supplies power for his residence, which is above the winery on the second floor of a historic downtown building.

“After rebates, the new system costs $16,000, paying for itself in eight years, based on a $90 monthly savings,” he said.

Scott can be contacted at 208-882-0214 and scottcamas@turbonet.com.