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Saturday, Feb. 04, 2012

Cave B resort, winery up for auction

QUINCY, Wash. — There will be a change at Cave B Estate Winery as its owners have scheduled an auction for their historic winery, vineyards, resort, restaurant and adjacent property near the Gorge Amphitheater.

The auction is scheduled for March 15 in Seattle with a suggested opening bid of $3.5 million for Cave B Inn & Spa. Options offered by owners Vince and Carol Bryan include the winery, vineyards, orchards and opportunities for a golf course, additional hospitality, residential and fractional home sites.

Despite what all is auctioned off next month, Cave B winemaker Freddy Arredondo said Sunday the brand that he's been in charge of since 2007 would continue.

"The thing that is being auctioned off for sure is the inn," Arredondo told Wine Press Northwest. "There's potential that the winery would sell, but the vast likelihood is that it would not. That piece was put in just in case there was a buyer who wanted the whole enchilada.

"More likely is that it would be the winery buildings — not the brand or the inventory," he continued. "That would allow us to do something further."

Vince Bryan, a Seattle neurosurgeon, and his wife began developing the property after purchasing it in 1980. They created Champs de Brionne Winery in 1984 and developed a marketing vehicle for the winery — the Champs de Brionne Summer Music Theater set in a natural amphitheater on their property overlooking the Columbia River.

That unique concert venue set among cliffs soon became known as the Gorge at George.

The Bryans subsequently closed the winery and later sold the amphitheater to MCA Concerts in 1993 for a reported $3.9 million, however they retained ownership of the adjacent vineyards to the south of the amphitheater.

In 2000, the Bryans began to create a resort and winery among their vineyards. They hired Berle “Rusty" Figgins as winemaker in 2004, a year before the Bryans opened Cave B Inn & Spa.

In 2007, Arredondo, a son-in-law of the Bryans, took over as head winemaker. Arredondo, who trained at Cougar Crest Winery in Walla Walla, has excelled, particularly with food-friendly Italian and Spanish varieties. Wines under the Cave B and SageCliffe labels are served as the resort’s Tendrils Restaurant.

The Inn at Cave B and Spa was among eight Northwest properties recognized by Conde Nast Traveler on its readers choice list of "Best in the World" small resorts in 2011.

In the early stages of the resort, there also were plans for a golf course. All parcels in the offering reportedly include supporting water rights and entitlements.

The auction is scheduled to be held at the Hilton Seattle Airport & Conference Center by CBRE Auction Services in conjunction with CBRE Hotels.