Couple's brewery the latest tenant at Port of Walla Walla's incubator cluster

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WALLA WALLA — Plans for a new brewery to join the cluster of wineries at the Port of Walla Walla’s incubator village are coming to a head.

The economic development agency will fill one of its open spaces on Piper Avenue not only with a new tenant but with one that brings something new to the complex.

During their meeting Wednesday the three Port commissioners unanimously approved the application for Burwood Brewing Company, LLC, a craft brewery owned by David and Jennifer Marshall.

The two plan to produce five core beers and four seasonal ones. A tap room will be provided for guests to drink by the glass or order to go, according to the application. Production of the fully developed recipes is slated to start at 200 barrels and slowly ramp up over the next five years to 450-plus barrels.

The brewery will set up shop in the incubator space that’s been home to CAVU Cellars. That winery is graduating out of the facility into its own space on Aeronca Avenue, said Walla Walla Regional Airport Manager Jennifer Skoglund.

She said the brewery could open sometime in September, though a firm timeline was not yet certain this morning.

As with the other tenants of the incubators — Palencia Wine Co., which is another new tenant, Walla Faces, Corvus Cellars and Kontos Cellars — the brewery will be on a six-year lease that ratchets up every year in monthly rental costs.

Built largely with state funds, the five-building cluster was originally designed for bonded wineries that produce about 1,000 cases of wine annually. This will be the first brewery to join, but the Marshalls aren’t the first brewers to explore the property.

A proposal last year from a potential brewery allowed the Port to secure the assurances it needed that a beer-maker could be an incubator tenant, Skoglund said.

“I think it’s an exciting addition to this area,” she said. “It’s another option for people visiting. There’s a little bit of everything there.”

The duo’s background includes work for Seattle’s Pyramid Brewery, where David Marshall was head brewer and later manager of quality, process and development. He also has his viticulture certificate from Walla Walla Community College, in addition to his practice brewing and applications certificate, and most recently has been assistant winemaker at Long Shadows Vintners.

Jennifer Marshall will work the administrative and marketing end, bringing years of experience on the office end and account management. She’s been with Keystone Fruit Marketing since 2005.

Burwood Brewing Company will enter just as the Port introduces new rate and charge guidelines for its tenants.

The guidelines, approved unanimously Wednesday, actually reduced the starting rental fees for tenants at the incubator site.

Skoglund said the monthly cost for incubator tenants will start in the first year at $900 plus the state leasehold tax. That amount increase in the second year to $1,084 per month, the amount that had previously been charged for the first year. In year three, it jumps to $1,265. The increases continue through year six, when it is $1,806 per month, plus state leasehold tax.

After the sixth year, tenants must find another location. They can also leave before the sixth year if they have another location.

The Port’s winery village was built in 2006 with a boost from state funds through the agency now known as the Department of Commerce. Nearly $1 million was earmarked for the first phase of construction, which included three 1,600 square-foot buildings, each with a 500-square-foot outdoor crush pad. Another roughly $100,000 for the project came from the airport budget.

In 2007, the state allotted roughly $500,000 more — minus administrative costs — for the final two buildings. The airport budget contributed $165,000 to complete the project.

The concept has been a model for other startup incubator businesses across the region. The goal is for new businesses to focus on product development, sales and distribution without the upfront costs of property investments.

Initial tenants Adamant Cellars, Lodmell Cellars and Trio Vintners all successfully graduated from the program and continue to operate at other locations in Walla Walla. CAVU becomes the latest to depart.

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