Sunshine Mill Now Makes Wine

A couple of months ago I had the privilege of touring the Sunshine Mill Artisan Plaza and Winery in The Dalles, Oregon. Who would have thought a flour mill could have become a luxury wine tasting room and event venue. But it has. The cave-like dining area reminded me of a place where the Bachelorette might dine with one of her chosen men.

Why is this place called the Sunshine Mill?

If you’ve ever eaten Cheez-it crackers, those salty delights came from this very site when the flour mill was operational. Constructed of concrete and rebar, the Sunshine Flour Mill extended to a height of 125 feet, making it the tallest structure in The Dalles. For the most part the exterior remains the same to this day. Eventually cracker production decreased and the mill lost its viability. After closing shop, it stood unused until James and Molly Martin purchased it and converted it to a winery.  

The Martins named their winery, Quenett, which means steelhead. In a short amount of time, it has grown to be the second largest winery in Oregon. Quenett produces 2,500 cases of bottled wine and 125,000 cases of Copa Di Vino a year.

Are you a “Shark Tank” fan? If you watch this Friday night TV show, you may have seen James Martin. On two different occasions he appeared before the millionaires (the Sharks) asking for support for his invention of wine by the glass. Each plastic glass contains a serving of wine and is sealed with foil and a plastic cap. These can be purchased at the winery and in grocery stores. I brought some home and really wish I had more. (I just noticed on the website you can put in your zip code and find the nearest place to buy Copa Di Vino). Excuse me I need to go to the store. 

Copa Di Vino

These little gems make great picnic accompaniments plus the wine tastes divine. Martin’s Copa Di Vino (the wine by the glass) has become one of the fastest growing brands in America. And he turned down the deals the sharks offered him.

The long and cavernous wine tasting room has chandeliers made entirely from wine bottles, a comfy couch or two, tables and more to look at then you’ll find in any other winery. It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re near The Dalles.

Keep an eye on Sunshine because plans have been set into motion to make the grain silos into a seven-story hotel. If you think James Martin has unrealistic dreams, check out the photo gallery for the Quaker Square Hotel in Akron, Ohio. Converting grain silos into lavish lodging has already been done.

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12 Responses to Sunshine Mill Now Makes Wine

  1. What a neat idea! I guess two questions come to mind: How much extra do customers pay for by the glass portions—and are they less eco-friendly than bottles?

  2. sheryl says:

    Sounds like a very interesting place!

  3. Alexandra says:

    I’m not too happy about the plastic glasses being sold with wine in them. Why can’t they offer real glasses, the way our local winery does?

  4. But! Wine is one of the last holdouts on (mostly) environmentally friendly packaging! I hate to see it available in plastic cups, no matter how good the wine is. I might try it in a bottle, though. ;)

    • JohnJay says:

      The winery does offer traditional bottled wine. The single-serve Copas are perfect when you just want one glass, not a whole bottle, so your wine stays fresh. The cups are labeled PET 1 for easy recycling (same recycle code as pop and water bottles).

  5. Heather Larson says:

    It’s very heavy plastic that feels almost like glass. The owner also says all the packaging is eco-friendly.

  6. So what happened on Shark Tank? Did they invest in this company?

  7. merr says:

    So interesting!

  8. It is a clever idea, but seems to me it needs to go a little further and find a substitute for plastic. No matter how many times the owner says it is eco-friendly, I have trouble believing the container is going to be biodegradable. Sometimes they say eco-friendly and it means they’ve recycled other plastic to make their plastic. That’s good, but not quite solving the problem.

    • JohnJay says:

      The Copa serving containers ARE 100% recyclable. They are PET marked “1″ for easy recycling. Same PET code as your water, juice, and soda pop bottles. They can be recycled right along side your plastic soda bottles.

  9. Jane Boursaw says:

    Love Shark Tank! How cool.

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