image of winemaker, Alphonse de Klerk tasting wine

Our story

Alphonse de Klerk was destined to make wine. A commercial photographer trained at LA’s prestigious Art Center, Alphonse began making homemade wine in the 1980s. He had so much fun doing it, that he attracted other professionals who wanted to learn wine making.

This likeable bunch of enthusiasts started creating wine together in 1992, and would meet a couple of times a year in the Rolling Bay area of Bainbridge Island at the home of Dr. Piero and Angela Sandri. Everything was low tech and hand operated, with lots of heavy lifting. Over the years, more grapes were purchased, more volunteers joined in, and more equipment was added. Every gathering was 80% hard work, 10% spontaneous picnic and 10% “quality control testing”.

The wines kept getting better year after year, in part due to the exceptional grapes. Alphonse was born in the Netherlands and in the 1990s met Alfred Newhouse, a fellow Dutchman, whose family owns vineyards in eastern Washington that are some of the oldest in Washington State. Their friendship created a vineyard/winery relationship that is now in its third generation, represented by Todd Newhouse, son of Steve and grandson of Al.

After a multi-year journey by the fun-loving bunch of amateur wine devotees, the Rolling Bay Winery emerged in 2007, launched by Alphonse, David Verwolf and Piero Sandri. The river rock and arched doorway of the little winery itself is a shoulder to shoulder tasting room built by Piero and Angela Sandri, and stacked to the ceiling with oak barrels and wonderful vibes. This intimate, character driven winery has been rated among Seattle Met’s “Top 22 Tasting Rooms in Washington”.

Since going pro, the combination of Newhouse grapes and the de Klerk wine making skills have consistently made some of Washington’s most impressive new wines. The 2,100 cases that Rolling Bay Winery produces are totally dedicated to the handcrafted quality that’s only possible with a small winery. That quality has been rewarded with recognition including gold, silver and bronze medal awards, and inclusion on Seattle Magazine’s list of the “Best New Washington Wines” in 2012.

And the best is yet to come.

Alphonse de Klerk, Winemaker
Rolling Bay Winery