NW Wine Distributors was born from a deep family history beginning with it's roots in Italian Wine making and the beginning of the wine Industry in the Northwest
Mary Reinke and the Oregon Wine Industry
Excepts from Article by Ken Friedenreich
My cousin Mary and I came from an Italian family with a deep heritage of wine making. Mary being much older, started working at Honeywood in 1943. John Wood and Ron Honeyman received bonded winery license No. 26 shortly after the repeal of the 18th Amendment, which established Prohibition in 1920. Honeywood, then called Columbia Distillery, continues to hold that low number to this day, and is the oldest continuously operated fruit winery in the State. In 1963 Mary purchased Honeywood, where she had been serving as the office manager.
Mary passed away in 2015 at the age of 94. She was 15 when Prohibition ended, a bright young adult who graduated from high school and began a distinctly liberated professional life that ended 40 years to the day from the 1934 launch of what would be called Honeywood.
A daughter of my grandparents, Italian immigrants, and born in The Dalles, Mary and her family moved to Salem. She recalls that her bedroom stood directly above the cellar where her father made his own wine, as was the custom among old country arrivals to the New World. “I heard a tap-tapping on my floor,” she remembers, “as corks flew out of fermenting bottles.”
After graduation, she took business and secretarial courses, landed a job at a credit bureau and, along the way, mobilized a party and wedding planning business. Reinke began working at Honeywood in 1943. One can imagine this energetic woman 70 years ago, happily scampering over 10,000 gallons of wine held in huge redwood casks long since replaced by stainless steel.
She oversaw a myriad of business functions. “I was a good study and jumped whenever John Wood growled at me,” Reinke recalled. Honeywood installed its first bottling machinery in the mid-1950s, about 1,200 bottles per day. Evolving fashion and tastes gradually caught up to the winery, and nearly 30 years after its beginning — out of the shadows of Prohibition, the Great Depression, World War II and beyond — Honeywood Winery faced bankruptcy: a crisis turned opportunity for Reinke.
No stranger to publicity, my demure cousin Mary, with bouffant hair and a huge Bundt cake in hand, often appeared in local newspapers or other media. And she had just begun. The regulatory reforms Reinke instigated were sound business practice. She foresaw, to a certain degree, that wine tourism could move product and that consumers liked the convenience of sampling wine where it was made — today’s tasting room — and thus, where they could acquire it.
Mary loved the entertaining and she had her own "advice" column. She traveled the national market promoting what were now her wines. Her presence in the largely male-dominated industry was one part novelty and two parts savvy. She integrated her party planning, recipes and her wines into what we now call “life style,” when American quaffing preferences were mostly beer and spirits.
In 1974, a Minneapolis group acquired Honeywood, and the Gallick family still operates it. The original building was sold to Willamette University and the University of Tokyo in 1991; the present facility and lively tasting room stand diagonally across the rail line from the original building. Even 40 years after relinquishing Honeywood, Mary kept a cordial relation with the Gallick family.
Jenny Brown and Neal Dykeman have been working with the Wine Industry for years before pursuing their dream of owning and operating a wine distribution company in Vancouver, Washington.