Don Corson has been making wine since 1981 when he started with 100 pounds of Eastern Washington grapes and made his first Cabernet Sauvignon. Over the next decade he joined a small but growing number of winemakers in the state with a passion for making wine with the hope of “going commercial”.
In 1992 Don and his wife Vicki formed Camaraderie Cellars with a combination of hope, a small new building, great vineyard connections and a family philosophy that the best things in life are meant to be shared. Only 200 cases of that 1992 vintage was made but it earned a Gold medal at the Enological Society of the Pacific Northwest’s annual judging. Since that time Don has increased production to about 3,500 cases of wines, the buildings have grown in number and size, and in critical acclaim locally and nationally.
Don’s passion for winemaking stems from a multigenerational passion for good food. Family enjoyment of fruit and the tradition of canning the harvest’s bounty evolved with Don to preserve the essence of the vineyard’s crop in a different form – the bottle! Don believes that nothing is better than a good meal with good wine and good friends to share it with.
Sharing life’s best is captured in the name of the winery he and Vicki chose, “Camaraderie” and the name of their flagship wine “Grâce.” Camaraderie focuses on friends and sharing that goes deeper than just a good time together. “Grâce,” in the French means thanks and blessing, elegance and charm, concepts that go beyond a label and represent a generous spirit, a way of doing things, and values that should be at the table and in life.
Don retired in 2009 from a challenging “day job” as Vice President of Planning and Development at Merrill & Ring, a timber and land company. He also holds a Ph.D. in Geography and loves working on the winery garden grounds building and planting new things for visitors to the winery to enjoy. He currently serves as a member of the Washington Wine Institute where he brings his enthusiasm for winemaking to help support the industry as a whole.
Don and Vicki have two children: Annie, a Washington State University graduate who is an oncology pharmacist supervisor in Tacoma. She is married to Matt and they are parents to wonderful grandchild, Jacob. Steven, a graduate of Michigan State in Hospitality Business and of the Culinary Institute of America , is employed by Northwest Naturals, a Bothell company which does food product development.