Elwin Stewart was raised on a ranch in central Washington State where he developed his strong and enduring work ethic and gained a deep love and respect for working with horses and livestock. His long-term interest in growing grapes developed from his early years when he worked summers in Southern California picking potatoes and table grapes.
Elwin’s extraordinary resume is rich and diverse. From his years spent in Viet Nam, Elwin has this to say:
“Viet Nam happened to many of our nation's youth and I was not spared. Much of my time was spent learning mathematics and electronics and aboard the USS Ingersoll DD652. Being on board that ship was one of the defining experiences of my life. In the end, I am as fond of the smell of salt water as I am sage brush on a warm sunny day in spring. The four plus years I committed to the US Navy forever changed how I viewed the world. The experience left me restless and full of curiosity which for me has been a priceless, lifelong gift.”
After Viet Nam, Elwin attended Eastern Washington State University, where he received a BA in Biology with a Minor in Chemistry. Elwin’s early, informal wine-making education began as a graduate school student at Oregon State University, where he earned a PhD. degree in Mycology. Elwin’s journey continued through research and teaching at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul where he learned science and taught mycology. In XXXX(year?), Elwin moved to State College to assume a position in the Department of Plant Pathology. At Penn State, Elwin was able to begin his career as a wine grape pathologist, learning about grape diseases and how to manage them focusing on grapevine trunk diseases. Following his passion, Elwin continued a course of self- directed enology education for many years learning what he could from friends, winemakers, and through a correspondence course offered by the University of California at Davis.
In the spring of 1999, Elwin and Barb (with the help of Barb’s parents and many friends) began their first grape planting at what would eventually become Happy Valley Vineyard and Winery. (Click here to read more about the history of Happy Valley Vineyard and Winery.)
What motivates Elwin? In Elwin’s own words: “What makes me feel fulfilled is showing respect and care for my wife, the people who work at HVVW, my friends (near & far away), the horse and mule, and our dog Harley. I care deeply for customers who respect what we stand for, and for those who demonstrate the same pride in our property as we do.”