By Lori Kimbel
The stunning paint job that now adorns the walls of the Sunshine Mill Winery will be sure to entice locals and travelers alike to see just what is going inside the old building that was once home to the wheat that created the Cheez-It!
James and Molli Martin both grew up in The Dalles and when people started talking about demolishing the old mill they just knew there was something they could do about it, so they went to work to find funding and ultimately saved the iconic building.
For more than 130 years the Sunshine Mill milled wheat. It was the first building to have electricity in The Dalles and was powered by a Thomas Edison motor, which is still inside the mill.
The Sunshine Mill has the distinction of being the only designated sky scraper in The Columbia River Gorge.
Of course James and Molli were not saving the mill just so people could look at the amazing mural on the outside. Quenett and Copa Di Vino wineries are now housed inside. Quenett came from the Lewis and Clark journals and means Steelhead in the local Native American language and Copa Di Vino is ‘Wine by the Glass’, a product the Martins brought back to the states and developed after a trip to France.
A wine tasting inside the old mill is a unique experience. Old leather belts still drape the metal pulley wheels, a man lift sits silently in the corner and the concrete bases of the silos stand stately and unwavering as the Martins think about their next project, a boutique hotel inside the concrete silos.
“Our future plans include a 49 room boutique hotel,” said Molli. “It will be very organic with the concrete walls that we will add warmth to with color.”
The old mill is alive with activity once again, thanks to James and Molli and their plans for continued growth within the wine industry as well as becoming hoteliers. Who would have ever thought 135 years ago that a silo that would hold grain for years to come would one day become a boutique hotel. It just goes to show that with great dreams come great things.