Owner Kim Roberts
Owner Kim Roberts (Photo by Rick Moyer)

With more than 500 medals for their wine, a “Top Five Winery Restaurants” awarded twice by USA Today for their restaurant, rave reviews for their lovely gardens replete with art, an extensive gift shop and a new distillery, the Westport Winery Garden Resort has become a “place to go to” not just for Grays Harbor residents, but also for people throughout Washington State.

And if that isn’t enough to entice you to visit the winery, perhaps you’d be interesting in visiting the latest addition:  a unique mermaid museum that opened this spring.

Kim and Blain Roberts, along with their daughter Carrie, have turned 20 acres of unwanted and undeveloped land halfway between Westport and Aberdeen along State Route 105 into a top-tier American destination.

A force to be reckoned with, Kim Roberts describes herself as “an architect, developer and seat-of-the-pants entrepreneur.” Each new creative addition to the Westport Winery Resort has brought accolades and financial success for her and her family, but her life has not always been so sweet.

When Kim moved to Westport as a 17-year-old, she tried unsuccessfully to hire on as a deckhand.  She was admonished that “girls don’t work on boats.”  Undeterred, she found a captain who would try her out for no pay.  She worked as a maid and lived in a trailer when the boat docked until she proved herself to be indispensable and was hired as a fulltime deckhand. With what she earned, Kim was able to put herself through college, where she earned dual degrees in architectural science and architecture.

“Although there were few women working on boats in those days, for those of us who gave it a try, we were able to prove ourselves and find tremendous opportunities as a result,” she says. “Those were the best days of my life and they changed the course of my life. I will forever be grateful.”

It was in Westport that Kim met Blain Roberts in 1988. He owned a diving business in Maui and convinced her to marry him and move to the island, but she “made him promise” that they would someday return to her beloved Harbor. Seventeen years and many successful ventures later, the Roberts purchased the land in 2005 and the rest, as they say, is history.

The Wines

When the Roberts acquired the Arbor Road property, their original plan was to grow blueberries or Christmas trees.  Fortuitously, they consulted with former WSU Master Gardener Don Tapio before advancing. He deemed that a small farm such as theirs could only survive if they sold directly to the consumer. He told them, “Plant a vineyard and build a winery. It will be historic.”

Since neither Kim nor Blain really drank, they were skeptical, but Tapio was convinced the couple had the tools needed to be successful and the wine-making was something that could be learned. Many mentors have played a hand in forming the extensive wine list now available at the winery and from the onset a wine consultant has been on retainer. Currently 42 different wines are available for purchase.

Owner Blain Roberts serves wine in tasting room
Owner Blain Roberts serves wine in tasting room (Photo by Rick Moyer)

And, while the vineyards they originally planted have now been replaced with extensive gardens, all the wine is made on the property. “We harvest grapes from our favorite vineyards in Eastern Washington, drive them over the mountains, crush, press, ferment, filter and bottle all of them here,” Kim explains.

Connoisseurs may want to look into joining the winery’s wine club. Membership is free and comes with complimentary tasting of five pours in the tasting room for a member and four guests, as well as discounts on wine and gift shop items. Members receive two bottles of wine per quarter based on the club they sign up for, but exchanges are allowed.

Not only are the award-winning wines sumptuous but the labels are also striking. Blain’s surfing partner, Darryl Easter from California, contributed numerous labels that are beautifully water colored.  Other labels are created from artwork from local artists including Wally Mann, Dr. Brian McGregor and Barbara Sampson. Kim also created the artwork for several of the labels herself.

The Sea Glass Grill

Westport Winery Garden Resort draws even those who don’t enjoy wine. Many come just to experience a relaxed meal at the inviting restaurant or pick up dessert to enjoy during a picnic on the beach. “We named the restaurant the Sea Glass Grill, not because it is seafood, but because we love the treasures of the sea,” says Kim of the lovely dining room overlooking the gardens. The award-winning restaurant includes some seafood entrees but also homemade breads and tempting desserts. Brunch is served all day.

Ocean’s Daughter Distillery

Just before Covid-19 hit, the Roberts opened a distillery at the resort. Kim and daughter Carrie had traveled around the country researching different distilleries and came away feeling inspired.  Kim approached this challenge with the same creativity and “seat-of-the-pants” entrepreneurship that is her hallmark and the distillery has taken off. The majority of the ingredients used in the spirits are locally sourced. In addition, fruits and botanicals from the winery’s own gardens are used to infuse the spirits.

“We learned early that our guests enjoy variety,” says Blain. And variety they do indeed have with nine different imaginatively infused vodkas, a variety of liqueurs, and an assortment of whiskies, gins and rums.

Guests can enjoy inventive cocktails as they dine that are created from the infused spirits and other interesting ingredients such as the “Lavender Drop,” crafted from the Purple Reign lavender lemon gin, lavender infusion, lemonade, and lavender seeds. Another option is ordering a martini tasting flight.

Kim designed the glass-walled distillery tasting addition in a “goldfish bowl” shape, which is adjacent to the restaurant. The room shimmers as the light reflects off the colored glass bottles and the gorgeous labels all created from her artwork. Each spirit is distinctively named from a mermaid or seafaring legends of yore.

Sculpture by Jeffro Uitto and Yoseph Adams
Sculpture by Jeffro Uitto and Yoseph Adams (Photo by Marguerite Garth)

The Gardens

Designed to resemble a Coast Guard station, the winery features a 40-foot lighthouse nestled in 15 acres of bucolic gardens. The gardens feature more than 60 original sculptures by local artists commemorating each of the winery’s labels as well as different garden themes.

For example, the world famous grunge rock band, Nirvana has a wine label that is commemorated by a large driftwood replica of Kurt Cobain’s guitar created by Tokeland artist Jeffro Uitto.

In addition to Uitto, other artists whose sculptures are displayed in the sprawling gardens include  Yoseph Adams, Sherryl Jackson, Frank Ratte, Kim Malakoff, Nicole Demment, Mark Simbe, Mike Peterson, Peggy Kala Hubacker, Lora Malakoff, Carrie Larson, Abe Singer, Lisa Humbyrd Murphy, Beau Finley, Warren Heathers, Ernest Kunz, Kimmi Kerns, Tyler Hansen, Travis Highlander, Johnny and Darlene Camp, and David Thompson.

In the gardens, as well as enjoying all the flowers, plants and sculptures, guests can navigate a labyrinth, toss some horseshoes, play a game of wizard chess, take on nine holes in the free orchard golf course or play the unique disc golf course, which includes “holes” that create musical tones when hit. There is something for everyone to enjoy – even pets.  Leashed dogs can roam the dog garden and children love to play on the musical fence.

The Mermaid Museum

As if there weren’t enough to see and do already at Westport Winery Garden Resort, in April the International Mermaid Museum was added.

Live mermaid at museum grand opening. (Photo by Marguerite Garth)

The museum explores the mythological creatures that have appeared in folklore around the world for thousands of years. Some stories include these beautiful beings luring men to their death while others tell of mermaids rescuing shipwrecked men.

As a longtime diver, Kim has felt a bond with mermaids.  She says, “I even swim with the mermaid kick when I dive.” Growing up she says, “I either wanted to be a lighthouse keeper or be a mermaid,” and she has come close to achieving both goals.

The International Mermaid Museum’s mission is “to teaching ocean ecology from seashore to sea floor immersed in mermaid mythology unifying oceanic cultures.” 

“We’re pairing mermaid mythology with ocean ecology,” with the goal of making the museum more “approachable for kids and informative for adults.” Kim says. “I thought that we’ve had this wonderful life working on the ocean and in the ocean, and a lot of people don’t have the opportunity to do that. We wanted to share that underwater experience.”

The museum includes informative displays interspersed with mermaid mannequins floating overhead. Check the website for scheduled live mermaid performances.

As the museum’s founder, Kim says she heard the siren’s call to create the museum after undergoing cancer treatment. “Four years ago, it started to matter to me what I was leaving,” she says. “We didn’t know if I would still be here today. This is my legacy.”

Sculpture by Jeffro Uitto and Yoseph Adams

Live mermaid at museum grand opening.
(Photo by Marguerite Garth)

With enthusiasm and creativity still radiating from her and a winery, distillery, gift shop, restaurant, extensive gardens and now a museum successfully underway, one can’t help but wonder what new creative endeavor Kim and Blain might think up next! 

For more information about Westport Winery Garden Resort, explore the website at www.westportwinery.com
or call (360) 648-2224.

Open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily

Westport Winery Wines
Photo by Rick Moyer