A Legacy of Adventure and Vitality
The Gilbert family’s roots in Yakima begin in 1897, when Horace Mark “H. M.” and Marion Gilbert—adventurers, doers, and visionaries—move with their children from Illinois to Washington State. Marion leaves behind a teaching post to build a Victorian-style home in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest. H. M. leaves a career in corn farming and hog ranching to try his hand at fruit growing….
1897 | H. M. and Marion buy 20 acres of sagebrush in Yakima for $50 an acre.
1898 | H. M. and Marion clear the land, build a barn, plant their first orchard and vineyard, and, over the next decade, have a 13-room Victorian-style farmhouse constructed with plans from a mail-order catalog. It has an outhouse and, eventually, a gazebo and tennis courts.
1900s | H. M. partners with numerous family members in various land developments and business ventures, including a bank and hardware store in nearby Toppenish. H. M. makes a weekly 40-mile round-trip commute to Toppenish by train.
1910 | H. M. and Marion buy 160 acres in Yakima to plant with apples, pears, and peaches.
1913 | H. M. and Marion, who view travel as education, take the kids on a six-month trip through Europe and Asia. (Marion valued travel and paid for the trip with proceeds from her 1912 peach crop that she and Curtiss managed near their homestead.)
1918 | H. M. and Marion’s eldest son, Curtiss R. Gilbert, returns to Yakima from the trenches of WWI and devotes himself to starting a family, exploring the Goat Rocks Wilderness, Scouting, and leading the next generation of Gilberts in farming and fruit-growing.
1920 | H. M. and Marion buy the Hackett Ranch and plant 350 of its acres with orchards.
1925 | H. M. and Marion explore South America with many of their seven kids in tow.
1929 | H. M. and Marion travel by ship to South Africa without the kids.
1931 | Marion takes a trip around the world, traveling solo.
1934 | H. M. passes away at age 72. Marion stays on at Gilbert Homeplace.
1934–1945 | Marion and the extended Gilbert clan in both Washington and Illinois pull together to see the family businesses through the Great Depression.
1946 | Curtiss R. teams up with two other scoutmasters to take 18 Boy Scouts on what becomes Yakima legend—an epic road trip across America in a pickup truck.
1947 | Curtiss R. passes away, age 53.
1948 | Cragg D., son of Curtiss R. and Anne (Richey) Gilbert, returns from WWII and college to run the family businesses.
1949 | The former hiking buddy of Curtiss R., Yakima native Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, has the highest point in Washington State’s Goat Rocks Wilderness—Gilbert Peak—named in Curtiss R.’s honor.
1951 | Marion passes away, age 84. Gilbert Homeplace is sold to new owners who spend the next 30 years maintaining the property.
1959 | The family hikes Gilbert Peak together to commemorate the tenth anniversary of its dedication to Curtiss R.
1969 | Second commemorative Gilbert Peak hike.
1972 | Surgeon-turned-fruit grower George Stewart plants two dozen acres of vines amid what becomes Doc Stewart Vineyard in the Wahluke Slope AVA—today one of the top viticultural areas in the state.
1979 | Third commemorative Gilbert Peak hike.
1982 | The Gilbert family buys back Gilbert Homeplace and, with the help of the newly formed Friends of Gilbert Homeplace, donates it to the Yakima Valley Museum.
1982–2001 | Doc Stewart Vineyard is planted with Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Petit Verdot, and Malbec.
1989 | Fourth commemorative Gilbert Peak hike.
1997 | 120 Gilbert family members and friends turn out for the centennial celebration of H. M. and Marion’s move to Yakima back in 1897. A record 74 of them scale Gilbert Peak.
1999 | The Gilbert Peak commemorative hike becomes an annual summer tradition.
2002 | Curtiss R. and Anne’s (aka Grannie Annie) grandsons, Curtiss M. and Cragg M., buy Doc Stewart Vineyard from the Stewart family. Curtiss M. produces the first Gilbert Cellars wine for Gilbert family consumption.
2003 | Sunrise Vineyard is established on the Hackett Ranch and planted with Riesling.
2004 | A small group of Gilberts form a new winemaking venture as Gilbert Cellars, under the leadership of Cragg M.’s sons, Sean and Nate. Sean acts as the company’s first general manager and Nate as its first winemaker.
2005 | Sunrise Vineyard is planted with Gewürztraminer.
2007 | Curtiss M. and Cragg M. plant 24K Vineyard with Grenache, Mourvèdre, Tempranillo, and Cabernet Franc. Curtiss M.’s daughter Meg Gilbert joins the family wine business, hand selling wine in the Seattle market. Justin Neufeld joins Gilbert Cellars as head winemaker.
2008 | Nine Canyons Vineyards is planted with Carménère, Mourvèdre, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Grenache, Nebbiolo, and Malbec. The Gilbert Cellars Tasting Room opens in Yakima on the cusp of downtown revitalization.
2009 | Sunrise Vineyard is planted with Chardonnay and more Gewürztraminer. Laura Rankin, niece of Curtiss M. and Cragg M., joins Gilbert Cellars as Tasting Room Manager and Cellar Gallery Curator.
2010 | Peach 10 and Tissel vineyards are planted with Chardonnay. Meg Gilbert travels to New Zealand to work the harvest in Marlborough as part of the WWOF program for four months.
2011 | Nine Canyons Vineyard is planted with Bordeaux varietals. Jessica Moskwa joins Gilbert Cellars as general manager.
2012 | Curtiss M. retires from Gilbert Orchards.
2014 | Gilbert Cellars marks its tenth vintage, launching the Gilbert Peak label to celebrate a decade of winemaking.