The Hansens established Cougar Crest Winery in 2001. Both attended Washington State University in the 1970s and pursued careers in the San Francisco area. Deborah’s career was in pharmacy while David’s was in veterinary medicine. During the nearly two decades living in California, the couple visited wineries and became interested in making wine. They purchased an apple orchard in Walla Walla Valley and moved their family to Washington in 1996.
At that time, there were seven wineries in Walla Walla. Just like in California, the Hansens visited vineyards and wineries. They decided that they could replace some of their older apple trees with grape vines. Dave put his farming skills to good use, propagating vines from cuttings. The first vines were planted in 1997. Additional planting were made and now there is 60 acres of wine grapes growing on three vineyards.
Since they were growing grapes and had a science background, it made sense to make wine. Deborah and Dave took classes at UC Davis and the idea of starting a winery was born. While on tour in France, Deborah gave several of the winemakers we met a bottle of wine she made in Walla Walla. They were all graciously received.