Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Tribute to Dean Derby - Spring Valley Vineyard

Tribute to Dean Derby - Spring Valley Vineyard - Derby Cabernet Sauvignon

We were saddened to read the announcement from Spring Valley Vineyard of the passing of Dean Derby, patriarch owner proprietor of the family owned and operated SVV in Walla Walla, Washington.

According to their memo sent to wineclub members yesterday morning, "Spring Valley was built on the strong foundation of grit, authenticity, hard work, love for this land, and love for family. Papa Dean was the epitome of these values, and raised our family with the same strong foundation.' 

"Papa Dean passed away peacefully at home with family by his side Early morning on Friday, October 29. We will miss his larger than life smile (shaded by his cowboy hat), his storytelling, and so much more, but the memories we have of him will be shared forever.'

"Please raise a glass of Spring Valley with your family or friends, and cheers to my Papa Dean, a man who lived an amazing life and whose legacy will live forever!"

So, last night we opened a Derby Spring Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, namesake wine named for Dean Derby, and toasted Dean and our fond memory of meeting him.

I've written in these pages, and sent out an email to our wineclub that, one of the highlights of our trip to Walla Walla was when we had the pleasure of meeting Dean Derby during our visit to the vineyards during our Walla Walla Wine Experience in 2019

We ran into Dean Derby patriarch, husband to Shari Corkrum Derby, ancestor and co-owners of the family business.

As I wrote in that earlier blogpost, we drove north from Walla Walla, out Middle Waitsburg Road, around the Walla Walla airport, to Corkrum Road, aptly named for the early ancestors of the Spring Valley producer's family, to the winery and vineyard site. 

There we ran into Dean Derby patriarch, husband to Shari Corkrum Derby, ancestor and co-owners of the family business. What a treat and honor to meet Mr. Derby and what a delightful visit we had.

We encountered him on the driveway to his farm. As he approached us, I yelled out that we came out to see the site, that we were big fans of his wine. “We admire your artwork,” I said upon encountering him on the country farm. “It’s not my work, it’s the Lords!”, he exclaimed! What a delightful man, he was.


Linda followed up and appended my email with a note: "What an incredibly welcoming man he was. We were heading north to Spokane for a later flight and decided to go cross country near to where Rick thought was the Spring Valley Farm. It was beautiful. We were encountered by a man and his dog in a John Deere 4X4 who then engaged with his humble story of the farm not disclosing who he was nor what he did. Rick asked directly if this was his farm…the rest is now his personal eternal history as a man of God." 

Dean Derby moved to Walla Walla where he met Shari in the 6th grade at Sharpstein Grade School. Shari and Dean graduated from Walla Walla High School and attended the University of Washington in Seattle. Shari Corkrum and Dean Derby were married in 1954 and had two children, DeAnn Derby and Devin Corkrum Derby.

Dean Derby was football captain for UW. He still holds the record for longest run from scrimmage for a touchdown at Husky Stadium (92 yards against Illinois).

Dean was drafted into the NFL as the 1st pick of the 4th round by the Los Angeles Rams, then traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers for the 1st league game in September 1957. He was named All Pro Defensive Cornerback and played 4+ years with the Steelers and 1+ years for the Minnesota Vikings.

Dean and Shari planted wine grapes on the ranch in Spring Valley in 1993. The first wine – URIAH, a Merlot-based red blend was released in 2001. 

The Spring Valley Vineyards from a distance down Corkrum Road. 

The Spring Valley Vineyards adjacent to the farmstead site

 The Spring Valley Vineyards adjacent to the farmstead site

Toast to Dean, indeed. I am sure he will be missed immensely by family, friends and many of us distant followers. May he rest in peace. 

Spring Valley Vineyards Wines Portfolio
labels named for Corkrum Family Members
The Derby's devotion to family was profoundly apparent in their naming each of their wines for a member of the family. I write about their branding and the portfolio of the wines in many of my blogposts in these pages. 

We acquired one of the horizontal vintage release collections that featured a bottle of each of the labels that feature a family member. We've also had fun gifting this collectable OWC - Original Wood Case boxed set to folks on special family oriented occasions. 

Thank you, Kate Derby Raymond for thinking of us and reaching out and sharing the sad news. 

Linked referenced in this blog: