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Sipping vinegar and stone carvers — two hidden gems in Tenino

Tenino is filled with hidden gems, and here are just two of them - a cohort of stone carvers, and a vinegar you drink. Sponsored by Experience Olympia & Beyond.

TENINO, Wash. — Tenino is a town of hidden gems, but two of them may make you do a double-take - namely, the large barn just off downtown that houses a group of people chipping away at stone.

These are the Tenino Stone Carvers, a group of artisans carrying on an age-old art.

Credit: Ellen Meny
The Tenino Stone Carvers are a group of artists continuing an age-old art.

The group is lead by Keith Phillips, a man who's been practicing the art since the 70s when he first arrived in Tenino.

The town has a rich history of stone carving, which makes sense because it's surrounded by sandstone. Some of Tenino is built from his rock, such as the downtown bank which was built in 1987. But Tenino's stone carving history dates much further back.

"That's Andrew Wilson, who came here in in 1912," says Phillips, pointing to a photo of the man hung high on the barn wall. "He came from Scotland. And he was an operative Mason. And first class. So we're all first-class guys here."

The stone carvers create whimsical art, take on custom projects, and craft pieces you'll see around Tenino. You can even take home a stone creation of your own if you visit their barn studio - just make sure to bring cash!

"It represents ages of specialized craftsmanship in stone," says Phillips, referring to stone carving. "And for Tenino, it adds to the character and the color of our town. It means hand-done work that comes from the heart.

Credit: KING 5
Wild Heart Sipping Vinegar is made by Sandstone Distillery.

Something else that comes from the heart in Tenino? Vinegar.

Sipping vinegar to be specific - Wild Heart Sipping Vinegar.

"This is organic apple cider vinegar with organic fruit juices and botanical spices," says owner Jenny Bourdon. "We take all that, we blend it together and then we cold age it. And then when we bottle it you basically have kind of an elixir in a bottle."

Wild Heart Sipping Vinegar started as a side project for Jenny Bourdon, a way to jazz up drinks at Sandstone Distillery, which she and her husband own together.

"I started making these as cocktail mixers that paired with our spirits," Bourdon explains.

They're not just for cocktails, though. You can also add them to seltzers to make a shrub, use them for marinades and salad dressing, or just drink them straight. Their most popular flavor is Pear Cardamom Rosemary.

"It's kind of like autumn in a bottle is what I tell people," Bourdon says. "But I love to cook with that one. So it goes in chicken and pork, roasted veggies. Sautéed veggies. Fantastic."

From carving stone to vinegar you can sip, Tenino is full of surprises.

Sponsored by Experience Olympia & Beyond. KING 5's Evening celebrates the Northwest. Contact us: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Email.

This project is supported by funding awarded by the U.S. Department of Treasury under the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds Award as provided by the American Rescue Plan Act. Points of view in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Grant funds are administered by Thurston County.