Yippee! I just came back from a weekend of Walla Walla wine tasting. I’m very excited to share my experience with you. As I mentioned in my article a few weeks ago, reds rule the roost in this appellation, which is part of the larger Columbia Valley AVA.
So Much Wine, So Little Time
Walla Walla has more than 120 wineries. In our three days, we got to enjoy 11 of them. Here are the ones we went to:
- Long Shadows
- Caprio Cellars
- Woodward Canyon
- Isenhower Cellars
- Pepper Bridge
- Zerba Cellars
- Seven Hills Winery
- Forgeron Cellars
They were all fantastic. I will highlight some of our favorite moments below.
In addition to tasting great wine with Haley, which included their amazing 2017 Chester-Kidder red (64% Cab, 28% Syrah, 8% Petite Verdot!), we got a fantastic art show. The owner is friends with Dale Chihuly, the famous glass artist. So, in addition to trying Long Shadows’ great wines, we got to see Chihuly’s wonderful art.
Northstar is a part of Chateau St. Michelle. So they are part of a great family. They are known for their Merlot, which was excellent.
But the highlight of our Walla Walla wine tasting adventure at Northstar was a trip downstairs with Jan, tasting host extraordinaire, who showed us where they do their “Blending Experience.” I cannot wait to visit them again and participate in this wonderful adventure. Jan, by the way is 80 years old and doesn’t look a day over 64. I think there’s something to say about wine and ageing 🙂
This boutique winery serves beautiful dishes with every wine!!! And I truly mean beautiful. It is owner Dennis’ nona who gave him the reason to serve food. Wine is meant for food! And the pairings were brilliant. Our pourer Linda was brilliant too, as was the wine.
By the way, they put their recipes on their website at the end of each month!
My favorite wine from this lovely Walla Walla winery was their 2020 Estate Reserve Bordeaux blend. Interestingly, Cab and Merlot account for only 64% of the wine. Cab Franc represents 24% of the wine, while Malbec and Petit Verdot each account for 6%.
Susan was our wonderful leader at this winery. By day, she is a fundraiser for Whitman College. In her off-hours, she works at the winery! She is adorable, as were the other folks we met there.
One of my favorite wines at Isenhower is their 2018 Children’s Cuvee, which is 71% Cabernet, 19% Cabernet Franc and 10% Petite Verdot.
They feature a talented artist named Squire Broel on their labels. Quite lovely.
Not surprising from the name, this winery is in what used to be a school.
What they say on their website is a great description of who they are: “Our focus is on terroir-driven, distinctive, and expressive wines that reflect the unmistakable typicity of Washington State and the Walla Walla Valley. This is achieved by our over forty years of winemaking experience combined with dedicated, long-term relationships with some of the oldest and most proven vineyards in the Walla Walla and Columbia Valleys.”
We tried three Cabernets, and they were all great.
They pronounce their name Tronch. It is a French word meaning slice, and their “wine, in a way, is a slice of life…”
Their wine is great, and their labels are quite wonderful. We especially liked their Pape wines, which use the grapes from Chateauneuf du Pape (Southern Rhone region of France), including Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah and Cinsault for reds and Marsanne, Roussane, Viognier, Picpoul, Clairette Blanche and Grenache Blanc for whites.
Tranche wine label
The reason my friend Alexandra and I went on this trip was to attend the wine dinner at Pepper Bridge where the chef is my friend’s dear friend and vegan chef extraordinaire Miyoko. We were wined and dined to the Nth degree. We were in seventh heaven. Two of the highlights were the amazing mushroom dish that was the main course and the dessert that was a basil panna cotta with berries. OMG.
My friend Alexandra was in seventh heaven at this winery, because they had all the makings for an SMG (Syrah/Mourvedre/Grenache). So she went to town buying all the ingredients and is looking forward to playing wine chef at home!
Before going into the winery, we got to enjoy their vineyards. We noticed that all the grapes grow at the bottom of each vineyard. They said that is pretty common. I’ll have to pay more attention at other vineyards.
Seven Hills Winery
Seven Hills was established in 1988 and is one of the founding estates of Walla Walla.
Denise and Renaldo took care of us brilliantly here. Denise has done Walla Walla wine tasting for 15+ years, and she is just a wealth of knowledge. We’re looking forward to coming up again and doing a private tour with her.
We loved their wines. One of the highlights for me was their Carmenere. I’m not a fan of that grape. A friend of mine is always trying to get me to like it. He’ll be thrilled to know that I really liked Seven Hills’ Carmenere. It wasn’t the bottle I bought. But it was very yummy.
For Alexandra, Forgeron was a “save the best for last” Walla Walla wine tasting experience! She knows she is going to come back and meet the winemaker. She was madly in love with every wine she tried here, from the Viognier to the Barbera to the Malbec to the Cabernet Franc to the Syrah. And our host poured us a few extras. What a treat.
If you’re looking for some great reds and a great time, definitely schedule a Walla Walla wine-tasting experience. You will be very happy.