This week Andy and I took a little road trip across the state to Walla Walla with friends to visit some of the award winning vineyards that call the valley home. After 3 days of sampling wines we are proud members of the stained tooth society. Crest White Strips anyone?
At the base of the Blue Mountains in the Southeast corner of Washington State sits the fertile Walla Walla Valley, home to over 100 wineries planted with over 1800 acres of grapes. Winemaking began in the 1850's when recent immigrants grew grapes to make their own homemade wines. However it wasn't until 1977 that the first commercial winery was established and then again not until 1984 was the region recognized as an American Viticulture Area. The region produces 20 varietals, including such novel grapes as Cinsault, Dolcetto, Barbera, Malbec, and Tempranillo. What these vineyards are really known for though are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah.
Coming soon to a glass near you.
To plan out your trip you can do a little research online, go into town and wander around (there are plenty of tasting rooms on Main street), or if you are as lucky as we are, meet up with friends who live there and enjoy the benefits of their wisdom.
Thanks M and B for your guidance
We started out on day one visiting their favorites:
L'Ecole No. 41 Tasted a surprising Chenin Blanc that was truly summer in a glass
Waterbrook Sangiovese Rose, a dry wine with Berry and Melon
Dusted Valley Squirrel Tooth Alice, not a great wine but a great label and name.
Zerba This gem of a winery boasts some really big wines. We purchased their Syrah, Tempranillo, Sangiovese, and 2 dessert wines, a Late Harvest Syrah, and Late Harvest Syrah Port. Mariah Donahue (no relation) was a most delightful host that afternoon showing us the cave, and generally charming us into buying a lot of wine. The big pours didn't hurt either.
Some of Zerba's award winners!
The Cave at Zerba
Next up was Otis Kenyon worth a trip to hear the story behind the name and to sample their Matchless Red, or so I heard. I quit "sampling" at this point. I had reached my saturation point which was a little north of tipsy.
Last but not least was Fort Walla Walla guest taster M pronounced this his favorite winery of the day. I do believe he bought a bottle of something red but I was done and was more focused on something to put in my belly other than wine.
A nice grilled Rib Eye from Back Stage Bistro put things right, a bit of Ibuprofen (preventative of course) and an early night wrapped up day one.
Chocolate carnage after a day of wine tasting
Day Two dawned bright and early. After a little fortification in the form of caffeine, we set off this time out toward the airport where there are numerous tasting rooms.
Tamarack Cellars Their Cab Franc, usually a blending grape, was really smooth and smoky.
Revelry Vintners Can I get a witness? I do not like Cabernet Sauvignon. I do not like it at all. As a testimony to how great their Cab Sav is, I bought 4 bottles.
5 Star Cellars 60% of women will buy a wine for it's label, they'll buy it a second time if the wine is good. We almost passed up this winery because of the label. Shallow I know, but we had also been drinking....Whether or not the boys at 5 Star rebrand their label I would buy another bottle of their Supernova. It is a wild blend of Petit Verdot and Cab Franc, crazy good.
Dunham Cellars Many temptations to be found, a dry Lewis Vineyard Riesling, a Late Harvest Riesling which thankfully wasn't cloyingly sweet and a refreshing cherry popsicle of a Syrah.
Syzygy When the Earth, Sun, and Moon align what do you get? One heck of a Syrah that's what.
DaMa Wines Polished, graceful wines with a Cowgirl spirit, that's DaMa-nation! Love the Cowgirl Cab and their Columbia Valley Cab. Hmmm, maybe I like Cab Sav after all.....
Our friends continued on tasting at Trust and Stephenson Cellars but I, again, needed to put an end to my tasting for the day. Visions of public tipsiness are an excellent restraint.
Cabernet Sauvignon Vines
Today, day three, we packed up and headed for home stopping in the Horse Heaven AVA area near Prosser Washington to check out some highly recommended wines. We stopped at Terra Blanca, Alexandria Nicole and Coyote Canyon for whites. Sauvignon Blancs, Un-Oaked Chardonnays, and Albarinos rounded out our other purchases.
All in all it was a wonderful few days with people we love, but it's good to be home. Well at least for the next 24 hours. Off to Miami Beach tomorrow.