June 9, 2012 § Leave a comment
I recently just got back from vacation with my wife. I know it probably would seem that on our vacation we would try to get away from wine. Instead we decided that we had to see the new up and coming wine region of Walla Walla that we have been hearing so much about! As they say: “a town so nice they named it twice”. I thought it would only be right to include my experience there in my blog because it was so great!
We often hear that Sonoma County is what Napa use to be like. People talk about the rural setting and the fact that you may run into a winemaker or owner when you go tasting. I feel like Walla Walla my in fact be what Sonoma used to be like! The landscape is much different than that of Northern CA and the terroir is certainly different as well. If you have not been to this area of the country I definitely reccomend it! Ninety percent of the wine-growing region is east of the Cascade Mountain range in the least populated part of Washington State. It is know as a high desert plain and the soils are perfect for wine grapes. The temperatures drop significanlty at night (not quite the varieation we have) and the days are full sun and plenty of 90 degrees + days. One of the coolest things about this region is the fact that the vines are generally planted on their own rootstock because phylloxeria does not thrive in their soil types. The winters are much cooler than Napa/ Sonoma and the threat of frost is considerably worse than we have so growers typically bury canes to ensure a crop.
Now for my experience! We went to a handful of wineries on our trip including: Rasa, Fjellene, Abeja, Corliss, Gramercy, and Charles Smith to name a few. I thought the wines were outstanding for the most part. Definitely great tannin and ripeness yet very balanced and a strong sense of terroir. What was most pleasant for me, as a winemaker, was how many winemakers I met and getting to share stories/ ideas. On our stop at Fjellene, definitely a favorite, we tasted with Matt the owner winemaker. We loved the tasting room, the music, the views, and of course the dude! After an hour or so of tasting with Matt on he invited us to a Memorial Day BBQ! What a great time and we met several other winemaker there whom all brought a bottle or two of their wines to share. I luckly brought some Kokomo, Sonoma Coast, Pinot Noir and some Kokomo Dry Creek Valley, Grenache Rose to share and the response was really nice. We stayed at the Abeja Inn, which is also a winery, and it was stunning!
This was the highlight of my vacation this year and I have to say a big thank you to the folks in Walla Walla for making the Sonoma County winemaker feel so at home!! Much love to the Walla Walla and I will return!