Seattle Wine Blog

This blog is dedicated to commentary on all aspects of wine, especially short entries to help you find the best wines without the usual hype and spin. These are my frank, independent opinions, usually based on tasting wine at a public event, off the shelf or at the winery. "All creative acts must arise out of a specific soil and flicker with a spirit of place" -D.H. Lawrence

Monday, July 05, 2010

Walla Walla Dreamin'

Walla Walla dreamin' - sleep walking down Second or was it Rose or Main Street in the middle of the night, tasting the delicious 2008 WWV Roller Girl Red from SuLei, eating fabulous Burrito Lengue, the tongue Burrito from the Taco Truck, strawberries from Klicker's, possibly the best in Washington - so sweet. Walla Walla, a small banking center for an off-the-beaten-path farm community devoted to raising sweet onions and wheat, was transformed  into a wine and food Mecca in less than 20 years by pioneers such as Norm McKibbin who took the chance of converting his apple orchards into two of the best vineyards in the state - Pepper Bridge and Seven Hills. Speaking of sweet, we had a nice chat with Norm at Pepper Bridge winery. He is such an easygoing unassuming guy, just down home and obviously intelligent. He told the story of how he recruited and retained his outstanding winemaker, Jean Francois Pellet. Pellet has really settled in in Walla Walla, building himself a rather large vaguely Swiss looking home right in the middle of the vineyards. It turns out Jean Francois is no conservative Swiis banker type though, but a really cool adventurer who, if I remember correctly, has spent time in the Amazon and the Sahara. Lisa, the wine club manager is no slouch either. She has done her rounds on the race track! So the principals at Pepper Bridge show the same balance of excitement and order found at Cayuse, only on a much lower key. Speaking of low key, Debbie Hanson comes to mind. She and her husband come from long standing Walla Walla farm families and now own vineyards in the "Cailloux" right near Cayuse. In contrast to Christophe at Cayuse, she is an outstanding winemaker, but modest about her accomplishments. Cristophe, on the other hand, is a great winemaker and his own flamboyant self. The Norms and Deborahs and Christophes are the personalities that made Walla Walla what it is today. There are a huge number of excellent winemakers in Walla Walla today. There must be a hundred excellent wineries in Walla Walla. What a great venue for the third annual winebloggers conference #WBC10. For me, the highlights were the wine tasting events - wines from  Lake Chelan, Yakima Valley, Red Mountain, Australia, and Spain, even though I really would have preferred a Grand Tasting of Walla Walla wines. Fortunately we drove from Seattle so we were able to create our own Grand Tour of  excellent wineries not represented at the conference. To be continued...

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