Wine – Day 2 in Walla Walla

04172007.jpgOK, this is going to be a bit of a long post… Today dawned beautiful and sunny in Walla Walla, which was a beautiful change from our arrival last night. This place is a little slice of wine geek heaven if you feel like making the drive.

The 2 photos today are of the lovely Rachel posing in front of the L’Ecole No.41 and Reininger Wineries.

After a quick breakfast at the Coffee Connection on Main Street (friendly service, good lattes and pancakes, by the way), we hit up Dama Wines just down the street.

It looked more like a very stylish city cafe or wine bar than a tasting room. We kinda stumbled in there (it wasn’t open, but the door was unlocked) and Mary enthusiastically greeted us and told their story – pretty cool: a couple of women (with an obviously great design aesthetic) who started up a business as negotiants, rather than making their own wines. They also provide a portion of the money they make to help women in the local oenology program as well as the local YWCA. Check out the tasting room if you’re in town.

From there, we headed to Waterbrook Winery’s tasting room just down the street. They poured some really nice wines, but we knew there was plenty of great stuff ahead.

After that we headed out to the airport area, which looks to be a former air base converted into an airport and industrial area. Seriously… it’s kinda’ weird out there. You’re right by the airport and there’s a bunch of sheds lined up in rows – very milataristic. Our first stop was Russell Creek. I actually had their Tributary a while back and had loved its Bordeaux blend complexity.

The owner, Larry Krivoshien, is a transplanted Canadian. I liked his no-bullshit, I do things my way approach to the wines… and to be honest, pretty much loved what he poured. I had to pick up a bottle of his 2005 Sangiovese (tasting notes coming soon) and his 2003 Winemaker’s Select Cabernet Sauvignon. It had great complexity, fruit and a finish that actually built as I stood there… and lasted a minute. Well worth picking up for the trip home, thank you very much.

Next up was Dunham Cellars. Hannah, in the tasting room was great… and I’ve gotta’ love folks who feature dogs on their labels. We’ve got the “Three Legged Red” up in Vancouver… and it really is pretty tasty for the money ($19 USD). We also really liked the 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon IX.

04172007a.jpgAfter a stop at the amusingly named “Cheese Louise“, we headed out of town a bit and hit the beautiful Reininger Winery. It was the first winery we had visited down here that kinda’ looked like a typical Napa/Sonoma, well-put-together facility. It was in a gorgeous setting (see the photo to the right). After tasting some really good wines (the 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, 2002 Merlot, Walla Walla Valley and the 2003 Helix Pomatia, Columbia Valley), Justin (great guy!) took us on tour of the winery, which was completely appreciated. It’s a beautiful spot.

We kept going on down the road and stopped at L’Ecole No.41 (the 3rd winery to have opened in the area). The winery is housed in an old schoolhouse. It’s a great-looking place… Both of us had drunk their wines in the past and loved them, so this was one we had been looking forward to visiting. In the tasting room, Brooke took us through the wines with knowledge and enthusiasm. Everything we tasted was “buy-worthy”. Our buys here were the 2004 Columbia Valley Merlot and the 2004 Seven Hills Vineyard Estate Syrah (which was spectacular). Go there. You won’t be disappointed.

Right next door is the 2nd winery to have opened in the Walla Walla area (Leonetti Cellars was the first), Woodward Canyon Winery. This is another winery whose wines I have tasted in the past and wow, I wasn’t disappointed.

Their plain red blend was great for the money ($17 USD), while their 2000 Columbia Valley Merlot and 2004 Columbia Valley Syrah called for my VISA card. All three left the shop in my shopping bag. They have some wines that have achieved cult-like status and I’m sure it’s worth searching them out. They just seem to make damn good stuff.

Thats it for day 2 down here. I’ll post some targeted tasting notes next.