Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Walla Walla Wrap!


While having nightcaps at 26 Brix we met a great guy named Frank who is a vineyard developer- nice job hu? Frank was telling us about this property he was working on in the Blue Mountain and offered to take us on a tour the next day. Poor Frank was also doing shots with a guy from Texas so the next morning he wasn't feeling all that great but still rang us up and told us to meet him.

The vineyard was gorgeous! Sitting on top of Blue Mountain with 360 degree views of the Walla Walla valley. Much of the grounds were new plantings with others still young.

We headed back into town for lunch and after finding everything we had marked down closed on Sunday we ended up at Luscious by Nature for the second day in a row, it was good though and they have different specials each day.

Two quick stops on the way out of town at Reininger and L'Ecole and then it was on the road home with our trunk full of wine!
All photos here!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Walla Walla Wine Trip, Day 2

On Saturday we had a leisurely breakfast at our B&B -- our hostess was sick, so a friend was substituting as cook -- and then went back to the beautiful Waters Winery, which shares space with Gramercy where we'd been the night before. They make some fantastic wines; we especially enjoyed their 2006 Syrah (we both have a weakness for syrahs anyway) and their 2007 rosé.

After Waters, we drove out towards the Walla Walla airport, where quite a few wineries have set themselves up on land that was previously a military base. Many of the smaller and newer wineries are just using the old barracks or other existing buildings; our first stop, Dunham Cellars, was fortunate to have the use of a remodeled airplane hanger, which is a fantastically roomy space. I'd seen Dunham's 'Three-Legged Red' in several stores, mostly because I'm a sucker for a cute dog on a label. For some reason I hadn't really established in my mind the fact that the maker was in Walla Walla. When I discovered that Dunham was one of the wineries we were going to visit, I was looking forward to meeting Port, the famous 3-legged border collie.

We drove up to Dunham and were promptly greeted by a border collie named Maysy (with four legs) who made it very clear that I was expected to throw a tennis ball for her, but Port was nowhere to be seen.



After a couple of tosses of the ball, we went in to taste. I saw a table set off to the side with several bundles of flowers on it, along with pictures of Port. When I went over to get a closer look, I saw the note: Port had passed away the week before, at the age of 13; the flowers and pictures were a memorial. I know I never knew Port, but that news was devastating to me for some reason. He was obviously well loved and had a good life at and around the winery, but it's still terrible for anyone to lose a friend.

Dunham's wines were great, but we can get several of them locally already, so we settled on just one bottle of the '04 Cab-Sauv 'X', and two of their '04 Syrah.

Eventually we moved on to Buty. We'd heard good things, but didn't actually find their wines particularly to our liking. It didn't help that they were in one of the smallest of the older military buildings, and it was warm and muggy.


After a brief stop at the ultra-small 428, we left the airport area and went to one of the highlights of the day, K Vintners. It's hard not to like K; they have a beautiful winery, a fun attitude (the White Stripes were blasting out of the back when we were there), and best of all, fantastic wines.


Before headi
ng back into town, we stopped in for a pre-arranged appointment at Abeja. Built on the grounds of an old, restored and modernized farm, Abeja is both a B&B and a working winery. Somewhat predictably, their wines tend to be a little on the high-priced side of things, but we still managed to leave with a few!

We stopped in Walla Walla at the magic-themed Sleight of Hand Cellars, and then were back out in the direction of Waters again, but this time to visit Va Piano. Our hostess
was obviously tired after a long day of dealing with wine limos; we felt bad for her!

After that it was a change for dinner at Saffron, an after-dinner drink at 26 Brix again, then bed for a well-deserved slumber.


Monday, May 12, 2008

Wine Weekend in Walla Walla

We took our first road trip to Walla Walla this weekend to do a bit of tasting and some shopping. Have never been this far east in the wine country I was really looking forward to the trip. The weekend was also their annual Balloon Stampede but we only saw a few the first night driving into town. I guess the balloons go up real early in the morning, we aren't really the morning types so...

Our friend Abra has mentioned many times Glondo's in Cle Elum as the place to stop for beef jerky for the drive to Walla Walla so that is exactly what we did. We actually got their beef jerky and some pepperoni sticks. The beef jerky is so thick and meaty, you can see the smoke ring around the meat. My car's jockey box has a small cooler built into the back of it and this became the meat box for the weekend!

Although it is not in Walla Walla I wanted to stop at Kiona on the way as I hadn't been there for about 12 years and the last time I tasted it was in the finished basement of their house! They have come a long way! They have a brand new HUGE tasting facility with amazing views of the surrounding area and Red Mountain AVA which is becoming known around the world for it's fantastic grapes. We also stopped at Goose Ridge cellars which I had read a little about as they are all estate fruit and make some very nice and affordable wines.

Back on the road we checked in to our B&B quickly changed and were out the door to a private meeting with Greg Harrington at Gramercy Cellars. I have wanted to meet Greg for some time so was super excited! Greg is the youngest person in the states to pass his Master Sommelier Exam at the age of 26 and has directed the wine programs for Emeril's and Wolfgang Puck's restaurants. He and his wife moved from New York and started Gramercy in 2004. We met him and a friend of his who was visiting from Finland where he writes and teaches about wine. These two were so interesting to taste with, so much knowledge and passion for the wine! Greg had us taste from barrels and then we created a few blends which was really fun. After we stepped outside and tasted a few of his bottled wine. This is good stuff, get it if you can! The 05 Lagniappe Syrah was especially delicious as was the amazing 21 Grams Cab- a collaboration of Greg and Jamie's (winemaker for Waters) cabs bottled together. They only make 75 cases of this and Greg was so nice to send us on our way to dinner at 26Brix with the barely opened bottle!

Wonderful dinner at 26Brix and great cocktails after in their bar. A good start to the weekend!