By Kori ~ August 6th, 2008.
Watermill Winery is located in Milton-Freewater, Oregon, in the heart of the Walla Walla Valley AVA just 10 miles from downtown Walla Walla, Washington. Watermill Winery was founded in 2006 by the Brown family, a third generation apple-growing family and the owners of Blue Mountain Cider. Before launching their own winery, grapes grown by the Brown family were used for other prestigious wines from Northstar Winery, Seven Hills Winery, and Saviah Cellars. The Brown family owns some prized land in an area called “The Rocks” by the locals. They have pulled up some of their apple orchards to plant vineyards there, and there is potential for even more vineyards to be planted on their land in the future.
“The Brown family is well known in the area for producing ultra-premium fruit and their wine grapes are no exception.” –Rich Funk, winemaker
Even though Watermill is a new winery, the Browns are veterans when it comes to producing the highest-quality fruit. When you take the Browns’ superb fruit and pair it with the winemaking talents of Rich Funk, Watermill’s winemaker and also the owner and winemaker for Saviah Cellars, the results are outstanding. We have had the pleasure to taste Watermill’s wines on two recent trips to the Walla Walla Valley as well as had them in several blind tastings at home. Our favorite of their current releases is the 2005 Reserve Syrah, closely followed by the 2005 Syrah and the just-released 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon. Watermill’s expected production for 2008 is 4,500 cases.
With the facilities and infrastructure already in place with their cider business, Watermill is already a leg up on many other new wineries. They have stainless steel tanks, a high-end bottling/labeling machine, and a spacious barrel room. Their tasting room, located in the historic Watermill Building on the same property as their production facilities, also has a beautiful dining room, library, and kitchen which can be used for winery functions as well as rented for special occasions. They are also adding on a patio at the back of the building for entertaining and have plans to plant some vines adjacent to the building.
As if it is not enough that they produce great fruit, excellent wines, and have nice facilities, they are also wonderful people. Nancy (Brown) Kezele and daughter-in-law Kelli Kezele are the “faces” of Watermill Winery. They run the tasting room and oversee the facilities. Both ladies are so nice and welcoming. If you are in the Walla Walla Valley, be sure to stop by Watermill Winery for a truly memorable visit. And regardless of whether you are able to visit or not, try to get your hands on a bottle or two of Watermill wine and enjoy.
Filed under: American Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, Oregon Wine, Shiraz/Syrah, Spotlight On