Four Walla Walla Wineries worth a Visit



By Kori ~ January 12th, 2009.

20090112_baselIn the process of cleaning up my desk and purging my files over the holidays, I found notes from four Walla Walla, Washington, wineries that we visited in October on the same weekend we took our vineyard tour with Rich Funk of Saviah Cellars. These four were wineries that we had not had a chance to visit on our previous trip in July. Waters Winery, Gramercy Cellars, Basel Cellars, and L’Ecole No. 41 are all great wineries to visit so I decided to go back through my notes and do a recap now.

Waters Winery was founded in 2005 by Jason Huntley. Winemaker Jamie Brown came on board and their first vintage was released in 2006. Waters boasts a beautiful state-of-the-art winery facility and tasting room that opened in 2007. They currently produce about 3,800 cases per year and plan to stay at that level. Of the wines we tasted on this visit, our favorite was their 2005 Waters Cabernet Sauvignon. In a previous tasting, we rated their 2005 Waters Pepper Bridge Syrah very highly (Quality: 4.5, QPR: 5).

Gramercy Cellars shares winery facilities and a tasting room with Waters Winery. Winemaker Greg Harrington and his wife Pam founded Gramercy Cellars in 2005. Greg became the youngest American to pass the Master Sommelier Exam at the age of 26. While working as a sommelier, he knew that he wanted to make his own wine someday, and now he is realizing that dream through Gramercy Cellars. Their current production level is 750 cases per year.

20090112_bluemtnsBasel Cellars is located on a picturesque 87-acre wine country resort. Their estate houses the winery, tasting room, vineyards, gardens, and luxurious overnight accommodations. From the tasting room and adjacent patio, guests are treated to breathtaking views of the Blue Mountains. Founded in 2002, Basel Cellars is currently owned by the Basel and Hansen families and produces 6,500 cases per year. We really enjoyed both their 2005 Basel Cellars Syrah and their 2005 Basel Cellars Estate Merriment Red Wine.

20090112_lecoleL’Ecole No. 41, founded in 1983, is the Walla Walla Valley’s third-oldest winery. It remains a family-owned operation with current owners Megan and Martin Clubb, the daughter and son-in-law of founders Jean and Baker Ferguson. Located in the historic Frenchtown schoolhouse (L’Ecole is French for “the school”) just west of Walla Walla, L’Ecole No. 41 is a unique wine country destination. They currently produce about 30,000 cases annually. Our favorite of the wines we tasted was their 2005 L’Ecole Seven Hills Vineyard Estate Perigee (Red Blend).

Here’s a breakdown of the wines that we tasted. Under each Quality heading, the wine name and region will be listed along with price and QPR rating.

Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
2005 Basel Cellars Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $28, QPR: 4
2005 Basel Cellars Estate Merriment Red Wine, Walla Walla Valley, $48, QPR: 2
2005 L’Ecole Seven Hills Vineyard Estate Perigee (Red Blend), Walla Walla Valley, $49, QPR: 2

Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
2006 L’Ecole recess red, Columbia Valley, $17, QPR: 4
2005 L’Ecole Columbia Valley Merlot, Columbia Valley, $29, QPR: 4
2005 Basel Cellars Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $36, QPR: 4
2005 L’Ecole Walla Walla Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $36, QPR: 4
2007 L’Ecole “Walla Voila” Chenin Blanc, Columbia Valley, $14, QPR: 3
2005 Gramercy Cellars Lagniappe Syrah, Columbia Valley, $32, QPR: 3
2006 L’Ecole Seven Hills Vineyard Estate Merlot, Walla Walla Valley, $36, QPR: 3
2006 L’Ecole Seven Hills Vineyard Estate Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $36, QPR: 3
2005 Waters Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $45, QPR: 3
2006 Gramercy Cellars Inigo Montoya Tempranillo, Walla Walla Valley, $30, QPR: 2
2005 L’Ecole Pepper Bridge Vineyard Apogee (Red Blend), Walla Walla Valley, $49, QPR: 1

Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
2006 Basel Cellars Claret, Walla Walla Valley, $20, QPR: 4
2005 Basel Cellars Estate Merlot, Walla Walla Valley, $28, QPR: 2
2007 L’Ecole Seven Hills Vineyard Estate Luminesce (White Blend), Walla Walla Valley, $19, QPR: 1
2005 Basel Cellars Inspired (Red Blend), Columbia Valley, $40, QPR: 1

Quality: 2.5 stars (out of 5)
2007 Basel Cellars Forget-Me-Not White Wine, Columbia Valley, $18, QPR: NR
2007 Waters Viognier, Columbia Valley, $20, QPR: NR
2006 Waters Interlude Red Wine, Walla Walla Valley, $30, QPR: NR
2006 Waters Syrah, Columbia Valley, $30, QPR: NR


Filed under: American Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc, Merlot, Red Wine, Shiraz/Syrah, Tempranillo, Viognier, Washington State Wine, White Wine, Wine Travel, Wines NOT To Buy (1 & 2 Star), Wines Over $25, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

Reader's Comments

  1. Sharon | August 12th, 2011 at 11:12 am

    This blog was super helpful for us! Thanks

  2. Kori | August 12th, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Sharon,
    Glad to hear it. Happy to help. Cheers!

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