Weekend in the Walla Walla Valley AVA: A Tale of Two States



By Kori ~ September 13th, 2010.

We spent Labor Day Weekend visiting the Walla Walla Valley AVA. The Walla Walla Valley AVA was established in 1984 as Washington State’s third AVA. It encompasses areas in both Washington and Oregon. When you are visiting wineries and vineyards in the valley, it is easy to forget which state you are in. The lines become even more blurred when it comes to the wines themselves. You may have a Washington winery producing wine from Oregon grapes, an Oregon winery using Washington grapes, or a winery in either state blending fruit from both states. Thank goodness for the AVA system as it is easier to just say that a wine is from or a winery is in the Walla Walla Valley rather than concerning oneself with the state lines.

We arrived in Walla Walla, on Thursday afternoon, checked into our hotel, and then crossed the state line into Oregon for happy hour at Tero Estates. We sat outside in Windrow Vineyard and enjoyed the wines of Tero Estates and Flying Trout and visiting with Doug and Jan Roskelley and Ashley Trout.

On Friday morning, we headed back into Oregon for a visit to Seven Hills Vineyard. Managing partner Norm McKibben gave us a tour of the vineyard as well as the entire SeVein Vineyards project. We rounded out the day with visits to Plumb Cellars, Rotie Cellars, and Locati Cellars.

Saturday brought visits to Reynvaan Family Vineyards, Rasa Vineyards, and Adamant Cellars before rushing back to the hotel to watch my Washington Huskies play BYU in their opening game of football season. However, given their disappointing performance, it would have been more enjoyable to visit a few more wineries instead. After the ballgame, Dad (John) and I walked down to Vintage Cellars, a wine bar located in downtown Walla Walla, and tried a few more local wines by the glass. Vintage Cellars is a must-visit when you are in Walla Walla. Nicole Rivinius, the wine buyer for Vintage Cellars and also the Sales & Marketing Director for Rotie Cellars, was a great host. She stocks an excellent selection of Washington wines. So if you don’t have time to visit all of the individual wineries and tasting rooms in Walla Walla, Vintage Cellars is a great place to try and even buy some additional local wines. They also offer live music on most Monday and Saturday nights.

We only visited two wineries on Sunday, Trio Vintners and Tertulia Cellars, in order to enjoy a day of rest and watch more football on television. On Monday, we crossed the Oregon state line once again and visited Watermill Winery in Milton-Freewater. Then we headed for the Walla Walla airport area and visited the rest of the “incubator wineries” including Lodmell Cellars, CAVU Cellars, and Kontos Cellars.

On this trip, we toured one vineyard, visited 14 wineries, and tasted 63 wines. A quick look at the list of wines below will show that the standout wineries for us were Rasa Vineyards, Rotie Cellars, and Watermill Winery. In fact, we discovered another “Wow!” wine, the 2007 Rasa Vineyards Principia Reserve Syrah. It was a pleasure to meet so many wonderful people along the way. In the coming weeks, I will be writing in more detail about some of the wines and wineries that we encountered.

Here’s a breakdown of the wines that we tasted while visiting the Walla Walla Valley. Under each Quality heading, the wine name and region will be listed along with price and QPR rating. Wines in bold type received a QPR rating of 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5).

Quality: 5 stars (out of 5)
2007 Rasa Vineyards Principia Reserve Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $85, QPR: 5

Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
2007 Watermill Merlot, Walla Walla Valley, $24, QPR: 5
2008 Rotie Cellars Southern Blend (GSM), Horse Heaven Hills, $35, QPR: 5
2007 Rasa Vineyards QED (Syrah/Gren/Mourv), Walla Walla Valley, $50, QPR: 5

2008 Rasa Vineyards Vox Populi (Mourvedre), Minick Vineyard, Yakima Valley, $45, QPR: 4

Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
2006 Plumb Cellars Damn Straight Red Wine, Columbia Valley, $24, QPR: 5
2007 Watermill Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $24, QPR: 5
2007 Trio Vintners Sangiovese Riserva, Yakima Valley, $26, QPR: 5
2007 Trio Vintners Zinfandel, Wahluke Slope, $26, QPR: 5
2006 Kontos Cellars Merlot, Columbia Valley, $24, QPR: 5
2005 Lodmell Estate Merlot, Columbia Valley, $33, QPR: 5
2006 Tertulia Cellars Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills, $34, QPR: 5
2007 Kontos Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Pepper Bridge Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley, $36, QPR: 5

2007 Watermill Estate Malbec, Walla Walla Valley, $28, QPR: 4
2008 Watermill Estate Malbec, Walla Walla Valley, $28, QPR: 4
2008 PB Wines [Rasa] Red Mountain Kiona Vineyards (Syrah/Cab), Red Mountain, $29, QPR: 4
2007 Watermill Praying Mantis Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $30, QPR: 4
2008 CAVU Cellars Barbera, Horse Heaven Hills, $30, QPR: 4
2008 Rotie Cellars Northern Blend (Syrah/Viognier), Washington State, $35, QPR: 4
2009 Kontos Cellars Gossamer White (Chard/Viog/Rouss), Columbia Valley, $22, QPR: 3
2007 Tertulia Cellars Phinny Hill Carmenere, Horse Heaven Hills, $35, QPR: 3
2008 Tertulia Cellars Les Collines Tempranillo, Walla Walla Valley, $35, QPR: 3
2008 Reynvaan Unnamed Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $40, QPR: 3
2008 Rasa Vineyards QED (Syrah/Gren/Mourv/Viog), Walla Walla Valley, $50, QPR: 3
2008 Reynvaan The Contender Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $55, QPR: 2

Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
2008 Plumb Cellars Estate Sangiovese Walla Walla Valley, $12, QPR: 5
2008 Watermill Late Harvest Gewurztraminer, Walla Walla Valley, $14 (375ml), QPR: 5

2007 Plumb Cellars Syrah, Columbia Valley, $24, QPR: 4
2006 Lodmell Sublime (Cab/Merlot), Columbia Valley, $24, QPR: 4
2006 Flying Trout Sangiovese, Stillwater Creek Vineyard, Columbia Valley, $33, QPR: 4
2009 Trio Vintners Tres Rose (Mourv/Gren), Yakima Valley, $15, QPR: 3
2008 Watermill Viognier, Columbia Valley, $16, QPR: 3
2008 Rotie Cellars VdP (Syrah/Mourvedre), Washington State, $25, QPR: 3
2007 Locati Innovation (Barbera/Cab/Sangio), Columbia Valley, $25, QPR: 3
2006 CAVU Cellars Horizon Red Wine, Walla Walla Valley, $26, QPR: 3
2006 Kontos Cellars Alatus (Cab/Cab Franc/Merlot), Columbia Valley, $27, QPR: 3
2007 Adamant Cellars Nalin Red Wine, Columbia Valley, $27, QPR: 3
2007 Watermill Estate Petit Verdot, Walla Walla Valley, $28, QPR: 3
2007 Watermill Estate Cabernet Franc, Walla Walla Valley, $28, QPR: 3
2008 PB Wines [Rasa] Yakima Valley Syrah, Yakima Valley, $29, QPR: 3
2007 Tertulia Cellars Les Collines Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $30, QPR: 3
2008 CAVU Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley, $20, QPR: 2
2007 Trio Vintners Tempranillo, Walla Walla Valley, $26, QPR: 2
2006 Trio Vintners Mourvedre, Yakima Valley, $26, QPR: 2
2008 CAVU Cellars Malbec, Columbia Valley, $30, QPR: 2
2007 Kontos Cellars Petit Verdot, Columbia Valley, $32, QPR: 2
2008 Flying Trout The Brook Blend (Cab/Malbec/Petit Verdot), Horse Heaven Hills, $33, QPR: 2
2008 Reynvaan In the Rocks Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $45, QPR: 2
2008 Rotie Cellars Southern White (Viognier/Roussanne), Columbia Valley, $25, QPR: 1
2007 Tertulia Cellars Columbia Valley Malbec, Columbia Valley, $35, QPR: 1
2007 Tero Estates Windrow (Cab/Merlot/Cab Franc/Malbec), Windrow Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley, $45, QPR: 1

Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
2008 Lodmell Estate Saignee (Rosé of Merlot/Cab), Columbia Valley, $18, QPR: 2
2009 Plumb Cellars Estate Viognier, Walla Walla Valley, $18, QPR: 2
2006 Plumb Cellars Birch Creek Vineyard Merlot, Walla Walla Valley, $20, QPR: 2
2006 Lodmell Syrah, Alder Ridge Vineyard, Columbia Valley, $28, QPR: 2
2007 Locati Sangiovese, Rosebud Vineyard, Columbia Valley, $30, QPR: 2
2008 Tertulia Cellars Lonesome Springs Ranch Viognier, Yakima Valley, $19, QPR: 1
2009 Adamant Cellars Bijoux (Sauv Blanc/Sem), Columbia Valley, $20, QPR: 1
2008 Tertulia Cellars Lonesome Springs Ranch Grenache, Yakima Valley, $25, QPR: 1
2006 Locati Barbera, Lonesome Springs Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley, $26, QPR: 1
2009 Rasa Vineyards The Composer Riesling, Sagemoor Vineyards, Columbia Valley, $30, QPR: 1

Quality: 2.5 stars (out of 5)
2008 Locati Pinot Grigio, Rosebud Vineyard, Columbia Valley, $16, QPR: NR
2008 Lodmell Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley, $18, QPR: NR


Filed under: American Wine, Barbera, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Dessert Wine, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Five-Star Quality Wines, Gewurztraminer, Grenache, Malbec, Merlot, Mourvedre, Oregon Wine, Petit Verdot, Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris, Red Wine, Riesling, Rose Wine, Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz/Syrah, Tempranillo, Vineyards, 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, Zinfandel

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