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Walla Walla Vintners

Hand-crafted premium reds from old-school winemakers

Pioneering winemakers Myles Anderson (right) and Gordy Venneri (left) have resisted the pressure to grow. They have kept their production small to continue attention to detail, high quality and consistency. Despite the hands-on treatment grapes and wine receive, one of their goals is to keep prices reasonable, below comparable wines. Their wines receive medals and awards, and sell out quickly. As home winemakers for 15 years in Myles' basement, they knew where they were headed. Their winery was bonded in 1995 (the eighth bonded winery in the Valley), on the cusp of the Walla Walla wine industry.

Winemaker Bill vonMetzger (top) has worked for WWV for 14 years. He enrolled in the wine program at Walla Walla Community College in 2002; Myles was the director of the program. Stan Clark (an early winemaker who also worked at the school at the time) was instrumental in setting up an internship at Walla Walla Vintners for Bill. He was there for the first harvest in 2002 and hasn't left. Working closely with Myles, Gordy, and Judah Pira (Director of Vineyard Operations, left), he oversees every step from grape clusters arriving to bottling the wine. Judah also attended the Walla Walla Enology and Viticulture program and worked as the enologist at Long Shadows.

They have stayed with their original focus on red wines, and have never made a white. Their Cabernet Franc and Sangiovese are two of their most popular wines, and they currently make 1000 cases of each, up from 750 cases. They've recently made 75 cases of as-yet-unreleased Carménère. Other reds made are their Cuvee, Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre (GSM), Malbec, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Dolcetto, Bello Rosso; they have 20+ separate labels. They experiment: sometimes those wines are one-offs, sometimes they reappear again. Their total annual output is between 7500-8000 cases. The majority of their wine sales take place at their tasting room alongside the vineyard in Walla Walla. Their wine club, started three years ago, has gone from 250 members to over 900.

A quarter of their total production comes from 11 acres of planted vineyard where no irrigation is used; they also source grapes from commercial growers in the Walla Walla Valley as well as throughout the Columbia Valley. Fruit is hand-harvested and punched down by hand. "It's old-school winemaking," says Bill. "We have a small in-house lab, and also have some lab work done at ETS Laboratories located at the college. Our wines live the majority of their lives in barrel. We taste them lot by lot in barrel, cherry-picking individual barrels we like and using them in blends." They are committed to sustainable winemaking and "leaving the soil in better shape."

Walla Walla Vintners is located on a Mill Creek plateau with the Blue Mountains beyond, overlooking the Walla Walla Valley. It's a lovely, calm place to visit and taste. There are picnic tables and a wood-fired pizza oven (they traded wine for it and use it on special occasions). The rustic building is meant to fit in with the countryside, shaped like a barn as a nod to the agricultural community. If you haven't visited before, take time to drive out and savor the view, the family-feel of the winery, and some great wines.

 

Walla Walla Vintners
225 Vineyard Lane
Walla Walla, WA 99362
509-525-4724

www.wallawallavintners.com

Check website for tasting room hours

Connie Adams/July 2016


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