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Winning Walla Walla Wines

Time:2017-02-09 15:11wine - Red wine life health Click:

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By Steve Mirsky Feb. 8th, 2017

Winning Walla Walla Wines

Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance

An oasis amid the vast sagebrush desert that rolls across much of America’s northwest interior, Walla Walla's longstanding appeal to those seeking a better life ranging from Native tribes & French fur trappers to farmers & vintners is most notably evident in the literal translation of its name ("many waters").  The Walla Walla Valley's rivers and aquifers that have fed the region's agricultural bounty for generations now also provide perfect growing for more than 100 wineries that source grapes from nearly 2,000 acres of local vineyard plots.

Winning Walla Walla Wines

Pepper Bridge Winery


In addition to water, Walla Walla, like other distinctive wine regions, is shaped by the extremes of a unique topography and terroir. Straddling state lines with two-thirds of its wine growing appellation in Washington and the other third in Oregon, elevations range from 400 to 2,000 feet above sea level.  Similarly, annual rainfall triples from a sparse 7 inches at the western end of the valley to a lush 22 inches among the Blue Mountains' foothills to the east.

Winning Walla Walla Wines

Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance


A unique mosaic of soils carpeting the appellation can be roughly divided into 4 major categories.  At the lowest elevations, dark basalt river gravel stones blanket fields absorbing the sun's warmth by day and then releasing it into well-drained iron rich soils at night. Fine, wind-blown silt called Loess is the next type that extends 2-4 feet deep in areas below 1,100 feet in elevation.  Beneath the Loess are coarser layers of sand and gravel deposited by glacial floods that swept through the region about 15,000 years ago.

Winning Walla Walla Wines

Pepper Bridge Winery


In the uplands above 1,100 feet, fine powdery dirt that's more than 8-10 feet deep constitutes Walla Walla's 3rd soil type.  Vines planted here send their roots far below producing grapes with pure, bright aromatics and flavors.  The final soil category mostly found on steep, southwest-facing hillsides consists of several inches of very fine wind-blown soil over ancient volcanic bedrock.

Here's a taste of what you can expect from 2 signature Walla Walla wineries that have capitalized on these unique growing conditions:

Winning Walla Walla Wines

Amavi Cellars


Amavi Cellars

Amavi Cellars' name signifies love (amor) and life (vita) and it shows in their wines made from 100% estate, certified sustainable Walla Walla Valley grapes. Located in the heart of Walla Walla wine country, their winery & tasting room offers sweeping views of surrounding Pepper Bridge Vineyard while Blue Mountains loom in the distance. The following varietals are a great example of Amavi's dedication to producing wines that showcase the region's distinct personality:

2015 Semillon -The 2015 growing season marked the latest in a trend of being the warmest on record with the last week of June experiencing the highest temperatures. Record-breaking heat yielded to cooler days and nights just in time for veraison allowing grapes to ideally develop a richly structured character. Actually a blend of 88% Sémillon and 12% Sauvignon Blanc, you get decisive mango on the nose and palate with a fruitiness that's far from overly cloying thanks to aging in 100% neutral French Oak. A uniquely aromatic bouquet is balanced by more bracing stone fruit providing a refreshing monster flavor experience. While brightly acidic, the mouth feel is surprisingly silky.

2013 Syrah -A temperate spring for this year yielded a typical mid-April bud break. Warm summer days continued into fall combined with cool nights setting conditions just right for developing Walla Walla's trademark acidity. This vintage is beautifully structured, ripe, and expressive with peppery dry pineyness poking through on the palate. Clarity on the first sip with complexity building thanks to brambleberry figuring prominently on the mouth feel along with complex tannins and a lengthy finish. A touch (4%) of Grenache kicks in some berry and plum notes while aging in 86% neutral and 14% new oak barrels defines its elegant finish.

Winning Walla Walla Wines

Pepper Bridge Winery


Pepper Bridge Winery

Being one of the first wineries established in the Valley, Pepper Bridge best exemplifies Walla Walla's pioneering spirit. Currently owned and operated by the McKibbens, Goffs, and Pellets, these 3 families that have made big investments in wine making technology and vineyard management at Pepper Bridge over the last 20 years.  They have also lead the region into the distinguished category of world class wine production. The following wines superbly demonstrate Pepper Bridge's core principles of crafting elegant yet balanced estate wines:

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