I consider Oregon my home. I went to college there, met my husband there, and my children were born there. I love it to death. But the wine...not so much. Before people take too much offense, let me explain myself. I like white wine, and I’ve found some lovely whites from Oregon, but I Love red wine. I learned to love red wine while living in Italy; home to big, bold, meaty, juicy, tasty bottles of goodness. (Excuse me while I take a moment to close my eyes and let out a deep sigh.) Oregon is very pinot noir centric, and it is simply not my style of wine. The pinot noir grape is a sensitive thing. It prefers cool weather which is perfect for Oregon, but it is a very finicky grape. Its thin skin is susceptible to disease. It doesn’t like it when it’s too windy. It must be pruned just so. Maybe this is why it is such an expensive wine as well. I really want to love Oregon wine. If somebody would just point me in the direction of a deeper, bolder pinot noir, I would be more than happy to give it a taste.
In the meantime, I keep finding wines from Washington State that I’m quite happy with. Recently, I took a short road trip to Prosser and Walla Walla. I tasted approximately 50 wines over the course of two days. Yes, that’s a lot of wine, but I have become the queen of spitting in an effort to taste all I can and remain standing. (Advice to spitters: Don’t wear white and bring a clip to hold your hair back.) When you taste 50, or even 25 wines, at some point you have to take a step back and ask yourself, “Which ones do I remember? Which ones stand out from the crowd? Which ones would I spend my dollars on?” Of all the wineries and tasting rooms I visited, three stood out to me.
The first is Gamache Vintners whose tasting room is located at the Prosser Vintner’s Village. The Gamache family began planting grapes back in 1982 when there were just a few wineries in the whole state. Fast forward thirty years, and now there are more than 700 wineries in the state with more than 100 in Walla Walla alone. But the Gamache family got in on the ground floor. They produce small lots of wine, tending the grapes by hand. The care they take with the grapes and the knowledge of the winemakers show through in these beautifully crafted wines. www.gamachevintners.com
My second pick was from a tasting room located in downtown Walla Walla called Forgeron Cellars. Winemaker Marie-Eve Gilla sources grapes from vineyards in both Oregon and Washington to make her delicious wines. Here are wines that are really my style; deep and hearty. Barbera and Zinfadel were particularly delicious. www.forgeroncellars.com
My third choice was a winery outside Walla Walla called Castillo de Feliciana. Here in a Spanish style building, I tasted wines made by this family of Spanish heritage. Their tempranillo is delicious and the bottle of Cohones red table wine would make a wonderful everyday house wine. The wines here are not only tasty, but a great value and whoever does their artwork should be commended. www.castillodefeliciana.com
If you haven’t made your way to Walla Walla yet, I would highly recommend you do so. There are simply too many wineries to visit in a weekend, a week or even a month. (Well, maybe I could do it in a month….hmmm, a challenge.) Most people only manage a couple of wineries a day when they are consuming full samples. I managed to hit 10-12, tasting about 5 wines at each, in two days…..by spitting. Tasting by this method brings great joy and a little disappointment. After all, who wouldn’t love to taste so many wines, but at the end of the day you realize, you never got to sit down and simply enjoy a full glass of something. This is where wonderful downtown Walla Walla comes in. It is full of so many lovely places to eat. So at the end of a busy day of tasting, it is possible to have a relaxing evening eating a delicious meal and sipping a fabulous wine by the glass…the whole glass. What a great way to end the day!
Are you interested in a tour of Walla Walla wineries? I would love to escort you and your group on a trip to discover all the area has to offer. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org I will make all the arrangements including limo transportation, restaurant/hotel reservations, and wine tasting of course! Let me take you away.