Tag Archives: Charles Smith

Writing the rule book (Walla Walla Valley, Washington – Day Two)

As I mentioned in my previous post, the wine industry in Walla Walla is nothing if not progressive. A region that has really only been around for 15 years, they aren’t so much in a revolution as an evolution, not a renaissance but a birth. As Charles Smith said to me the previous day, there are no rules here. They are all just trying to figure out what does well here, and they are so far ahead of the curve it isn’t funny. Much like the winemakers in southern NSW these guys are getting access to amazing fruit in new viticultural areas and expressing wines that are both impetuous and yet refined. Is it any wonder that wine critics in Washington and the rest of the US are so excited about this place?

The Walla Walla Valley

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I’m so excited and I think I like it (Walla Walla, Washington – Day One)

Way down in the cocoon of Melbourne there isn’t a lot of North American wine available. It’s mostly either Californian, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, or Inniskillin. So in this environment I had no idea that the Walla Walla Valley is the most exciting place for wine in the entire United States. In doing research just before I came across I found a video of online wine phenomenon Gary Vaynerchuk stating that Walla Walla is the best region for wine, angering many in the Napa Valley. Having visited for the first time yesterday I am tempted to agree with him. The Walla Walla Valley had grapevines introduced by Italian migrants back in the mid-1800s but like everywhere else, the first bonded winery wasn’t founded until after prohibition in 1950. The Pesciallo family who founded Blue Mountain Vineyards were certainly way ahead of their time, as they didn’t survive and vines weren’t then planted until the 1970s. Walla Walla went unnoticed for almost thirty years until the mid ’90s when there were less than 10 wineries, and a number of wines started to get rave reviews. This started a serious boom in the region, to the point that there are now about 160 wineries sourcing fruit from the entire Columbia Valley & Walla Walla AVA. This is a region seriously on the move, so pay attention.

L’Ecole No 41 Tasting Room

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