Well, not so much the town in this scenario as the entire appellation. This seems only fair as the this AVA is located in two separate states – Oregon and Washington. The justifications for the establishment of the viticultural area are historic, geologic, geographic and climatic.
Walla Walla translates at “rapid stream” or “many waters” in the Sahaptin language that is shared by the Walla Walla, Umatilla, Yakama, Nez Perce and Tenino peoples. Western settlers moved into the area beginning in the 1830s when Marcus and Narcissa Whitman came as missionaries to the Walla Walla people but were murdered by the Cayuse following outbreaks of measles that the indians believed were caused by the whites (they were, but they didn’t do it on purpose as no one was aware of germ theory quite yet). Viticulture began informally with French fur trappers in the 1840s in an area previously known as Frenchtown, now called Lowden.
The geologic basis of the creation of the appellation is based in part on the similarity of the river plain of assorted wind blown loess soils well drained by smaller streams that cut through the area. Being located between the Cascades and the Blue Mountains along the Washington, Oregon and Idaho border means that the area is blocked from the moderating temperatures nearer the Pacific but also in a rain shadow as well. This means that the climate is more intense with warmer days with cool evenings and semi-arid which requires irrigation for cultivation.
Modern viticulture (i.e. post-(the dreaded) Prohibition) began with Leonetti Cellars in the 1970s with Woodward Canyon Cellars and L’Ecole 41 coming along in the 1980s . The Walla Walla AVA was established in 1984 and amended to extend the territory in 2001. Varietals produced in the area include:
Oh, and I have actually been to this viticultural area! The Wine Bloggers’ Conference in 2010 was in Walla Walla.
Speaking of Desert Wind Vineyards, our next wine selection was from their winery. The Desert Wine 2008 Ruah was poured by Amber Fries. If you are confused by Ruah as I was, then I am pleased to tell you that Ruah means wind in Hebrew. This winery is different from the others that we have encountered at the conference in that it is a destination winery. In addition to the tours, tastings and special events that we have come to expect as part of winery, Desert Wind also has dining and accomodations. Each of the four rooms is distinctly decorated in a southwestern theme. The small restaurant, Mojave by Picazo is also southwestern in theme.
oops. That is a little out there, but I like the thought of wine being poured with the regularity of ducks quacking. Which brings us to Duck Pond Cellars. Greg Fries, partner and one of the winemakers poured for us their 2008 Red Blend which is a mix of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. The fruit is from the Desert Wind Vineyard which is also owned by the Fries Family.
Ok. Bachelor’s Buttons. Still it seemed the perfect name for a wine that was being “dated”. Denise Isenhower or Isenhower Cellars talks about the wine from her small winery. Oh, and the name? It comes from the flowers growing at their winery.. You probably guessed that because you are clever.
Speed dating a family? That sounds a bit kinky. Particularly by my Snow White standards… speed dating a vineyard? That sounds more like me. Though perhaps, I am becoming like Mae West when she said, “I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.”
Anywho…. next up on our speed dating agenda is the Ortman Family Vineyard’s O² Sangiovese. It is a second generation wine from the winery’s second generation wine maker. Enjoy!
What can you tell about a wine in six minutes? More than you think. This is almost of test of skills for winery and wine blogger alike as we try to form opinions, ask questions, taste, communicate, blog and tweet. You saw my tweets and blogs in when the speed dating was happening.. Now you can see how I gathered my information.
Now we are tasting the Lot 1 Cabernet Sauvignon from Louis M. Martini (I forgot the M. in the video, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa).
Wine bloggers are an interesting lot. When we congregate together we find new and original ways to try wine. One of my favorites is the speed dating at the Wine Bloggers’ Conference. Every six minutes we are introduced to a new wine and we are supposed to taste and blog and ask questions in the six minute period. I did blog the results of these tasting from the conference, but I also filmed the experience too. This was the first of the red wines, the House Wine from the Magnificent Wine Company. A votre santé
When in Walla Walla, I attended the Wine Bloggers’ Conference at the Marcus Whitman Hotel and Conference Center and visited Whitman Cellars. Walla Walla is also home Whitman College, alma mater of Adam West and Dirk Benedict.
So, naturally, the question arose, who is this Marcus Whitman guy and what did he do to get so much in town named after him. Here is your answer. Your welcome.