Monday, November 9, 2009

Whirlwind in Walla Walla

The Lieberg/Leclerc crew spent a delightful Birthday weekend in Walla Walla, sipping lots of Syrah and meeting some of the locals who really make this town tick.

We started with K Vintners. I had visited this winery before and it once again lived up to its reputation of a rockin' tasting room. With loud music pumping throughout, it was the perfect place to kick-off our weekend. Most of you know the House Wine label, in big black and white imagery, this was one of the first wines on the market to showcase a more irreverent label. Charles Smith, the winemaker, of whom Food & Wine recently named Winemaker of the Year, is anything but a conformist-and everything about his production proves this. We enjoyed some delicious Syrah and ended up with 3 bottles of Boom Boom! to enjoy later that evening.

Next stop was Buty & Beast wines. A small producer selling wine from a tasting room near the airport (where several wineries have set up shop). We had heard that these peeps were producing some killer single varietals. We enjoyed some Granache, Malbec and Syrahs. I ended up with a Beast Phinny Syrah that I cannot wait to open later this fall. We enjoyed chatting with the friendly staff, and Taylor got caught in deep conversation with the Buty guru.

We headed downtown Walla Walla where fortuitously Nicholas Cole Cellars opened their doors to the public for a food and wine extravaganza. We enjoyed a bottle of the 2005 Michele while nibbling on a scrumptious spread catered by Saffron, one of Walla Walla's premier restaurants. We were more than happy to take home 2 bottles from Nicholas Cole, another bottle of the Michele and a bottle of the 2006 Dauphiné.

Day two: Lucky for us, the sun was shinning and the vines in Walla Walla made for an incredible backdrop. We picked up lizzie and Eric, grabbed a disappointing breakfast (something's better than nothing when you are winetasting?) and headed to Kerloo Cellars. I learned of this boutique winery through a Full Pull newsletter that praised the Kerloo wines. We were in for a treat as we not-so-easily navigated our caravan to Va Piano, where Kerloo Cellars operates. We were met by Ryan Crane, the young winemaker who created Kerloo while also serving as Assistant Winemaker at Va Piano . Ryan gave us an hour of his time while we sipped his Temparnillo and Syrahs. It was awesome to hang out in the cellar and hear how this energetic winemaker's career evolved. Ryan's passion, knowledge, accessibility and seriously tasty wines made this visit the highlight of our weekend. We could not leave without taking home bottles of Kerloo's Syrah and were really thankful we made the appointment with Ryan-a must on anyone's tasting journey in Walla Walla.

Luck was on our side because as we saddled up to the bar at Pepper Bridge's tasting room, Norm one of the winery's co-owners asked if we wanted a tour of the facility, um...YES! This is a serious production and it was awesome to have a behind the scenes experience. Thank you Norm!!!

Next stop: Gramercy Cellars, which was pouring wine in a tent on the property they share with Waters winery. Talk about a beautiful setting. The ladies opted to pass on the tasting (we had a big night ahead of us!) but did enjoy the awesome outdoor fireplace.

Saturday was topped off by a Leclerc tradition-racelette. Our better version of a fondue. Cheese, cheese, cheese and more cheese were on the menu. A perfect way to celebrate a weekend of indulgence. Hey, you're only 60, 30, and 27 once...

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