It’s day 2 of the Wine Bloggers Conference, and we’re off on the little yellow school buses to explore some of the Walla Walla terroir. Fortunately for us Bay Area folks,who aren’t used to the heat, it was a warm but pleasant day for walking around the vineyards and our bus was off and ready to go. Armed with my trusty compatriots Lynnette, Ryan and Ward, we were joined by some new friends and headed off to taste some of Walla Walla’s wines. Our bus was hosted by Walla Walla’s mayor, and we were off to Watermill Winery’s vineyards in Milton-Freewater. Juts over the Oregon border, this area was first settled with orchards and vegetable farms. Now, we were examining the hard packed cobblestone soil, which is the remnant of the alluvial fan. With 200 feet of packed cobblestone, the soil is well drained suited perfectly for the big reds that we were tasting. Saviah Cellars was founded in 2000, and Watermill first planted grapes in 2002. This is a Certified LIVE vineyard, which in Oregon is Low Input Viticulture and Enology – very similar to a sustainable certified vineyard here. They are only allowed one herbicidal spray a year, and believe that microbiological health of the soil and vineyard is paramount. The 2007 Watermill Malbec tasted of blueberries and black berries with chewy plums and huckleberries. There was a hint of smoke and white pepper, and we were told that growing Malbec on the rocky soil was unusual. The result is a dense intense wine that I really enjoyed. next we tasted the 2007 Watermill Cab Franc. Being a girl who loves cab franc, I was a bit skeptical, but this was a lovely plummy red fruit example with spicy smoke. the rich & smooth wine was a Tansy treat. we also tasted the 2008 Saviah Cellears Malbec, which was a great companion to the Watermill verison. This wine comes from the same vineyard, but showed more earth, leather and tobacco, followed by cigar box. From Watermill, we headed over to Waters for lunch. More on that in my next post!
Being a California girl, while I have spent some time diving up the coast and meandering through Ashland, I have not spent a lot of time in Oregon. I have spent even less time examining the finer points of Oregon wines, specifically Oregon Pinot. Those of you who have known my taste buds know that I am a pinotphile and I usually reach for a pinot before any other red wine these days. As a local to the Northern California, I have access to some amazing wines. Recently, however, I have had the opportunity to do some in depth exploration of Oregon wines and have fallen in love. Again. It all started with a little blogger conference in Walla Walla. Having the choice to fly in to Seattle or Portland, I chose Portland since I had several friends in the area, and I was dying to meander through Oregon wine country. Enter my friends at Solena Estate, and a mini WBC blogger tour of Willamette Valley was born. My Oregon wine friends put together a blogger tour of the area that would seek to educate, palate tease, and giggle our way through the area. First, let’s just kick off the day by saying that our transportation was not your typical wine country bus. I knew something was up when Lynnette said “you’ll know your vehicle when you see it”. Enter Double Decker PDX, a new tour company that (poor chaps) agreed to take thier maiden voyage with us to wine country. Sitting on top of the old London Transport double decker bus, fully outfitted in leather seats, a wine cooler, and Froot Loop Donuts from VooDoo Donuts, we were off to visit the wine country in blogger style. Our first stop was the new Grand Cru property of Solena Estate Winery. This property is where the winery was founded, and as we took a tour around, we were treated to a bit of history from Laurent & Danielle Montalieu, the owners of this beautiful property. Solena was founded in 2000 when Laurent & Danielle purchases the “Wedding Vineyard”, 80 acres of rolling hillside vineyards. Instead of a gift registry, the couple asked people to buy them pinot noir vines – a novel gift idea, and one I might steal if I ever get married with 80 acres of land on my hands. The result was 80 pinot noir vines with 6 different clones, and the Estate Vineyard was born. Down in the barrel room, Laurent had a surprise for us in 6 barrel samples of the 2009 Pinot Noirs, from various vineyards. Handing each of us our own personal thief (a dangerous proposition if I’ve ever seen one), we were allowed to wander free sampling six wines, with several of them having wood variations. The barrel tasting experiences isn’t new to most bloggers, however, the ability to taste all six pinot noirs side by side, with a few extra tastings of wood variations, really gave us food for thought and interesting conversation topics. […]