July 4th Weekend in Walla Walla

On Sunday over the 4th of July weekend I decided to experience some new Walla Walla wineries.  My first destination was to head to the Airport District on the Northeast side of Walla Walla where I visited Adamant Cellars.  My timing was impeccable.  Everywhere I went, I was pretty much one of the only patrons, which I love.  It gives me time to chat with the winery staff and get more one-on-one attention during the tastings.  I’ve been to Adamant previously, but it had been over a year so I wanted to see how the wines were changing.  I recalled a nice Tempranillo, but today, their Malbec really called out to me.  It was uncharacteristic of your typical Washington State Malbec-based wines and offered a smooth and elegant finish without so much spice or pepper.  I bought a bottle of this gem.

The next stop was to head into the Downtown Walla Walla area and visit a new tasting room called Elephant Seven – a small production winery (about 2000 to 2500 cases per year).  I had to drive around the block twice until I realized where it was.  It’s hidden inconspicuously without much of a sign on the outside to lure a wino like me inside!  I last tasted their wines a few years ago at one of the Walter Clore Center’s Rising Stars events, where I purchased their 2014 Yellow Bird Vineyard Syrah…which was delicious!  They focus on Rhône style varietals and blends, so it was nice to taste their Grenache and Syrah in their new tasting room.

Stop number 3 was taking me to my happy place – the Southside of Walla Walla.  The wineries of the Southside are situated with amazing views of the Blue Mountains and vineyards as far as the eye can see.  It’s paradise.   My visit to Amavi was really enjoyable.  The Cabernet Sauvignon was drinking really nicely today, and the view of the foothills was simply amazing from their deck.

My next stop was going to be Pepper Bridge Winery, but as I traveled down JB George Road I saw a sign I didn’t recognize that was recently placed where Solemn Cellars was previously located just a few months earlier!  So I decided to stop in, and I’m so glad I did!  Canvasback provided me with an amazing tasting of some really outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon’s.  Each was delicious and unique, but the grand finale was the 2016 Grand Passage Red Mountain Cab, crafted from grapes from Ciel du Cheval and Quintessence Vineyards in Benton City….my backyard baby!   I had to buy two of these amazing bottles.  This Cab is simply fantastic!  I can’t wait to see how it ages in my cellar!

Stop number 5 was Pepper Bridge Winery.  It is one of the more iconic wineries in Walla Walla and I had a good visit and chat with the winery staff in the tasting room.  The tasting was very nice as well.

Stop number 6 was one of my old favorites – Tertulia Cellars.  I always enjoy my tastings here.  From their Rhône blend and Syrah varietal to their Cab and their Carménère, the wines here are nicely crafted.  While I wished I could have stayed longer, I was forced to leave, in order to make my 3 pm reservation at my 7th and final tasting room.

Stop number 7 took me to Les Collines Vineyard at the base of the Blue Mountain foothills and home of Garrison Creek Cellars.  One of my favorite places to be in all of Eastern Washington.  The views are spectacular and the wine is always amazing.  The real treat is when you are taken to the wine cellar to sample some barrel tastes.  It’s always a memorable experience!  Today, the wines were delicious and paired nicely with the complimentary charcuterie plate provided with the tasting.  I ended up purchasing a bottle of the 2014 Walla Walla Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  It was fantastic and should evolve nicely for a few years in my cellar.

Finally, as I was headed back into town, my stomach began giving the orders for the next destination.  I could not resist having some food and more wine at Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen in downtown.  It’s always fantastic and today was no different.  The service was impeccable and the food quality and wine list were perfect!  After enjoying some warm baked breads with seasoned olive oil and some wine, I had a Mediterranean sausage plate with pita bread slices that were so delicious and filling I left with a huge smile.  Until next time Walla Walla!  Cheers!!!

Aaron Diaz