I. LOVE. WALLA WALLA. Oh, let me rephrase… I ❤ ❤ WW!!! The place so nice, they named it twice! I think I spent at least three hours trying to convince Alan that Walla Walla is where we should live. Wine, good fresh food, a college community, and the trees – those old old trees. Oh, the East coast in me just purrs at the the sight of those beautiful old trees and homes. And the BACKYARDS?! They are positively divine. The days are hot in the summer, but the cool evenings and those perfect breezes? I DIE.
Before I digress too far into my love affair with Walla Walla I suppose I should get to the wine (since I know my dad is my number one reader, and I wouldn’t want to leave him hanging any longer). On our way into town we tasted at two wineries: Woodward Canyon and L’ecole. The tastings are cheaper here than in Willamette – almost all were $5 for five or six wines. Plus everyone is so friendly they offer to pour you more of whatever you liked. We enjoyed the tastings at both though the tasting room at L’ecole was a bit more interesting to see as it was in an old school building. Highlights at L’ecole for me were the 2010 Syrah and the 2010 Estate Merlot from the Seven Hills Vineyard (cedar, black cherry, baking spices and an earthy mineral finish). The ’09 Apogee was good too. As for Woodward I preferred the non-vintage, though it’s only sold at their tasting room.
Not far from this fine start we headed to downtown Walla Walla, which is a super charming downtown area full of wineries. Unlike many wine regions I’ve been to where the wineries are spread apart down long winding roads through the vine-covered hills, the majority of the can’t miss winemakers have tasting rooms conveniently located within a few blocks of each other in downtown Walla Walla. Perhaps not as scenic, but no DD required! And that’s a huge plus when the wines are so delectable and affordable. In case you couldn’t guess yet, in the battle of Willamette vs. Walla Walla?? Walla Walla for the win! (Let’s see how many times I can say Walla Walla in this post, shall we? It’s so fun, just say it out loud three or four times. You will laugh. Walla Walla Walla Walla Walla Walla. You can’t help sounding like a muppet character (doesn’t one of them say wakka wakka?)).
Charles Smith. Charles is a rock star. The man has a big head of long curly blond hair, his tasting room is a super funky modern event space, and his wines have cool names like “The Velvet” and “Boom Boom!” Also, his wines taste good! We really enjoyed our tasting here. We went with the “high end” wine tasting, which included a 2010 K Merlot Stoneridge Vineyard (93 pts, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate), two Syrahs we enjoyed (the Milbrandt and MCK), as well as a tasty Viognier that was rated 94 by Robert Parker (2011 CS Viognier). The chill and generous sales guy let us taste some of the wines that weren’t on our tasting list as well, and he trustingly let us leave owing $10 because we said we’d be back . We also met some folks from South Dakota who were super friendly and gave us some good recs for our time there.
Mark Ryan was our next stop where we tasted a number of great wines. We ended up purchasing a bottle of the Suicide Red for our picnic dinner. It was such a unique tasting wine (80% Syrah, 20% Mourvedre). I have only good things to say about the Dissident Red and Wild Eyed reds as well.
Last but not least we tried the Flying Trout/Tero Estates. Wines were pretty good, but I was several tastings in at this point so I unfortunately have no specific rec’s, except to note that we tried another Torrontes which Alan is becoming a big fan of (white wine from Argentina). We also met some new blog followers from Jacksonville and Bozeman! Shout out to new readers!
Also downtown, not just about the wine:
If you like mid-century modern furniture, stop in to the awesome vintage furniture shop called Debouche. Be sure to strike up a conversation with the equally awesome owner. She’s a hoot and a half. I promised when we had a home again that I would return to Debouche to furnish it.
The lunch spot we went to, also downtown and called Olive, was kind of my Coral Tree meets Walla Walla. Jenny, I hope you’re reading this, because if we had gone to law school in Walla Walla, we would have LIVED here. Ample seating, wifi, coffee and tea, delicious food, and the best study aid of all time: wine. Wonderful Walla Wallan wines. Look, did you see there how I turned Walla Walla into an adjective? I love it so much I’ve made an adjective out of it. I’m going to start using it as a noun to identify things I love. Like, “those pants are so Walla Walla. This party rocks – it’s totally Walla Walla!” Coral Tree, for those of you not in the Brentwood know, is a little food spot in Brentwood that my law school study buddy supreme and I spent countless hours studying at. More often than not these study sessions devolved into wine drinking and bonding sessions. Olive’s set up is similar, in that you order at the counter and they bring out your food to you. The menu trumps Coral Tree by far though, with an impressive offering of salads, pizza, sandwiches, coffee and tea drinks and a great beer and wine list. Alan and I split the duck confit salad and an apricot chicken salad sammie. Yum yum.
Our B&B was another highlight in Walla Walla. We stayed at the CarltAnn House, which is a cozy little bed and breakfast (only 3 rooms!) we found on AirBnB. It’s run by an older couple, John and Nathan (though we only met John during our stay). I just adored the place and the neighborhood – old trees lined the roads, herbs and veggies grew in the garden, a great old magnolia tree sat in the backyard housing a chorus of crickets and dragonflies. We stayed in the Anne Belov Room – named after an artist friend of theirs whose art accents the blue room. It’s one of the three bedrooms on the second floor which share a nice, huge bathroom. We were the only guests the night we stayed. The creaking oak floors, white trim, old wood furniture, ornate old doorknobs and a lovely seating area in the backyard… so beautiful.
It’s also only a block away from the Whitman College campus and a few minutes walk from downtown, so for dinner we walked back and picnic-ed at the B&B with meats and cheese we picked up at Salumiere (great wine/cheese/meat/provisional shop downtown), as well as the bottle of Suicide Red we picked up. We were joined by our host and sat out in the yard chatting for a few hours. Lovely conversation, he’s traveled quite a bit himself. We’re tempted to make a movie about his life, the stories were so beautiful. To give you a sense: he had always wanted to see Ireland and learn to play the fiddle, so he quit his job and went to Ireland and asked around until he found fiddle players that more or less took him in as a fiddle apprentice. Years later, in the US, he met someone who held their fiddle bow in a similar fashion and discovered that they had learned to play from same guy! We told him his life sounds like a screenplay, but he said he was too shy to want it made into a movie. I think the story is too good to not be shared.