Caprio Cellars is a hidden gem on the southside of Walla Walla. Above all, Caprio has a winning combination: elegant wines, tasty food, a gorgeous tasting room, incredible hospitality and a 360° view of the Walla Walla Valley. And they have secret treats hidden in unlikely places. Frankly, we had never heard of Caprio Cellars until our recent trip. Now, we want to spread the word, so you’ll make it a must-stop visit on your itinerary for Washington wine country too.
Caprio Cellars Tasting Room and Deck
From their beautifully styled tasting room to a large patio with cozy chairs around fire pits, Caprio Cellars offers abounding comfort and hospitality. Some might call it urban chic, a perfect backdrop to their Bordeaux-inspired, small-lot wines. Their website has more photos of their stunning facility in the heart of Walla Walla wine country. In addition, Caprio is home to three estate vineyards: Eleanor, Octave and Sanitella. Each site enjoys ideal sun exposure and vine-loving soil, yielding high-quality grapes.
Their hospitality is phenomenal. First, you feel like you’re being welcomed into someone’s home. Next, Customer Experience Director Emily Kiefer and her staff have a goal to find creative ways to give you a five-star visit. But don’t just take our word for it – look at these excellent reviews on Facebook. And when you’re there, don’t forget to ask about where you can find a sweet surprise! Thanks, Hillary, for sharing that tasty tidbit.
And then there’s the delicious food pairings, which we enjoyed by a fire pit. We tasted Asian Pear Salad, Italian meatballs and more from their seasonal menu, which features scratch-made, seasonally driven plates. My favorite was the pear salad, which you can see in the close-up photo below. It was so flavorful, with golden beets, grapes, roasted almonds, goat cheese and vanilla vinaigrette. Yum! Kudos to Chef Ian Williams for his amazing dishes.
Caprio Cellars Wines
Unfortunately, both Owner/Winemaker Dennis Murphy and General Manager Derek Brendle were out of town during our visit. However, Emily shared Dennis’ family stories for each wine, which simply added to the magnificent experience. Inspired by his wine-loving ancestors, Dennis moved to Walla Walla in 1999 with one focus, to make world-class wines. After tasting four of them, we can definitely say he succeeded. You can book a tasting on Wednesdays through Sundays.
2020 Estate Rosé (SRP $28)
What a pretty Rosé! This beauty is 100% Cabernet Franc, sourced 100% from Sanitella Vineyard, and aged in 100% stainless steel. Certainly, we can give this Rosé a 100% grade too. The wine opens with aromas of watermelon and red fruit, followed by great acidity, balance and minerality. Bring on summer! Likewise, Caprio Cellars Estate Rosé will hold a special spot on our deck, its colors pairing well with the gorgeous sunsets here.
2017 Eleanor (SRP $48)
This is a stellar blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (50%), Merlot (28%), Malbec (2%) and Cabernet Franc (10%) that pays tribute to Dennis’ grandmother. As well, Eleanor Estate Vineyard also honors her. Eleanor Vineyard sourced 35% of the fruit for this wine; meanwhile, Octave Vineyard had the lion’s share of 65% of the fruit. This full-bodied, balanced wine is complex, with notes of dark fruit and hints of cedar, oak and minerality. It is a lovely expression of the 100% estate fruit in all of Caprio’s portfolio.
2018 Eleanor (SRP $48)
This vintage offers the same grapes as the 2017 Eleanor but in different percentages: Cabernet Sauvignon (59%), Merlot (19%), Malbec (15%) and Cabernet Franc (7%). The fruit source is almost split – 53% from Octave Vineyard and 47% from Eleanor. Aromas of red fruit such as plums and cherries lead into flavors of blackberry and red currents. And once again, the minerality shines through. This wine’s potential shows well now, and it will be even better in a few years.
2015 Sanitella ($88 SRP)
Sanitella pays homage to Dennis’ great-grandmother, who knew each family in her small Italian neighborhood by their homemade wine. This Bordeaux-style wine is an outstanding blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (34%), Malbec (33%), Cabernet Franc (22%) and Merlot (11%). Concentrated black fruit is evident on the nose and the palate, along with pepper, spices, cassis and cocoa. Only 140 cases were produced from their four best barrels. As a result, Sanitella is elegant, layered, sophisticated and structured.
The Finch Hotel
As an extra bonus, Derek introduced us to The Finch, where we stayed for one night when we were in Walla Walla. A new hotel, The Finch reminded us of the trendy Ace Hotel in New York. Among other unique features, the Finch offers modern, one-of-a-kind guest rooms (ours had a 50s-style turquoise mini-fridge, pictured below) and special amenities for your dogs. Moreover, the hotel is right downtown, within easy walking distance to the best local restaurants, tasting rooms and shopping.
Caprio Cellars Summary
We will definitely go back to Caprio Cellars. And certainly, we recommend that you add it to your Walla Walla itinerary too.
Come back to Write for Wine in the weeks ahead for more articles about our recent trip to Washington Wine Country.
Margot and Dave