When we first encountered Caprio Cellars more than two years ago, we considered this beautiful winery, with incredible hospitality, as a hidden gem on the south side of Walla Walla. It’s no longer a secret. These days, many wine enthusiasts discovered Caprio features a winning combination: abounding hospitality, world-class wines, tasty food, a gorgeous tasting room, and a 360° view of the Walla Walla Valley. We recommend that you make it a must-stop visit too.
Incredible Hospitality: Caprio Cellars Tasting Room and Deck
Customer Experience Director Emily Kiefer and her staff have a goal to find creative ways to give you a five-star visit. They treat you like an honored guest in their home. In short, this is an elevated wine-and-food adventure. And there is no fee, which is rare in most wine regions. But you do need to make an appointment. You can book a tasting on Wednesdays through Sundays. That’s because they limit seating, so you have lots of room to enjoy your time at Caprio Cellars.
Many seating areas are available on the large patio, on cozy chairs around outside fire pits, or inside their beautifully styled tasting room. In other words, their hospitality is phenomenal. And when you’re there, look around for a sweet surprise!
As mentioned, this is an exceptional experience. There are amazing small plates that accompany the standout wines. For example, we enjoyed a flavorful Pear and Beet Salad (watermelon radish, marinated chevre, pepitas, roasted shallots and truffle vinaigrette) paired with Rosé of Cabernet Franc. Next, we tasted refreshing Ceviche (prawns, cucumber, onions, tomatoes and cilantro) paired with Estate White. And finally, we nibbled on delicious English Pea Sauté (pea purée, pea tendrils, house-made ricotta and bacon lardons), served with Red Label Cabernet Sauvignon. Their impressive menu highlights scratch-made, seasonally driven dishes. Kudos to Head Chef Kyle Daniel, assisted by Chef Angel Cruz.
Caprio Cellars Wines
Caprio Cellars is a small producer of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. Owner-Winemaker Dennis Murphy produces about 2,000 cases per year, all from three estate vineyards: Eleanor, Octave and Sanitella. Each site enjoys ideal sun exposure and vine-loving soil, yielding high-quality grapes. Sustainable farming practices are central to Caprio’s operation.
Dennis is inspired by his wine-loving ancestors; for instance, his great-grandmother Sanitella knew each family in her small Italian neighborhood by their homemade wine. A Caprio vineyard honors her, while another pays tribute to Dennis’ grandmother, Eleanor. As well, both of Caprio’s signature red blends – the Eleanor and the Sanitella- celebrate these two women.
We tasted four outstanding wines at Caprio Cellars. They were: 2022 Estate Rosé, 2022 Estate White Blend, 2021 Red Label Cabernet Sauvignon and 2021 Eleanor.
Estate Rosé and White
2022 Estate Rosé ($38) is a refreshing sip of summer, 100% Cabernet Franc sourced 100% from Sanitella Vineyard, and aged in 100% stainless steel. This Provence-style rosé features so much substance that Emily noted you should not pour it right out of the fridge or cooler. This rosé opens with aromas of watermelon and red fruit, followed by great acidity, balance and minerality. Caprio Cellars Estate Rosé will pair well with the gorgeous sunsets in our backyard.
2022 Estate White Blend ($38) is a classic Bordeaux-style white, comprised of 75% Sémillon and 25% Sauvignon Blanc from Sanitella Vineyard. It shows elegance and textured layers of peaches and pears, threaded with minerality. This enhances meals with seafood.
2021 Red Label Cabernet Sauvignon ($48) is an excellent wine that blends Cabernet Sauvignon with “a smidge” of Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Merlot from all three estate vineyards. Emily told us this luscious red goes back to their roots because Cab Sauv is the first wine that Dennis crafted. What a crowd-pleaser, with aromas and flavors of red and black fruit, and hints of spices and bacon. It’s very approachable now, or you can cellar it.
2021 Eleanor ($68) is a young and vibrant red wine that was just released. This is a stellar blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (60%), Cabernet Franc (16%), Malbec (15%) and Merlot (9%). Santinella Vineyard sourced 49% of the fruit, while 37% came from Octave, and 14% from Eleanor Vineyard. Notably, this vintage has more Cab Franc and Malbec, and less Merlot than previous vintages we’ve tasted, and we loved it. This full-bodied, balanced wine shows notes of dark fruit, fig and chocolate, with hints of cedar, herbs and minerality.
Summary: Incredible Hospitality
In conclusion, we recommend that you add Caprio Cellars to your Walla Walla itinerary. This is a special winery that offers incredible hospitality with a unique wine-and-food experience. As well, Caprio gives back 5% of its proceeds to two organizations, First Story, which helps provide families with affordable housing, and Big Brothers, Big Sisters.
Caprio’s aim is “to cultivate a wine culture and creating a space for the social experience of sharing wine and learning how to appreciate it over time, while always serving great food and wines in the European tradition.”
Photo credits go to our friend Chuck Kinzer, a professional photographer.
Margot and Dave