L’Ecole 41

L'Ecole 41 historic schoolhouseWe have been fans of  L’Ecole 41 since we moved to Washington state in 1999. Consequently, L’Ecole 41 makes our Top 50 Wineries List year after year. Certainly, the winery continues to produce stellar wines every vintage. So please read on for more information about the third-oldest winery in Walla Walla, founded in 1983 in an historic schoolhouse. In addition, you’ll find out about L’Ecole’s wine flights now available to enjoy at home with virtual guided tastings.

 L’Ecole 41 Winemakers

Marty Clubb and Marcus RafenelliA trip to Walla Walla is not complete without stopping at L’Ecole on the way into town. This is always our plan. In addition, our friend Marcus Rafenelli is the new winemaker, working with the amazing Marty Clubb, managing winemaker and co-owner of L’Ecole with his wife, Megan and their children. “This illustrates the winery’s commitment to consistency and quality in every bottle, using traditional old-world style winemaking techniques; Marcus is the perfect person to lead our winemaking team to an even higher level of success,” Marty said.

Marcus Rafanelli, L'Ecole 41Consequently, we have even more incentive to visit. Not that we need it! We first met Marcus when he was assistant winemaker at William Church Winery in Woodinville. We immediately noticed his talent and skill, his passion for Washington state wine and his constant smile. Oh, and his fervor for the Seattle Seahawks! He went on to intern at renowned wineries in Australia and Germany, before becoming an instructor at the WWCC Institute for Enology & Viticulture program, where he had earlier graduated. He also studied oak production in France. In December, 2019, Marcus joined the L’Ecole team.

Over the years, we have also had the pleasure of talking with Marty at many events. He is an entertaining and knowledgeable storyteller in addition to an incredibly talented and creative winemaker. Today Marty’s primary focus is a hands-on approach to the winery’s viticulture operation. Along with his Estate Ferguson Vineyard and Estate Seven Hills Vineyard, Marty personally works with more than 30 vineyards located throughout the Columbia Valley.

L’Ecole 41 Wines

L’Ecole is one of the most honored wineries in Washington state and has generated national and international accolades over the years for producing superior quality wines. For example, Wine & Spirits Magazine recognized them as a Top 100 Winery of the Year 15 times.

Consistently making excellent wine every year, L’Eole offers dozens of varieties in their portfolio. For instance, the winery produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Bordeaux blends, single-vineyard blends, Semillon, Chenin Blanc, Rosé and more. The full list of their wines is available at their website.

Here are some of their wines we have enjoyed in the past year.

2016 L’Ecole 41 Walla Walla Valley Apogee

L'Ecole Apogee 2016L’Ecole has produced Pepper Bridge Vineyard Apogee since 1993, and this is one of the best vintages we have tasted. Apogee features complexity and a rich structure, blending Cabernet Sauvignon (60%), Merlot (25%), Malbec (11%) and Cabernet Franc (4%). Aromas of black cherry, cocoa and licorice lead into flavors of dark fruit and baking spice. We opened one bottle last month, but have another bottle in our cellar. What a superb wine! The 2017 vintage is now available.

2015 L’Ecole 41 Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon

This is 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon from L'Ecole 41, one of the oldest wineries in Walla Walla.We have been fans of this elegant 100% Cabernet Sauvignon since the 2001 vintage. The 2015 Cab is a blend of five prestigious vineyards, representing three unique soil types in the Walla Walla valley. This wine is structured, sophisticated and complex, with notes of blackberry, blueberry, plum and spice. Moreover, the 2017 vintage is now available. In addition, L’Ecole produces a Columbia Valley Cab Sauv. We will be writing about the 2017 vintage in February.

2002 L’Ecole 41 Perigee

We were dazzled when we tasted this seductive library wine during a 2018 visit to the tasting room. We purchased two bottles of this elegant, complex and silky blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (57%), Merlot (37%) and Cab Franc (6%). Think earth, spice and everything nice. Perigee is a blend of the oldest and most distinguished blocks from L’Ecole’s Estate Seven Hills Vineyard. The 2017 vintage is available now. While we haven’t yet tasted it, it promises to exemplify this vineyard’s characteristic dark-fruit structured elegance.

2017 L’Ecole 41 Estate Luminesce and 2017 Semillon

L'Ecole Semillon and LuminesceAnd let’s not forget L’Ecole’s beautiful, award-winning, white Bordeaux blend, Luminesce. The 2017 vintage features 54% Semillon with 46% Sauvignon Blanc. As a result, flavors of tropical fruit, lemon zest and white peach are hugged by fresh, crisp minerality. However, the most recent vintage, 2019 Luminesce, blends Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc 50/50, striking the perfect balance of these two classic grapes with both mineral notes and richness. Meanwhile, L’Ecole’s 100% Semillon showcases aromatics of pears and melons, leading into notes of apples, figs and citrus. The 2019 Semillon is available now as well.


In conclusion, we highly recommend L’Ecole 41 wines. Moreover, L’Ecole is now offering tasting flights to enjoy at home. Tasting flights are available as sets of five sample-size bottles or five full bottles. Purchases of full-bottle flights include a bonus Vacuvin Wine Saver with two stoppers. Virtual tours are also offered. Read more at their website.

Finally, we are collaborating with L’Ecole in a 2021 wine education program. Therefore, you can expect to find out more here about L’Ecole 41’s new releases throughout the year.

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Margot and Dave