We’ve been fans of Va Piano Vineyards and owner/winemaker Justin Wiley since we met him in 2010 after the Wine Bloggers Conference in Walla Walla. How can you not like a winemaker who says, “My winemaking philosophy is very simple: Grow the best grapes we can and don’t screw it up in the cellar.”
More recently, Justin also founded Eritage Resort, located on 300 acres in the rolling fields of wheat and vineyards about six miles north of Walla Walla. Scheduled to open early next year, the resort will offer 10 luxury suites and a restaurant headed up by James Beard award-winning Seattle chef Jason Wilson.
Va Piano has been on our Top 50 List of Washington Wineries every year since we started the list in 2014. So of course we stopped by Justin’s beautiful estate winery when we were recently in Walla Walla.
Here are the wines poured by our wonderful tasting room host, Derri Reid, who is the general manager of the winery.
Va Piano Rosé 2016 Cabernet Franc Columbia Valley ($22)
This pretty summer sipper is 100% Cab Franc rosé from Chelle den Millie Vineyard. Dry, crisp and smooth, this wine has floral and strawberry aromas and flavors, along with melon, guava, mango and watermelon. Va Piano’s rosé sings of summer — a perfect bottle for the deck or patio, by the lake or poolside. But you don’t have to wait for warm weather to enjoy it because such a good rosé pairs with just about anything, anytime of the year.
Va Piano 2016 Sauvignon Blanc ($37)
We love this Black Label Sauvignon Blanc, but you’ll have to wait until the new release in spring 2018, because this vintage is (not surprisingly) sold out. Also from Chelle den Millie Vineyard, this Sauv Blanc is exceptional — with grassy notes, grapefruit and other citrus aromas and flavors. Justin’s Black Label offerings are vineyard-designated, crafted with the best barrels of these wines, and limited to small lots of 200 cases or less.
Va Piano 2016 Sémillon Columbia Valley ($22)
We prefer Sauvignon Blanc to Sémillon, but this one caught our attention — probably because of the Sauv Blanc blended with it. Aromas of honeysuckle, orange blossom and lemon zest lead into flavors of apples, grapefruit and honeydew. Pair this with spicy food, Asian cuisine, shellfish, pork or chicken, or almost any dish with cream sauce. Or you can simply try it with blue cheese. Delicious!
Va Piano 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley ($50)
As in previous vintages, Justin continues to craft Cabernet Sauvignon with a wow factor. Someone once said he creates art in a bottle, which is underlined by such an impressive Cab Sauv. This beauty is blended with 14% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Malbec. Featuring notes of dark fruits, raspberries and chocolate, this wine has staying power, and can be enjoyed now or cellared until 2022. Bring on the steaks!
Va Piano 2014 Syrah Walla Walla Valley ($50)
Syrah from three Walla Walla vineyards (Va Piano Estates, Les Collines and Stoney Vine) was blended into a lovely wine that represents the characteristics of each site. According to Justin, Va Piano Estate adds spice, black fruit and smoke, while Les Collines adds cherry, smoke and chocolate, and Stoney Vine from The Rocks District adds earthy, spicy and meaty elements. Pour it now or cellar it until 2025.
You can taste these wines in three locations — In addition to Walla Walla, you can also find Va Piano tasting rooms in Spokane and Bend, Oregon.
They will make nice gifts for your family and friends. Or you can pour them while you’re entertaining at home over the holidays, or take a bottle or two with you to a party.
Margot and Dave