If you can’t make it to Walla Walla, the next best thing is to go to “Walla Walla Wine on Tour.” We drove to Seattle to do just that, and it was a perfect opportunity to celebrate stellar Walla Walla wine. We visited winemakers we’ve known for a while, like Trey Busch at Sleight of Hand Cellars and Joe Czarny at Canvasback, and said hello again to Emily Kiefer, the hospitality goddess at Caprio Cellars. In addition, we met some others for the first time – Doug Frost of Echolands, Tim Lenihan of Dossier, and Kelsey Albro Itämeri from itä wines. We tasted impressive new vintages of old favorites and enjoyed amazing wines that are new to us. Cheers to Walla Walla wine! And happy 40th anniversary to the AVA!
Walla Walla Wine on Tour
At “Walla Walla Wine on Tour” at McCaw Hall in Seattle, we tasted new vintages of old faves. These included Sleight of Hand 2021 Armitage Reserve, Canvasback Grand Passage 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain, Figgins 2020 Estate Red Wine, and Woodward Canyon 2020 and 2021 Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon.
As well, we enjoyed beautiful wines that are new to us – Pursued by Bear 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon, Echolands 2019 Seven Hills Vineyard Red and Grenache Rosé 2022, Dossier 2021 Flagship Syrah, itä 2022 Sémillon, and Sleight of Hand 2021 Rebel Rebel White blend.
Walla Walla Wine on Tour: Sleight of Hand Cellars
First, we stopped at Sleight of Hand Cellars, where we had a great chat with co-owner/ winemaker Trey Busch and met Bethany from the Seattle SoDo tasting room. We also tasted two excellent wines. Sleight of Hand 2021 Archimage Reserve is the best vintage yet of this spectacular Cab Franc-Merlot blend – and we’ve tasted both the magnificent 2016 and the 2019. It features balance, power, layered complexity, and a rich, luxurious mouthfeel. 2021 “Rebel Rebel” White wine blends 70% Roussanne and 30% Marsanne from Elevation Vineyard. This beauty is refreshing, textured, and packed with flavors of lemons and stone fruit. It will be a super porch pounder in the summer, but we could drink it all year with seafood or spicy dishes.
CEO Doug Frost is one of only three people in the world to hold both the Master of Wine and Master Sommelier titles. He also co-owns Echolands Winery with Conservationist/Chairman Brad Bergman. Other familiar names on Echolands’ talented team: incredible Winemaker and General Manager Brian Rudin (formerly of Canvasback) and the amazing Sadie Drury, Vineyard Manager extraordinaire. After meeting Doug (who is hilarious) and tasting two Echolands wines, we are very impressed with this new Walla Walla winery.
Echolands 2019 Seven Hills Vineyard Red is a stunning blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. This expressive Bordeaux blend showcases structure, elegance and finesse in a glass.
Echolands 2022 Rosé is 100% Grenache from Rivière-Galets Vineyard in the Rocks District. The grapes were picked far earlier than most “to preserve acidity and keep flavors fresh and bright.” Brian aged the Grenache exclusively in stainless steel drums. What a pretty rosé, featuring red fruits and stone fruits, threaded with citrus notes, hints of granite, and minerality.
Echolands is opening a 27,000-square-foot production facility, Echolands Estate, in the heart of the Blue Mountains this spring. On our next trip to Walla Walla, we will be sure to visit.
Dossier Wine Collective
When we were in Walla Walla early last summer, the Dossier Wine Collective tasting room was almost ready to open, but not quite. So, we couldn’t stop by. But we had earlier tasted a Dossier Sauvignon Blanc and wanted to know more about this luxury brand. At “Walla Walla Wine on Tour,” we did just that. First, we met the passionate co-founder of Dossier, Tim Lenihan. Subsequently, after a good conversation, we tasted two striking wines.
Dossier 2022 Sauvignon Blanc is delightful, with flavors and aromas of stone fruit, citrus, tropical fruit and a touch of graphite. This SB was aged in a combination of French oak, stainless steel and concrete egg.
However, the Dossier 2021 Flagship Index Bordeaux-style Red Blend is on a whole other level. Cabernet Sauvignon (44%), Merlot (22%), Cab Franc (18%), Malbec (12%) and Petit Verdot (4%) merge into a sensational glass of sophisticated beauty. This is one killer wine with layers, textures and complexity that resonate with every sip. This is not surprising, because Dossier’s excellent winemaker is Billo Naravane of Rasa Vineyards.
Tim and his co-founder, former Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Sidney Rice, launched Dossier Wine Collective in 2021. Sidney was away from their Tour table when we were there, unfortunately. Now that the Dossier Wine Collective tasting room is open, we will definitely visit when we are next in Walla Walla.
Other Walla Walla Wines
Canvasback Grand Passage 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon embodies the essence and the best of Red Mountain. And it was great to see winemaker Joe Czarny again.
Pursued by Bear 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon, which we tasted for the first time, is gorgeous, and we highly recommend it.
Figgins 2020 Estate Red Wine is their expressive and approachable flagship wine, which remains a consistent Walla Walla favorite.
Woodward Canyon 2020 and 2021 Old Vines Cab Sauvignon both entice. We’ve been fans of the winery and this wine for decades.
Watermill 2020 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon offers aromas and flavors of vanilla and black and red fruit – lovely!
itä Wines 2022 Sémillon is full of pear flavors and laced with minerality. It’s the first wine we’ve tasted from this fairly new Walla Walla winery. We enjoyed meeting Kelsey Albro Itämeri, who told us she prefers a lighter, more acid-driven style of wine.
Summary: Walla Walla Wine On Tour
In conclusion, we highly recommend visiting Walla Walla for excellent wine and a wonderful getaway. Meanwhile, Walla Walla Wine on Tour is also going to be in Portland and Boise.
Margot and Dave