Walla Walla. September visit.

At the end of September, we traditionally visited East Washington to try something new.

В Walla Walla we tried three wineries.

Moonbase Cellar

Small family winery. Laine and Drew Pauk founded it only in 2017. Before they did completely different things, but fell in love with viniculture, moved to Washington, and founded the winery. They don’t have their own vineyard yet and buy grapes from the vineyards of Walla Walla AVA and two small unique AVAs.

The tasting room is operated by the owner, and it was very interesting to talk with him. Well, mainly to listen to him only, because as soon as we started to talk, the big and bold company appeared and requested all his attention. So, normal dialogue became impossible, but we heard his inspiring vinicultural speech. He is a fan of wine education and always tries to bring more info to the clients. He uploaded his short educational movie on the winery website, but only for club members (that is understandable).

And he is a fan of space also. That is easy to see from the winery name and branding.
“Moonbase” means, that this winery is their start base for space viniculture exploration.

Used grape varieties are typical for Walla Walla – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Mourvedre, and so on.

All wines are young, the oldest is from 2019, which is understandable, the winery itself is very young. Some wines definitely require more ageing, but the quality is very good, and prices are actually lower than many small wineries in Walla Walla keep – from $20 to 55. The tasting is 15 and is waived with the purchase of any bottle (many small wineries now take 25, and waive it only with the purchase above a specific sum).

The winery has an interesting line – MaxQ. MaxQ is a maximum dynamic pressure condition – the point, where the air has a maximum pressure on a rocket because the speed is already high and the atmosphere is still quite dense (12-14 km). Remember, the owner is a fan not only of viniculture but the space also. The grape for this line they buy from the small unique AVA The Rock District. In the vineyard, the space between vines is covered with rocks. Through the rocks, the soil and vines obtain plenty of warmth, which is needed for riping, and also stresses the vine. Plants under the stress try to increase reproductivity, in the case of grapes, it also means a higher concentration of different compounds in the berry, which brings a more intensive and concentrated taste.
MaxQ Merlot 2020 has an interesting complex taste which I really enjoyed and took a bottle with me.

I definitely recommend the winery. Good wine, then interesting owner.

By the way, at this time, I first time tried pure varietal Petit Verdot, moreover, in two different places. One of them was Moonbase Cellar. Petit Verdot is a variety that originated from Bordeaux, where it is used as a small part of blends to give wine more structure. It has a lot of tannins, and deep colour, and requires a lot of sun and time for ripening, even more than Cabernet sauvignon. In Bordeaux, it even cannot ripe completely every year. In Australia and USA, where the climate is warmer, winemakers started to do pure varietal wine from Petit Verdot. None of the tried wines didn’t impress me, actually. Too simple and straightforward taste, too high acidity, and too tannic. Well, the idea of blends appeared for a reason.

Another family winery – Armstrong.

No, the owners are not fans of the space, as possible to think (in Walla Walla tasting rooms of both wineries locates nearby), Armstrong is their name.

It is also a young winery, although a little older and bigger. They made their first wine in 2011, and they also have a tasting room in Woodinville.

Tasting is $15, waived with purchase on $40. Prices are $20-45.

Also classic Walla Walla – Cabernet sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and so on.
I very much like Fronk 2018 (100% Cab Franc) – soft (that is not typical for Cab Franc), aromatic< saturated.
Very nice Syrah 2019
But especially I love Bogie’s Blend 2017 (50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 50% Syrah). Bogie is an owner’s dog, a cross between the basset and beagle. A very strange cross, but the wine is perfect – deep, soft tannins; prominent, but gentle fruit aroma; nice bitterness and earth aroma. Took a bottle with me.
Recommend this winery.

AVA of Goose Ridge winery is not Walla Walla, but Columbia Valley. However, we visited their tasting room during our Walla Walla visit (they have them everywhere, in Walla Walla, Richland, Leavenworth, and Voodinveille), so I так что пусть про них будет здесь.

This winery is not small, it produces 40 000 cases per year, and the wine can be found in any state. Among the other big wineries of Washington state, it is the only winery with a single estate vineyard, located near
Red Mountain AVA. Like many big wineries, their production is divided into mass-market wines (those thousands of cases per year, sold under the labels g3, Tall Sage, Stonecap and Cascadian Outfitters), and high-quality, limited-production wines under the label Goose Ridge Estate. The last ones we tasted.

Goose Ridge produces a wide range of white and red wines. Amond whites – Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Grenache Blanc, Riesling, Viognier, an unusual blend of Viognier, Grenache Blanc, and Roussanne. Pinot Gris was very nice, and Riesling is perfect, gentle and aromatic.
The classic panel of Walla Walla’s reds – Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Mourvedre, Grenache, and a blend of these varieties. Everything is decent, only the 2017 Sharp Tailed Grouse (Mourvedre and Grenache blend) was too sour with hard tannins. Whereas Syrah 2017 was just delighted. Silky, with a gentle taste of ripe plum and spices, good earthy notes, and a floral aroma. Too a bottle with me.

Tasting is $25, waived with purchase on $40.

Besides of vineyards, Goose Ridge Estate has apple orchards and makes a good sider from its own apples.

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