Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Destination Washington West

I just read on CNN that Washington -- the one that's mastered wine, not whine -- is anxious to become a real wine destination. They're talking about building up everything from the number of good restaurants for tourists to luxury wine resorts.

I say be careful what you wish for. We all know how much Napa Valley has changed in the past decade or two, how expensive it has become, the traffic. While it's up to the people of Washington to make these choices, I personally enjoyed touring Washington wine country just as it was a couple of years ago. The quality is there already. You don't have to wait. But what's also there and could easily be lost are charming hosts, beautiful pastoral landscapes, a relaxed, unpretentious environment and little traffic.

We checked out a number of Yakima Valley wineries and a number in the Walla Walla area. Both produce some very fine wines. But I found a couple of places in Walla Walla to be making truly exceptional wines. Our favorite experience probably came at Seven Hills winery.

The winery is located in Walla Walla center in an old, restored factory building. It really has a wonderful ambience. We were ushered through a terrific line-up of wines by a very charming, unpretentious pourer who really knew her stuff. The wines really impressed, including a knock-out syrah and some lush vineyard-designated cabernets.

When finished we asked about a tour. The winemaker was out of town, but the cellarmaster was beckoned and he dropped everything to give us a 20-minute tour. He was a very likeable gentleman from New Zealand who confessed to a dislike of sauvignon blanc when I asked what brought him to Washington. He didn't have to do this for us, but he did and helped make the day special.

That won't happen when Walla Walla becomes a "wine resort" and people are fighting for parking spaces and a spot at the tasting bar.


Anonymous Tammy said...

I just saw that article too. All those changes didn't even occur to me though. Interesting post.

9:38 AM  
Blogger Papa Bill said...

Hey John,
In case you didn't get the word, class is cxled tonight, Goldstein sick with something he got in Mexico. See you next week.

4:05 PM  
Blogger Catie said...

Huh? When Walla Walla becomes a wine resort? It already is a wine resort! We have 73+ wineries and growing. Two more hotels are being built and it will still not be enough. We are already trying to find those rare parking spots downtown, but that is nothing new. That's been a problem back since the 1960's. There is a new resort, "Illahee", wanting to come in at the east part of town. However, the good news is that it will take several more years before it ever becomes another Disney-Napa. The word is that we won't see it in our lifetime and if it happens that's okay with me. It is certainly better than the alternative - a dead community with no revenue.

4:15 PM  

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