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A Weekend in Walla Walla


I just got back to Seattle tonight after spending a few days in one of my favorite places in Washington wine country: Walla Walla. During this trip, I was able to visit a number of wineries in the valley, including Isenhower, Saviah, Zerba, Otis Kenyon, Dunham, Mannina, Kontos, and Adamant.

Best of all was our dinner at Saffron last night, a wonderful restaurant that I will be covering in an upcoming post. This was our second visit to Saffron and it just blew us away again in terms of the food, wine, service, and setting. If you're planning a visit to Walla Walla anytime soon, be sure to make time for a dinner at Saffron.

Also, I will be posting about my winery experiences soon, but wanted to share some general takeaways while these visits are fresh in my mind. Overall, I was really pleased with the friendly staff and hospitality shown at each winery.

And it took a while for my palate to adjust to the full, ripe style of Walla Walla winemaking. Even after spitting all day, my mouth was pretty taxed from the red wines I sampled. I can't imagine sitting down to dozens of these wines to assess their quality as most critics do.

The most memorable wines were the 2007 wines that were poured, both whites and reds. I am really excited about this vintage for Washington state, as there are some terrific wines that have been released from various producers in the Walla Walla Valley.

Here's what I purchased as a result of my visits over the weekend (alphabetical order):

Dunham Cellars Riesling Lewis Estate Vineyard Columbia Valley (13.4%) - $26
Dunham Cellars XI Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley (13.4%) - $45
Cali 2006 Cab/Merlot/Syrah Walla Walla Valley (13.5%) - $17
Isenhower FOI 2007 Merlot Horse Heaven Hills (14.5%) - $24
Isenhower Road Less Traveled 2007 Cab Franc Wahluke Slope (14.5%) - $24
Isenhower Wild Alfalfa 2007 Syrah Columbia Valley (14.5%) - $24
LeeFeLooLee 2007 Gossamer White Columbia Valley (13.6%) - $22
Otis Kenyon 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley (14.3%) - $32
Saviah 2006 Malbec Walla Walla Valley (14.1%) - $30
Saviah 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley (14.1%) - $28
Zerba 2007 Semillon Columbia Valley (14.1%) - $18
Zerba 2006 Cab Franc Columbia Valley (13.6%) - $30
Zerba 2006 Syrah Columbia Valley (13.7%) - $30

Full Disclosure: I have in-laws and friends that are associated with Isenhower Cellars, therefore visit this winery regularly. As such, I will not be including them in my winery reviews. Please read my full disclosure statement for more details.


Thad, I love Saffron, too. I dined there the last time I was in Walla Walla.

Are you interested in sharing this or your upcoming posts with Tourism Walla Walla? Our client is having a contest asking people to submit something about their last trip to Walla Walla. Four people will be selected to return to Walla Walla and blog about the visit. Free passes, lodging, etc. is part of the package.

Ok, so I'll admit I'm a huge Zerba fan - Can you tell?

I plan to hit the Feast of Walla Walla April 11 and I'll definately check out your restaurant recommendation, Saffron.

Pamela @ Enobytes

I will be traveling to Walla Walla as usual for Spring Release in a few weeks and can't wait to hear your thoughts on the wines you sampled. How enjoyable is that Saviah Malbec?

I had a similar experience regarding the ripeness of Walla Walla wine recently. I traveled to Napa Valley about a month back. Going from Washington to Napa and back to Washington wine was quite a gear shift. I was particularly struck by how dry the Napa wines were in comparison (I mean that in a positive way).

I haven't been to Saffron yet (can't seem to pull myself away from Whitehouse Crawford!) but have heard nothing but good things. I will look forward to reading your writeup.

I had the opportunity to taste Zerba wines last July at the Guest Chef on the Waterfront fundraiser event in Seattle, organized and hosted by FareStart. I remembered enjoying their wines very much, but haven't heard or seen much of them since. I am very excited to hear your review of their 2007 vintage (particularly of their syrah)!

Also, I've started noticing a lot more single bottlings of Cab Franc, including two in your purchases listed here. Any thoughts on the rising popularity of the bottling of this grape by itself, as opposed to combining it with others to make French-style blends?

Thanks for all of the comments and heads up on upcoming events. I look forward to sharing my experiences at the Walla Walla wineries I visited. Also, I am writing a feature on cab franc, which is based on attending a seminar last weekend as well as tasting some of the single variety wines. Stay tuned...

Thank you Thad, we enjoyed you as well. Your kind words about our staff and establishment are greatly appreciated and I will pass the message on.

Look forward to your next meal with us...
Island & Chris Ainsworth

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