Any great Walla Walla wineries that do private tours?
We're taking a short trip down over to Walla Walla in November and are planning on checking out a few wineries. We've had great success in Willamette and Sonoma with setting up private tours at smaller, less travelled wineries. Does anyone have any suggestions for small wineries in the Walla Walla area that might do informal private tours? I'd also be open to suggestions for great, off-the-beaten path wineries that I might not know about.
Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
I've done the barrel tasting and Cayuse weekends there, and it seems like a lot of the wineries are really open to showing folks around, as long as they're not swamped. Reininger in particular took us barrel tasting in the back for a good long while, and we got to try some of their oddball barrels. It was a hoot. Yellow Hawk is a very small operation, with a very unique style, and I could see them doing a fun tour if they had enough warning.
I bet if you go during a non-event weekend, you'll get great face time. I've never been to Sonoma, but the Walla Walla wineries generally seem more laid back than the Willamette ones.
If you drive along the Columbia, you might want to check out Cascade Cliffs on your way to or from. We've had some fun there with employees in the past. We could have just hung out in front of the wood stove all day and drank, as far as they were concerned. Fun, and a different style as well.
I've only done 1 trip to Walla Walla, but my experience is that the wineries there operate at a very diffierent volume/speed than Sonoma (haven't visited Willamette yet). I emailed the 4 or 5 wineries we planned to visit, and generally, the responses I got were from the wine makers themselves or from another knowledgeable/decision making person of their very small staff.
When I corresponded with Balboa, their tasting room was not open for the day I had hoped we would go. So the wine maker offered to host a private tasting for us. In the end, he was called out of town on short notice, but his wife (who is also the artist of their labels) and is very well versed in the wines, poured for us. Just our small group of 8, with our children playing with hers.
The whole trip, there wasn't a tour bus in sight.
Thanks for the thoughtful replies. I'll definitely try and check these places out and report back.
YoYo, The vast majority of Walla Walla wineries buy their grapes from vineyards and don't have big estate type facilities. (Horse Heaven Hills is an excellent example.) Most of the really good wineries in Walla Walla are in quansit huts or cinder block bunkers out by the airport looking like dead dot-com start-ups. Their unpretencious approach is dramatically different from Sonoma. I strongly suggest you visit Flying Trout wines located at the north end of downtown. Their facility is in an abandoned service station with no remodeling touches other than a broom. What you will find there will amaze you.
With close to 200 wineries in the area there is a wide veriety of garages all the way up to the totally upscale operations like leonetti and Basil cellars. The other area to checkoout is along the old milton hwy mostly 5-10 acre wineries like saviah cellers, rulo, eisenhower and a few others that I cannot remember there names . also out towards Mill Creek there are quite a few. are all friendly and usually give quality face time. but I am a local and avoid the ones that usually a crowded with the wine tour limos
Call the owners/winemakers of RULO, BUTY, ISENHOWER, CHATEAU ROLLAT, TERTULIA AND PATIT CREEK. You can get their info on www.wallawalla.org/directory.cfm The wines are excellent.
Don't miss L'Ecole 41 and Woodward Canyon in Lowden on the way into town and the tasting room for Nicolas Cole Winery in the center of town. A must for dinner is the Creekside Cafe but you need reservations. Good luck.
Patit Creek Restaurant
725 E Dayton Ave, Dayton, WA 99328
On the Way Cafe
395 E 3rd St, Lafayette, OR 97127
Trust Cellars in Walla Walla is great for a private appointment. Very small so not much of a tour, but the winemaker is a gracious host and seemed proud to barrel taste and share his time and great wines.. Don't try during regular tasting room hours though. He's usually the one pouring there wines too. Try Tertulia and Gifford-Hirlinger in the same general area as Trust. Beautiful views.