Walla Walla Valley, WA
The Walla Walla Valley straddles southeastern Washington and northeastern Oregon. Walla Walla translates to “many waters” in reference to the land’s proximity to the Columbia, Snake and Walla Walla Rivers. Rain is a seldom occurrence here and the area only receives about 15 inches of annual rainfall. Like the rest of the Columbia Valley, the landscapes and soils of Walla Walla were largely shaped by the cataclysmic Missoula Floods which swept through at the end of the last Ice Age. The Walla Walla Silt Soil left behind is a well drained, sandy loess over Missoula Flood slackwater deposits and fractured basalt.
Viognier is most famously grown in France’s Rhone Valley. In the Southern Rhone Viognier is blended with Marsanne and Roussanne and in the Northern Rhone Viognier’s highest expression come from the appellation of Condrieu where the grape is bottled as 100% varietal. The wines are noted for being lush and round like Chardonnay but having much more intense floral aromatics and a somewhat oily texture. In Cote-Rotie Viognier is also co-fermented with Syrah to help stabilize color and increase freshness.
The tricky part of Viognier is when to harvest. If you pick too soon the grapes will not have developed their characteristic florality, and you’ll have a neutral, unidentifiable white. If you pick too late you’ll get the florality, but lose all your acidity and freshness and up with a flabby white wine pushing 15% ABV. We’ve had a number of requests for Viognier over the years and this is the first site and grower that we feel confident adding to our program.