The newest (and splashiest) addition to the wine scene in Walla Walla is direct from Rioja to Walla Walla , making Valdemar Estates (link to their parent web site) the first non-American winery in the state.
An amazing heritage in Spain starts a new chapter in Washington, under the direction of Jesús Martínez Bujanda, the fifth generation in this wine-making family. With an eye to both the established and the new, Jesús hired esteemed local winemaker Marie Eve Gilla to head up the Walla Walla project. This marriage of European wine tradition and New World know-how makes for a compelling and winning combination.
The winery, designed by Boxwood's Joe Chauncey and team is stunning! The design has been beautifully crafted to maximize the site, from the second-level tasting room and patio including a wall of water backdrop to the view that wine tasters come to the valley for - the Blue Mountains. On the ground level, a state-of-the-art production facility and for the visitor's viewing, future wines sleeping in their luxurious barrel and bottle alcoves lining the path to the tasting room. You have a choice of either the stairs or elevator. I was glad to see most visitors were using the stairs — perhaps a bit of effort in anticipation of enjoyment?
The tasting room is outfitted with modern furniture and cool lighting mported from Europe and was designed as a place to linger with friends. To encourage that lingering, Valdemar presents not only wine by the glass, flight or bottle, but also a tapas menu. Trust me, the Bonita Tuna in Piquillo Peppers with Citrus Aioli is heaven, especially when paired with a glass of their barrel-fermented 2017 Conde Valdemar Finca Alto Cantabria.
Currently, they are featuring their Spanish wines and their only released Washington wines - a set of three WA 2017 Syrahs (each from a different AVA) that they used to determine the suitability for their future releases. Their future releases will be under the brand’s label and are currently sleeping in the aforementioned barrel rooms.
Be sure to check out this destination on your next visit!