Thursday, May 22, 2008

Walla Walla Wine Trip, Day 2

On Saturday we had a leisurely breakfast at our B&B -- our hostess was sick, so a friend was substituting as cook -- and then went back to the beautiful Waters Winery, which shares space with Gramercy where we'd been the night before. They make some fantastic wines; we especially enjoyed their 2006 Syrah (we both have a weakness for syrahs anyway) and their 2007 rosé.

After Waters, we drove out towards the Walla Walla airport, where quite a few wineries have set themselves up on land that was previously a military base. Many of the smaller and newer wineries are just using the old barracks or other existing buildings; our first stop, Dunham Cellars, was fortunate to have the use of a remodeled airplane hanger, which is a fantastically roomy space. I'd seen Dunham's 'Three-Legged Red' in several stores, mostly because I'm a sucker for a cute dog on a label. For some reason I hadn't really established in my mind the fact that the maker was in Walla Walla. When I discovered that Dunham was one of the wineries we were going to visit, I was looking forward to meeting Port, the famous 3-legged border collie.

We drove up to Dunham and were promptly greeted by a border collie named Maysy (with four legs) who made it very clear that I was expected to throw a tennis ball for her, but Port was nowhere to be seen.

After a couple of tosses of the ball, we went in to taste. I saw a table set off to the side with several bundles of flowers on it, along with pictures of Port. When I went over to get a closer look, I saw the note: Port had passed away the week before, at the age of 13; the flowers and pictures were a memorial. I know I never knew Port, but that news was devastating to me for some reason. He was obviously well loved and had a good life at and around the winery, but it's still terrible for anyone to lose a friend.

Dunham's wines were great, but we can get several of them locally already, so we settled on just one bottle of the '04 Cab-Sauv 'X', and two of their '04 Syrah.

Eventually we moved on to Buty. We'd heard good things, but didn't actually find their wines particularly to our liking. It didn't help that they were in one of the smallest of the older military buildings, and it was warm and muggy.

After a brief stop at the ultra-small 428, we left the airport area and went to one of the highlights of the day, K Vintners. It's hard not to like K; they have a beautiful winery, a fun attitude (the White Stripes were blasting out of the back when we were there), and best of all, fantastic wines.

Before headi
ng back into town, we stopped in for a pre-arranged appointment at Abeja. Built on the grounds of an old, restored and modernized farm, Abeja is both a B&B and a working winery. Somewhat predictably, their wines tend to be a little on the high-priced side of things, but we still managed to leave with a few!

We stopped in Walla Walla at the magic-themed Sleight of Hand Cellars, and then were back out in the direction of Waters again, but this time to visit Va Piano. Our hostess
was obviously tired after a long day of dealing with wine limos; we felt bad for her!

After that it was a change for dinner at Saffron, an after-dinner drink at 26 Brix again, then bed for a well-deserved slumber.

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