Archive for August, 2017

College Cellars Continued

The remaining wines from the Walla Walla Enology & Viticulture Center:

Syrah 2014: By far, my favorite of the bunch, according to the four hearts I drew next to it! This was co-fermented with 7% Viognier, which adds preservative qualities, preserving color, adds green grape aromatics, with almost a Gewurztraminer spice. This wine is much more fresh than I’ve ever had with a straight Syrah. There are hints of spruce, and juniper. It would have been excellent with cedar plank salmon and a beautiful, joyful finish that is constantly evolving.

Cab “Seven Hills” 2015 – This cab is young, but it’s rich and luscious with dense fruit. The tannins don’t overpower this wine. The tannins and fruit aren’t warring, they’re dancing, in red velvet slippers. This cab smells of earth, tilled farm soil, and has a beautiful balance, with anise seeds and dark cherries.

GSM 2015 – A typical name that I would see through out my visit. This stands for Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre. This is a nice, simple wine, for all that’s blended into it. It is cherries and eucalyptus, and would be great with food.

Carmenere 2015: This Carmenere is a rich herbal paint splash of licorice, anise seeds, celery and basil, outlined in staunch red fruit, and forest greens. If I recall correctly, Tad said, “It’s like one big green grape, trying to stuff itself up your nose.”

Malbec 2015 – This Malbec is precisely what you would expect of a Malbec. It’s nicely herbal, with a pleasing balance between tannin and red plum juice. It’s weight is surprisingly hefty, contributed to by the Oak Program that the Enology & Viticulture Center offers its students as a learning tool.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the Enology & Viticulture Center. I hope to return at some point, and spend more than just a delightful afternoon there.



The Walla Walla Enology & Viticulture Center is one of the most amazing operations that I’ve seen. It’s a school for winemakers, teaching students to become wine makers, market wine, teach about wine, and serve wine. It’s tempting to run away to attend this school. Seriously tempting.

I was treated to a delightful run through of the current list of wines in the College Cellars Tasting Room, by Tasting Room Manager, (and the son of my orthodontist, of all people) Tad Ballweber. Tad’s knowledge of the processes of wine making, and the school itself were delightfully in depth, and there wasn’t a question that I posed that he couldn’t answer. Most of the grapes are grown on site, in the vineyard area where students learn to tend and care for the vines. Some grapes are donated from wineries.

The students are assigned to groups, and a varietal/type of wine to make, and each group makes a wine. These wines are then sold to help support the school.

I was impressed by the facilities, and how well they were suited to both teaching about, and making wine.

These are the wines that I tasted through:

“Scholarship Wine” 2016 – a heavy pineapply, cantaloupe mix with a starfruit frame blend of Muscat, Sauv blanc, and riesling.

“RVM” 2016 – A roussanne marsanne viognier blend. It explodes with herbal fruity viognier off the top, to lovely apples, slight pears, green leafy ferns, and unsettling bubblegum.

Chardonnay 2016 – A super-oaked 2×4. Not a fan.

Muscat Onttonell 2016 – 6% residual sugar. Tad calls this the “Michael Phelps” of the winery. The bottle was decorated with multiple awards. This wine is pineapple coffee-cake, succulent leaves, prickly pear, with maraschino cherries, and yellow Flathead cherries. It’s delightfully weighty, but light enough not to give one a post-drink headache.

“15 Temp” Tempranillo – This is a thick, rich expression of the grape, and is essentially wearing a cabernet dress on a tempranillo body. It’s not exactly mis-matched, but it’s flamboyant with black fruit, red plum delights, and decent tannins. It has an unsettling milky edge that makes it’s body flabby. A woman who’s never lifted a finger to do anything, but dresses up occasionally.

More to come.