Winemaker Profile: Chris Camarda

Joining as consulting winemaker, Chris Camarda may be the newest member of the Walla Faces team, but he’s hardly an industry novice. Camarda opened Andrew Will Winery in 1989. “I’d worked in the restaurant industry a long time,” he says. “I always ordered the wine!” Andew Will was named for his nephew, Andrew, and his son, Will. Will is currently working at Andrew Will Winery, making it a family affair.

Camarda was mentored by Gary Figgins of Leonetti Cellar, Rick Small of Woodward Canyon Winery, and Alex Golitzin of Quilceda Creek Vintners, all of whom were founding figures in the Washington wine scene. Camarda recalls, “At first, I was copying them. They looked at my wines and gave me some critiques.” He quickly learned, however, to integrate their lessons into a style that was all his own. “They were three very different people and I got different ideas from each of them.”

Chris Camarda

Chris Camarda

His first vintage, sixteen barrels of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, was an instant success. “People liked the wine and that was a big help! Making wine is one thing but selling it is another.” His first cases were snatched up by Seattle Wine Shops, allowing Camarda a foot in the door of the wine industry.

From 2000-2003, Camarda put his methodological mind to work, testing vineyards to find the perfect grape source. “The weather and the vineyard are everything”, he asserts. Camarda looks critically at vineyards for detail work and other signs of a quality grape source. “It’s not like a vineyard, it’s like a garden,” he says. His work on these vineyards transformed his winemaking. He moved from making single-varietal wines to single-vineyard blends. By highlighting the unique attributes of the vineyard itself, Camarda was able to capture the essence of the location.

Andrew Will is still a small operation, making 5,000 cases a year that are quickly snatched up by wine lovers.

Although his vineyard-focused approach was revolutionary, Camarda has a classical eye for winemaking. “I have a lot of respect for tradition,” he says. “I think that although Washington was not a part of that tradition ninety years ago; now we are.” Using his unique blend of traditional methods and off-the-wall ideas, Camarda is able to create something truly unique. “There is a tendency for people to want to make their wines the same and I want mine to be different”, he says. “People just copy what wine critics have liked. In the end, it all ends up being the same. You have one wine and it’s all 100-point wine… It’s the depth, focus, layers, and complexity that makes the great wines, and that’s what I focus on.”

Given Camarda’s dedication to offering unconventional, high-quality wines, it’s no wonder that Into Wine named him as the 33rd most influential winemaker. The 2013 vintage will be his first wines for Walla Faces.

Taking Home the Gold!

The Dallas Wine Competition is a celebrated annual event that honors the best wines available, including entries from both the United States and worldwide. With judges that included wine writers, wine instructors, winemakers, master sommeliers and more, this prestigious group of wine experts were able to pick out the true gems of the worldwide wine industry.

Walla Faces is proud to announce that, out of 2,704 entries representing 25 states and sixteen countries, the Walla Faces Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon was one of the select few wines to win a gold medal, the highest honor.

2008 Matthew

2008 Matthew

The Walla Faces Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, the Matthew, is a free run wine with grapes exclusively from the Walla Faces Estate Vineyard. Free run wines are wines made from both the natural breakdown of the grapes during primary fermentation and from the pressure of the grapes pressing down on each other. This allows the wine to generate a greater sophistication, a more elegant mouthfeel, and a smoother flavor. In addition, a free run wine will have more aging potential than a pressed wine.

The Walla Faces Reserve Cab is a fruit-forward wine with a lustrous blackberry bouquet. Its polished midpalate unfolds on the tongue exquisitely, with a fully body and perfect balance. The grapes from this wine are local, growing on the rich volcanic ash that makes the Walla Walla Valley the ideal place for growing Cabernet grapes.

This Matthew is the most exclusive wine offered by Walla Faces. We only made 176 cases. Because it is so special, it is usually only available to Walla Faces wine club members. However, in celebration of our spring release this year, it will be available to everyone for a limited time in May!

A Walla Faces Christmas

Twas some weeks before Christmas, when all through the west
Washingtonians were in a state of unrest
With stockings all hung and trees set out with care
They needed some great gifts to put under there.

The children were happy to eat sugarplums
To play with toy cars and to bang on loud drums
“These kids will have all of the gifts they could want,”
You said with a smile, “But what for my aunt?”

You sip from your glass and your eyes open wide!
An idea arrives that is only upside
This plum-colored vintage has numerous graces
You’ll gift some great wine from where else? Walla Faces!

This surely will cheer your hard-to-please friend
Should you get the Syrah? Or the Cabernet Blend?
For those who drink whites, the Riesling appeals
With a bottle of Ice Wine to sweeten the deal.

If you live north, on the coast, or outside of the state
Grab six bottles online, get a free shipping rate
For those who are Washington’s southeastern legion
We’re hardly a drive! We’re right in your region!

The Tasting Room’s decked out with holiday cheer

With hopes that you’ll drop by and visit us here
With drinks to be drunk and wine gifts to obtain
Stop in one to six at two sixteen East Main.

A Gift From Walla Faces

A Message From Rick and Debbie Johnson

More than two years ago, Walla Faces began featuring live music as part of its “Arts” program.  We initially started with music one night a week and gradually built it to five nights a week this summer.  It has been a fun project and very rewarding to see all of the local talent play in our tasting room.   Many of our local performers have impressively grown and expanded their musical skills over the last couple of years.  I like to think we played a small part in that development by offering them our venue in which to play.

In addition to our many talented local performers, we have had many nationally known performers play in our tasting room.  It is hard to believe we had the likes of The Posies, Randy Hansen, Susan Gibson and many other nationally known performers play right here in Walla Walla.  And of course, the capstone and high point of the last two years was Walla Faces promoting and sponsoring Peter Frampton playing in Walla Walla at Cordiner Hall.  For me that will definitely be a life memory.

Along with the music program, Walla Faces has also grown.  Since we first opened our doors a little over two years ago, we have been pleasantly surprised about the acceptance of the Walla Faces wine brand.   Our wine sales have been growing.  Continued growth is going to require changes on our part to increase our production to meet demand.  Up until now, we have been sharing our wine making with another local winery.  We now are moving into our own winery out by the airport.  This move will help us to increase our production and have better control of our product.  It is also going to require more time on our part to monitor the wine and expanded production.

Starting November 1, we are going to have to suspend our music program for the near several months because of these new time constraints.    We hope to bring back music in one form or another in the future.  We are exploring many options to include music as part of our tasting room and winery experience.

We sincerely appreciate your warm support and hope to see you in the tasting room, or at the airport winery – especially when we have special events to share with YOU!  Please stop in and say hello!  We will be open downtown on a daily basis from 1-6pm.  We are working on our hours at the airport, but they will be mostly on the weekends.  Again, please do stay in touch!

Fondly,
Rick & Debbie Johnson and the entire Walla Faces Team

Fall Release Weekend is Almost (Finally) Here!

This weekend, we are expanding both our tasting menu and the bottles that we have available for sale.

Firstly, it is the grand release of Janice, the Walla Faces 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine has a core of ripe fruit that leads to an opulent but focused mid-palate. It is well built with fine grain tannin that allows it be be both balanced and expansive, lingering on the finish. This is a lush Cabernet that will age gracefully for a least 10 years.

We also have a special addition to our Tasting Menu that will be available for this weekend only. The Matthew, the Walla Faces 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, is our wine-club member exclusive wine. It is made from the free run of our estate grapes and is placed in 100% French Oak barrels. This wine possesses terrific ripeness. It is beautiful and surprisingly sweet with well-integrated tannins, plenty of black and blue fruit flavors, full body, and great balance. Although this wine is exclusive to wine club members, anyone who drops by this weekend will get a chance to taste this amazing wine. And, of course, wine club members (including new members!) are welcome to walk out with as many bottles as they would like. Although, since we only made 176 cases of this wine, it is sure to go fast!

Finally, we are releasing the 2006 Fusion, a Cab Blend, and the 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon in the Magnum size. These 1.5 liter bottles will be perfect for the holiday season. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, be sure you ask about these bottles next time you are in the Walla Faces Tasting Room.

Although we are normally open for tastings between 1 and 6pm, for this weekend only we will be open from 1 to 7pm!

Drop by our Tasting Room at 216 East Main St. to get your hands on these new releases.

Behind the Scenes at the Walla Faces Wine Club

 

As many of you are already aware, last week Walla Faces was hard at work packing up wine club shipments! It’s always a big endeavor to get wine club shipments out to our wine club members, who live all across the United States. We thought we would show you a little bit of what goes on at wine club shipment time behind the scenes.

This is the first wine club shipment that has included a bottle of Matthew, the 2008 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. This complex, full-bodied wine is made from the free run of the Walla Faces Estate Cabernet grapes and available exclusive to wine club members. We only made 176 cases of the wine! Because this was the first shipment to include a Reserve Cab, we pulled out all the stops. Both Matthew Loso, our winemaker, and Candice Johnson, our artist, signed every single bottle of Reserve Cab! It made for both elegant bottles and very sore hands.

A polished black and white folio gave our wine club members an update on Walla Faces, information on how to best enjoy some of our new wines, and, of course, warm wishes from Rick and Debbie, the owners.

Although we only ship every six months, we spend all year brainstorming on ways to make our wine club even more special. This shipment, we included beautiful handmade glass winestoppers that looked even more stunning against our striking labels.

Bottles With Wine Stoppers

Don’t our Cabernets look beautiful adorned with these wine stoppers? In addition to our Reserve Cabernet, our wine club members received a special early release of the Janice, our Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. Janice will be released to the public later this year.

Everything all packed up and ready to go! Each case looks a little difference because we tailor our shipments to your preferences.

It was hard work, but we have finished and gotten our wine club members their packages, save for a few Walla Walla residents who haven’t picked up their shipments in the Walla Faces Tasting Room just yet.

If you are interested in learning more about the Walla Faces wine club, check it out on our website here. Alternatively, if you are in Walla Walla, drop by the Tasting Room at 216 East Main St.! It’s not too late to get some awesome holiday specials available only to wine club members.

Fall Release Sneak Preview: Magnum Bottles!

If you have dropped by the Walla Faces Tasting Room in the past few days, you have probably noticed the large bottles on the edge of the counter. “Magnum”, which means “extra-large” in Latin, is the term for these generously sized bottles. A standard bottle of wine holds 750 milliliters. A magnum holds twice as much– 1,500 ml, or 1.5 liters.

Magnum

Magnum and a bottle of our Fusion

Wine takes longer to age in a magnum bottle because there is a greater ratio of wine to air. This ratio allows the wine to develop evenly and smoothly. Many wine experts believe that the size of a magnum bottle allows the wine to age with grace, increasing its complexity and sophistication.

Walla Faces is preparing for Fall Release, where we will be offering some of our most beloved older vintages in the magnum size. The 2006 Janice, a classic Walla Walla-grown Cabernet Sauvignon, and the 2006 Fusion, a delicious blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc and 3% Syrah, were two of the Walla Faces wines that helped give us our start. For long-time fans, this is an opportunity to try some of your favorite wines again, and to see how the magnum bottle enhanced their flavor and richness. For people who have been introduced to Walla Faces more recently, it is a chance to try a limited re-release of older vintages that are otherwise no longer available. Because wine in magnum bottles takes longer to mature, we have allowed our magnum bottles to age for an additional two years to ensure that they will have developed perfectly.

Magnums and bottles of Fusion and Cabernet

Magnums and Bottles of Fusion and Cabernet

Magnum bottles are the perfect addition to large events. You might want to consider bringing a magnum bottle of Walla Faces wine to Thanksgiving, Christmas dinner, or other holiday celebrations. The wine lovers at your table with certainly be impressed!

Walla Faces Magnums will be available for $99 apiece starting Fall Release Weekend, November 2-4, 2012.

How to Use Walla Faces Wines at Thanksgiving

Many of our customers are already starting to think about bringing Walla Faces wine to their Thanksgiving tables. Here are some tips and tricks for pairing our wine with your favorite dishes:

Thanksgiving Wine Pairing

Wine and Turkey

What are you eating? Turkey, of course!
What should you pair with it? Walla Faces 2010 Riesling
Our Riesling is light, with a beautiful balance of sweetness and dryness to pair perfectly with both white and dark meat. The apricot and honey essence of the wine brings out your favorite autumn-inspired flavors and adds a layer of complexity to a perfectly cooked slice of turkey. (It also goes great with sweet potatoes!)

What are you eating? Herb-infused stuffing
What should you pair with it? Walla Faces 2008 Syrah
Our Syrah is rich and hearty, with a touch of white pepper. Its complexity makes it versatile enough to pair with your family’s favorite stuffing recipe, bringing out the juicy, meaty flavors.

What are you eating? Mashed potatoes and gravy
What should you pair with it? Walla Faces 2008 Fusion
The Cabernet in our smooth, delicious blend complements your savory, homemade gravy without overwhelming the creamy potatoes. Red wine-exclusive drinkers will also love the Fusion paired with turkey.

What are you eating? Pumpkin pie
What should you pair with it? Walla Faces 2008 Ice Wine
Because the Walla Faces Ice Wine manages to stay light, rather than getting too syrupy, it lifts the denseness of the pumpkin pie and highlights the spices. The sweetness parallels the flavors in your pumpkin pie fabulously.

So Long, Dear Frank!

Photo 795As many of you already know, we are on our last few bottles of the Walla Faces 2007 Syrah, the Frank. We only made 265 cases and we only have about two cases left.

This 100% Syrah was grown on our herbicide-free vineyards right outside of town. The grapes were harvested in early October 2007. The wine then aged a full 30 months in the barrel, adding both an earthy finesse and a fruity aroma.

Wine Spectator rated the Frank 90 points, saying it was “supple, generous and deftly balanced to play its blackberry and wild blueberry fruit against earthy notes, finishing with drive and finesse.”

Luckily, we have decided to sell the final few bottles in the Tasting Room for $30 a piece. We only have a few left, so be sure to stop by soon if you want to secure one for yourself!

National Ice Cream Month is for white wine lovers too!

Minolta DSC

When we posted our National Ice Cream Month recipe, some of you asked if we had a recipe for white wine lovers as well. Luckily, we have something perfect for you as well: A Walla Faces Riesling Sorbet!

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups sugar
6 cups water
2 cups Walla Faces Riesling
Juice of 2 oranges
Juice of 2 lemons

Mix sugar, water and wine in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the mixture has a syrup-like consistency. Let cool to room temperature (about an hour). Let refrigerate at least four hours (up to overnight). Stir in orange and lemon juices. Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.