“Jazz and Wine Among Friends” to take place at the Walla Walla Incubators

Friends of Children of Walla Walla, a local non-profit dedicated to providing adult mentorship for Walla Walla youth, is holding their sixth annual “Jazz and Wine Among Friends” fundraising event. Formed in 1999, the organization has helped hundred of Walla Walla children build confidence, increase academic performance, and avoid delinquency. Embracing the vibrant music and wine scene in the Walla Walla Valley, executive director Mark Brown puts together a yearly weekend-long event featuring some of the best musicians and wineries in the area. The event is always a blast! All proceeds go to Friends to help vulnerable children in Walla Walla.

Walla Faces participated last year, hosting music at our downtown tasting room location. This year, we are upping the ante! On Saturday, August 24th, from noon to 3pm, “Jazz and Wine Among Friends” will at the Walla Walla Incubators, the site of the Walla Faces Winery!

Local artist Gary Winston will be among the artists playing at Jazz and Wine Among Friends.

Local artist Gary Winston will be among the artists playing.

The band, Soul Essentials, may be a new name, but the artists will be familiar to anyone who loves the Walla Walla music scene. Gary Winston, Gary Hemenway, and Doug Scarborough will be putting their own spin on soul-influenced jazz. The incubators will be rocking with their powerful tunes!

The Walla Faces winery will be open during this time. Guests are encouraged to drop in and purchase a glass of wine or do a wine tasting before, during, or after the music. It’s also a great opportunity to see a location where some of the most innovative new wineries produce their wares.

Tickets for the Saturday afternoon “Jazz and Wine Among Friends” event cost $10 and are available at the event or online at eventbrite.com. We hope to see you there!

How Did the Walla Walla Incubators Come to Be?

The Walla Walla Incubators are the home of some of the most innovative boutique wineries in the Walla Walla Valley. Stop by and you can both taste wines and meet winery owners and winemakers in their domain. I sat down with Jennifer Skoglund, the Airport Manager at the Walla Walla Regional Airport, to talk about the history of the Incubator project. Jennifer has been a part of the project since they built the original three buildings.

The idea came in the mid-2000s, when the Walla Walla Community College was just getting started. Students were graduating from the program, and there was increasing demand for new wineries to accommodate the influx of bright, aspiring winemakers.

Walla Walla Incubators at the airport.

Walla Walla Incubators at the airport

The money for the Incubator Project was appropriated within the State Capital by representative Bill Grant. Grant sadly passed away in 2009 after serving 22 years in the state House of Representatives. He represented the 16th legislative district, which Walla Walla County, Columbia County, southern Benton County and Pasco.

In 2006, with a simple line in the capital budget, the state set aside $1 million to build the original three Incubators. In 2008, the state appropriated another$500,000 for the second two buildings. In addition, the Port of Walla Walla put in an additional $400,000 for the project. The investment of the State and the Port allows the blossoming winery tenants the flexibility to focus their funds on the best equipment available.

The six year limit for the lease was built into the original project. To choose the six year maximum, the Port worked with Dr. Myles Anderson, founder of Walla Walla Vintners and the Interim Director of the Walla Walla Community College Viticulture Program, who initially helped launch the program in 2000. They also worked with Norm McKibben, managing partner in Seven Hills Vineyard, Les Collines Vineyard, Pepper Bridge Winery and Amavi Cellars. Anderson and McKibben helped design the size and the layout of the incubators. The incubators were built with the expectation that each winery would be making about 2,000 cases a year; This was based on Anderson and McKibben’s calculations that this production was the threshold for a startup to be successful. They also determined the length of “incubation”, determining that six years was enough time to “become profitable enough to move out into their own project”, Jennifer recalls.

The Incubators offer an escalated rental term. As the six years progress, the property becomes increasingly expensive to lease. Jennifer says that this ensures that wineries “do not become stagnant and feel that they can stay here too long”.

The initial three wineries were Adamant Cellars, Lodmell Cellars, and Trio Vintners. Trio was comprised of the Walla Walla Community College Viticulture Program grads. CAVU Cellars and Kontos Cellars moved in next. Trio’s old building is now occupied by Corvus Cellars, and Lodmell’s old building is the site of the Walla Faces winery!

The incubator project continues to support new, blossoming wineries. “I think it’s been very successful,” Jennifer asserted. “It gives people an avenue to start their dreams.”

Celebrate Walla Walla

The first Celebrate Walla Walla took place this past weekend. The 70 participating wineries came together to concretely demonstrate how special the Walla Walla Valley wine region is. On Saturday, Walla Faces hosted a winemaker dinner at our estate vineyard. The dinner featured the wines of four boutique wineries: CAVU Cellars, Corvus Cellars, Kontos Cellars, and, of course, Walla Faces! Each of these small wineries makes their wine at the Incubators at the airport. Our side-by-side wineries produce some of the most exclusive, innovative wines in Walla Walla.

The 77-degree Saturday was the perfect weather for sitting by the pool, admiring the flourishing Cabernet grapes, sipping wines, and dodging Angel, the winery dog, as she tried to acquire some snacks for herself.

The evening commenced with appetizers, including Copper River salmon flatbreads, topped with Dijon and local Monteillet fresh chevre. We also featured roasted red potatoes, which had been dug up that very morning from Chef Greg Schnorr‘s garden, and were complemented by a Parmesan souffle.  Mini BLTs made from jowl bacon also featured Chef Greg’s home-grown ingredients; Greg is known throughout Walla Walla for his hand-raised pork. Each of the four participating wineries cracked open a few crisp, chilled bottles to kick off the celebration! CAVU’s Barbera Rosé, Corvus’ Viognier, Kontos’ Gossamer White and Walla Faces’ Riesling all helped provide the ideal complement to the light appetizers and warm June day.

The second course included a Walla Walla Sweet Onion soup, with juicy braised oxtail at the bottom of the bowl. A toasted baguette covered in Gruyere was lovingly placed on top of each portion. This soup was paired with the Kontos Cellars 2009 Alatus Blend, a classic-tasting blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc that perfectly complemented the rich earthiness of the soup.

The third course was a duck confit ravioli, nested in an bolognese filled with more duck confit. A carrot and celery topping adorned the hand-made raviolis, which were created using duck eggs for the dough. Paired with the CAVU 2010 Barbera, a bold and spicy varietal that is an uncommon find in the Walla Walla Valley, the fatty duck flavors melted perfectly in my mouth.

The fourth course was a cherry stuffed pork chop straight from Chef Greg’s farm. “I named them after monsters this year,” Chef Greg quipped. “I believe that today we are eating ‘Kim Lard-Ashian’.” The bitter fresh arugula balanced the sweet, sage-stuffed cherries. The 2008 Walla Faces Fusion Red was the perfect pairing. This egg-white fined blend of Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Merlot, and Syrah has dark cherry flavors that perfectly complemented the cherries in this dish.

The fifth course was lamb with a wild mushroom demi glace over a spoonful of whipped potatoes, which was paired with a 2009 Corvus Syrah/Petite Sirah blend. The allspice, plum and pepper flavors make this earthy, full-bodied wine great for lamb dishes.

Desserts included dark chocolate truffles, fresh Klicker strawberries over Hungarian shortbread, candied walnuts and a myriad of cheeses, served with the Walla Faces Ice Wine.

The dinner was an incredible success, with the beauty of the Walla Faces Estate Vineyard, the mouth-watering flavor of the food, and the locally-made perfection of the wines melding together to showcase the best of what Walla Walla has to offer. We were happy to celebrate this region with both Walla Faces regular customers and brand new faces. Thank you to everyone who helped this event happen or who attended. For those of you who we didn’t see, please feel free to come visit all four wineries out in the “winery district” at the Incubators by the Walla Walla airport.

Walla Faces is moving our production to the incubators at the airport!

Between 2006 and 2008, the Port of Walla Walla built five Dr. Seuss-colored “incubator” buildings to serve as functional wineries for up-and-coming Walla Walla entrepreneurs. Walla Faces is excited to announce that we will be joining four other innovative wineries at the incubators. We will be in the green building– right in the middle of everything! We are currently busy moving everything in, painting and decorating the space. When it is done, it will be like an industrial art gallery, with white walls and a dark cork floor.

Walla Faces is excited about our new winery location because it will allow us to be much more hands-on in the winemaking process. When Matthew Loso, the Walla Faces winemaker, learned that we were signing the lease, he breathed a sigh of happiness. “Finally,” he said, “a home.” Up until now, we have done something called ‘custom crush’ and our barrels have been stored at another winery. Now, we are doing it all on our own, offering new opportunities for innovation and creativity.

We are also happy that we will be able to share the winemaking process with you. Walla Faces employees are always ecstatic to have visitors in the Tasting Room, and we welcome Walla Faces hotel guests and other visitors by appointment at our vineyard. However, this is the first time we will be able to share the actual act of winemaking with our customers. It is fantastic opportunity to see the production of small, local wineries in progress. You can even do a wine tasting in the bustle of the winery itself. When winter comes, we will also offer barrel tasting at the winery, letting you taste the wine as it progresses.

We haven’t moved in yet and we are still unpacking all of our shiny new equipment, so you will have to wait a little longer to come take a tour. But keep an eye on our facebook and blog! We will tell you when this busy building is open for business.

In the meantime, you can always visit us at the Walla Faces Tasting Room at 216 East Main.