A New Home for the Tasting Room

If you stroll down Walla Walla’s Main Street and stop at a familiar address, you may be in for a surprise: our downtown tasting room is empty!

Empty tasting room

Now that we’ve moved, the downtown tasting room sure looks empty!

After five years in the same place, we finally decided it was time to move to another location: our winery among the Walla Walla Incubators.

Five Years of History

Walla Faces has been at the downtown tasting room for quite some time. In November 2009, we poured some of our very first bottles of Walla Faces wine behind its doors–a 2006 Fusion, 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2006 Syrah. We loved meeting all the different people who came to visit, from our hotel guests to Walla Walla locals, and everyone in between!

Crowd of people at Walla Faces

For more than two years, the downtown tasting room was a popular place for live music.

For a number of years, the downtown tasting room featured live music on a weekly basis. Many local musicians came out to play at the tasting room, drawing crowds and adding another hot spot to Walla Walla’s nightlife. Although the live music events were eventually discontinued, we were always happy to give back to the community in that way.

We see this move as an extension of that sense of community. Although we’re sad to leave the downtown tasting room, we’re excited to announce that its place on Main Street, as well as two other storefronts in the Hungate Building, will soon be filled by a variety of independent restaurants. We love Walla Walla’s rich variety of dining options, and are eager to see how these new businesses add to it!

(To assuage some concerns, if you’ve enjoyed staying at our downtown inn in the past, never fear: the Walla Faces Inns at Historic Downtown haven’t gone anywhere.)

Our New Location

But we’re hardly done pouring tastes of our Walla Faces wine! Even though the downtown tasting room is closed, you can still sample and buy Walla Faces wine at our new location: the winery out near the Walla Walla Airport.

Walla Faces winery

Our new home: The Walla Faces winery!

Our tasting room at the airport is just a few minutes’ drive from both of our hotel locations–in fact, from the winery’s front door, you can see the green leaves of the Walla Faces Estate Vineyard. What’s more, since this building also houses our production facilities, while you enjoy a tasting at our new location, not only can you learn about our wine and the Walla Faces story, but you can also watch co-winemaker Victor de la Luz hard at work, carefully crafting Walla Faces’ future wines! A tasting out at the winery puts you at the heart of the Walla Faces experience, from vine to barrel to bottle.

Visiting Us

Our new tasting room is open every day from 11am-5pm, which makes it perfect for a number of different itineraries. If you’re staying at our downtown hotel, try starting your tastings off with a visit to the winery. Not only do our early hours make us perfect for starting a day of tasting, but our location at the airport, surrounded by other fantastic wineries, means you can follow up your Walla Faces visit with an assortment of other tastings before you head back into town! If you’re staying at the vineyard, it’s easy to make one last stop at Walla Faces on your way back to the inn–after all, we’re only two minutes off the highway!

And of course, as you’ll notice when you visit, there’s no shortage of beautiful views.

Golden wheat and blue skies

From the front door of the new tasting room, you can see fields and fields of golden wheat.

This is a big change for Walla Faces, but we’re excited for the new opportunities it presents. Join us at our new tasting room–we can’t wait to see you!

Visit us at the new Walla Faces Winery and Tasting Room!
598 Piper Ave., Walla Walla, WA 99362
Open daily 11am-5pm
(877) 301-1181

“Pairing on Main” Raises Money for Cancer Fund

September 21st was a busy day in the Walla Faces Tasting Room. (It was one of those days where your pace has to be consistently stay between a fastwalk and a sprint.) Not only did we have an endless stream of customers during our regular tasting hours, between 1 and 6, at 6pm the entering crowds became a veritable flood. It was time for “Pairing on Main”, a food and wine event organized by Providence Saint Mary Medical Center, a local full-service hospital.

2013 was the 9th annual Providence Saint Mary Gran Fondo. Gran Fondo, which means, “the Great Ride” started out as a bike riding event to help raise money for the Cancer Special Needs fund. This fund is essential for providing support to local cancer patients. Help ranges from medication to wigs and supportive undergarments for breast cancer patients. Since its advent, it has expanded, allowing participants to choose an event, including a walk, a motorcycle ride, a 5k fun run, a horse trail ride, and a cycling event. For the past five years, Providence Saint Mary has also organized a “Pairing On Main”, which couples local wineries and restaurants to create a series of culinary experiences as guests. This is Walla Faces’ second year participating in “Pairing on Main”.

100% of the money that is raised from Gran Fondo goes directly to Walla Walla patients and their care.

I sat down with Mardi Hagerman, the Providence Saint Mary Resource Nurse, who was the brains behind Gran Fondo. “I was the original act in town for it!” she proclaims. “We needed to make some money for the special needs fund… the idea came up in the hallway with a nurse who was a cyclist, working with the Whitman cycling team.” The addition of “Pairing on Main” was the brainchild of Walla Walla Chef and Caterer Ceil Blain. “It just took off!” Mardi notes.

Participants receive a wineglass and a map. They migrate from tasting room to tasting room, each of which provides a sample of wine and a perfectly paired bite-sized hors d’œuvre, catered by one of Walla Walla’s finest restaurants. The first “Pairing on Main” sold 75 tickets. Now, the capacity has been bumped up to 150. “We’re not going to go above that because we are cognizant of the generosity of our vendors on main street, who are donating their food and wine… the restaurants are still serving guests plus doing our event!” Mardi confirms. “Our downtown proprietors are so generous.”

Mardi continues, “[This year] was very successful.” The 2013 Gran Fondo raised a record-breaking $29,000 for the Providence Saint Mary Cancer Fund. “The first year, we made $900,” Mardi notes. “Every year, people are a little more familiar with us and a little more sensitive to our cause. After all, there’s no one that isn’t affected by this diagnosis, whether it is a personal diagnosis or a family diagnosis.”

Our Pairing on Main Volunteer, Mardi Hagerman, and Walla Faces Owner Debbie Johnson Pose for a Photo

Our “Pairing on Main” Volunteer, Mardi Hagerman, and Walla Faces Owner Debbie Johnson Pose for a Photo

Mardi is not only in charge of organizing the event, she is the brawn behind the operation as well! “I’m the waitress,” she says. “I help out where I’m needed. I got my food handler’s permit so that I could do the grunt work.”

This year, Walla Faces was paired with Whitehouse Crawford. We served both our 2008 Syrah, a library wine with a perfect balance of white pepper and blackberry notes, and our 2010 Riesling, an off-dry wine that’s as complex as it is crisp. After tasting our wine, Whitehouse Crawford Head Chef Jamie Guerin prepared a Capocollo, jalapeño, goat cheese, and arugula salad-stuffed gougères. These cheesy French pastries are a wine-pairing classic; in France, they are traditionally consumed in wine cellars as a part of a wine tasting. In addition to donating our wine, 25% of Walla Faces bottle sales during the “Pairing on Main” were donated to the Providence Saint Mary Cancer Fund.

“Every year, I am overwhelmed by the generosity of this community,” Mardi says. “I have met so many wonderful people thanks to ‘Pairing on Main’, who have a strong heart for what we do.”

Wine 101: How To Do a Wine Tasting

It’s always handy to have a quick review on the steps of one of our favorite activities: wine tasting! Each step of the wine tasting process allows the person drinking the wine to fully appreciate the flavors and aromas of the wine. Once you’ve uncorked a gorgeous bottle, what steps come next?

Wine Tasting Step #1: See

Watch as the wine is poured into the glass. Different elements of the color will become apparent as the wine is poured. Holding the glass by the stem, hold the glass up to the light. By keeping your warm hands away from the bowl, you prevent your fingers from heating up the wine, which can cause a brash alcohol flavor, which may disguise the more subtle flavors hiding in your glass.

The color of the wine can reveal a great deal about the wine. Different grape varieties can produce different wine colors. For example, a Pinot Noir will look nothing like the deep, intense red of a Cabernet Sauvignon. The intensity of the color can cue the observer to how light or heavy the wine may be. Looking carefully, a slight blue hue may indicate the level of acidity.

The opacity of the wine can also yield important clues. For example, an unfined wine like the Walla Faces Cabernet Sauvignons will be much deeper and more opaque than fined wines, like the Fusion Red. Looking at the Fusion’s rim variation, the gradation of color at the edge of the wine, can help the viewers predict its clarity and smoothness. The opacity of the Cabernets suggests that they will be more full-bodied, with great tannins. As they age over the next few years, they will also gain some brown rim variation.

How To Do a Wine Tasting: See

Wine Tasting Step #2: Swirl

Holding the wine glass at the base, swirl the wine. This allows the wine to oxygenate a bit, revealing the true aromas of the wine.

In addition, the aromatic compounds of the wine are released into the air, making them easier to smell.

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Wine Tasting Step #3: Smell

Anyone who has ever had a cold knows that tasting is mostly scent. When your nose is plugged up, it’s impossible to taste your dinner, let alone your wine. Wine connoisseurs have known the importance of your sense of smell for centuries.

To smell your wine, stick your nose into the glass and take a deep inhale. Try to determine what flavors you are smelling. Is the wine spicy? Pungent? Floral? Take a few good sniffs, and be sure to compare your first and second impressions.

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Wine Tasting Step #4: Sip

Of course, if you are doing a wine tasting, you have to taste some wine! Start with a small sip to cleanse your palate. Next, allow the wine to hit all parts of your tongue. Different parts of your mouth will reveal different flavors. If you like, you can slurp the wine in your mouth, allowing for even more oxygenation.

The wine will change in your mouth. The first phase of wine tasting is called the attack phase, where the alcohol, tannins, acidity, and residual sugar are clear. Next, in the evolution phase, the flavor profile of the wine comes out.

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Wine Tasting Step #5: Swallow

There aren’t very fancy instruction for swallowing! Be sure to note how long the finish remains in your mouth. Some wines will persist on your palate, whereas others will have a more short-lived finish.

Of course, don’t forget the more important wine tasting step!: savor and enjoy the wonderful wines you had the opportunity to try!

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Cheers!

What is Barrel Tasting Weekend?

One of our most beloved holiday traditions has just arrived: Holiday Barrel Tasting Weekend! This festive event offers an exclusive opportunity to taste future vintages before they make their way into the bottle. We have carefully selected a few of our favorite barrels to help provide a unique and exciting sample of Walla Faces wines. This is the perfect opportunity for those of you who can’t wait for this wine to make it into the barrel!

This is also your first chance to check out our new winery at the airport. This tiny location forms the backbone of Walla Faces’ wine production operation. We are actively working on new projects right now. Drop by, get a sample, and meet our assistant winemaker, Victor De La Luz, who is bustling about the winery, hard at work.

Downtown, at the Tasting Room, we have opened up a bottle of our Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, the Matthew. It is named for our head winemaker, Matt Loso. This fruit-forward Cab was made from the free run of 100% Walla Faces Estate Cabernet grapes and is normally not available to the general public.

We hope to see you this holiday weekend! Cheers!

The Walla Faces Tasting Room at 216 East Main St. is open 1-6pm.
The Walla Faces Winery at 598 Piper Ave. is open 11-5pm.

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

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.