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

Why start a tasting with red wines?

If you’ve dropped by the Walla Faces tasting room, you may have noticed something a little unconventional about our tasting order: we start with our red wines and move to our whites. Usually, when you do a wine tasting, it’s the other way around entirely! So, what is the benefit of moving from red to white wines?

Although the order may seem unusual, the reason we, at Walla Faces, go from red to white comes from traditional wine tasting sequences. There are two classic orders for wine tasting. Firstly, people move from light wines to heavy wines. Because tannins can build up in your mouth, ending a tasting on richer, heavier wines prevents any residual tannins from tainting your impression of a lighter, more playful wine. The second classic tasting order involves starting with dry wines and ending with sweet wines. Moving from a sweet wine to a dry wine can cause the drier wine to taste comparatively sour. Thus, it’s usually best to “end on dessert”.

For many wineries, these two orders are the same. For example, a winery might start a tasting with a dry Chardonnay and end on a sweet, heavy Port. For us, they are not the same! We have a sweet, light dessert wine: our 2008 Ice Wine.

A Walla Faces wine tasting moves from red to white!

A Walla Faces wine tasting moves from red to white!

We’ve adjusted the traditional wine tasting order to really showcase the wines that we make, moving through the wines the same way you might move through a meal. We start with our ‘appetizers’, which are our lighter, smoother reds: the 2008 Fusion Red and the 2009 Syrah. We move to our ‘entrees’, the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2008 Reserve Cabernet. Finally, we end on our ‘desserts’, the 2010 Riesling and 2008 Riesling Ice Wine. Within the red wines, we stick to the classic ‘light to heavy’ order. However, by moving from red to white, we don’t affect our palettes by putting sweet wines ahead of their dry counterparts.

The “whites to reds” order is usually a good rule of thumb. However, it is sometimes necessary to adjust a rule to fit wines you want to highlight!

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.


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!



Walla Faces At the Woodland Park Zoo

Every year, the Woodland Park Zoo hosts a wine tasting event to raise money for field conservation, science education, animal care, and facility maintenance. The Woodland Park Zoo, a Seattle zoo opened in 1899, is a 92 acre property that is home to over 1,000 wild animals. This year, the “Tasting Flight” event took place on July 19th. Of course, Walla Faces trekked the five hour drive from Walla Walla to Seattle to be a part of it! The “after hours, adults-only” fundraiser turned out to be a blast!

We brought our 2008 Fusion Red, the Rick & Debbie, and our 2008 Syrah, the Caroline, to taste. Each of the 35 participating wineries had a table set up in the the zoo’s gorgeous North Meadow. The lovely, sunny weather was perfect for appreciating the beauty of both the zoo and the wines. Because the wineries were arranged alphabetically, we were neighbors with the wonderful Walla Walla Village Winery.

When the doors opened at 6pm, we were overwhelmed by the turnout of this sold-out event. We were also thrilled to meet so many Seattleites who had stayed with us in the Walla Faces hotel or who had visited the Walla Faces tasting room on their wine tourism adventures.

In keeping with the Woodland Park Zoo’s conservationist ideals, participants brought their own glasses to the event. We had a great time looking at the fun glasses that everyone brought! We saw everything from expensive Riedel glassware to mason jars, from light-up wine glasses to coffee cups. Regardless of the glassware used, Walla Faces was one of the evening’s favorites. Participants exchanged tickets for pours of wine, and we quickly found our decanter filled to the brim with yellow paper.

The penguin exhibit was open to wine tasters, and the penguins were happy to oblige viewers by sunning themselves and taking a dip. Wine and penguin-watching might just be my favorite wine pairing yet.

Our wines were available for sale in wine store, another tent that laid out each winery’s wares. Happily, at the end of the night, we found that we brought the perfect amount of wine; we came home with one bottle of each wine.

Thank you to everyone who visited us at the Tasting Flight event!

What’s In A Color?

When doing a wine tasting, the first characteristic that we examine is the color of the wine. Although mere appearances can only tell you so much about a wine’s flavor, these visual cues can hold important and interesting information.

Here are some things to look for on three of our favorite reds: the 2008 Fusion, the 2008 Syrah, and the 2008 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.

Can you spot the differences between these three gorgeous wines?

Is Hyperdecanting All Hype?

Traditionally, decanting wine involves pouring the wine into a larger receptacle and allowing it to sit and “breathe”. This helps to reduce the taste of tannins and the astringency. Additionally, it will help bring out the natural aromas and flavors. Decanters made of metal or earthenware have been traced back to the Roman Empire.

Although most Walla Faces red wines do not need to be decanted, our bold 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, the Janice, benefits from sitting in a decanter for about an hour at cellar temperature. Unfortunately, many of us are impatient creatures. Waiting an hour for a glass of wine can be a slow torture. That’s where hyperdecanting comes in.

Master Chef Nathan Myhrvold, author of the colossal (an expensive!) cooking volume Modernist Cuisine proposed hyperdecanting as a quicker method for decanting your favorite wine.

Myhrvold outlines his technique, stating “I just pour the wine in, frappé away at the highest power setting for 30 to 60 seconds, and then allow the froth to subside (which happens quickly) before serving. I call it ‘hyperdecanting.’ Although torturing an expensive wine in this way may cause sensitive oenophiles to avert their eyes, it almost invariably improves red wines—particularly younger ones, but even a 1982 Château Margaux. Don’t just take my word for it, try it yourself.”

So we did!

I wanted to test which method of wine would yield the most delicious results for the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon: undecanted wine, traditionally decanted wine, or hyperdecanted wine.

To ensure that our preconceptions about decanting and hyperdecanting didn’t play a role, the tastings were done blind. Everyone tried all three wines, but they tried them in different orders and they didn’t know what version they were trying.

20 participants tried the wines, ranked them in order from least favorite to favorite, and offered their tasting notes. I then assigned each ‘favorite’ three points, each ‘second favorite’ two points and each ‘least favorite’ one point.
The hyperdecanted wine and the decanted wine were the best liked, receiving almost identical scores. However, they got very different comments from the tasters.

Although the hyperdecanted wine had the mildest tannins, participants reported a bitter, unpleasant taste. The traditionally decanted wine still displayed very strong tannins, but had a richer bouquet and fuller, more flavorful body and a more appealing mouthfeel.

Given these comments, it is clear that hyperdecanting does change the flavor of the wine significantly. However, it is NOT the equivalent of traditional decanting.

For individuals who appreciate bold red wines, traditional decanting will offer a much better product with more flexibility, since you can choose how long you decant the wine. Still, if you are very sensitive to tannins, you might want to give hyperdecanting a try on an inexpensive bottle of wine.