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 Holiday Gift Guide for Luxury Travelers

Wine and Wanderlust in Walla Walla: An Experiential Luxury Traveler's Dream

Wine and Wanderlust in Walla Walla: An Experiential Luxury Traveler’s Dream

December 26, 2016
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Disclosure: My stay was hosted by Visit Walla Walla, but views are my own and accurately reflect my actual experience.

“A city so nice, they named it twice.” 

If I could sum up the wineries in Walla Walla in one word, it would be intimate. It’s all about the people — the humans that make the magic happen behind the scenes. There’s an emphasis on sharing the process and journey with others. All the winemakers that I met were not only warm and inviting, but they also were passionate about their craft and loved sharing that knowledge with others. Many even were doctors, lawyers, engineers, and scientists in their previous professions, and found that their love for small-town life and wine was too great to ignore.
I’ve been to Napa Valley many times now, and while I love it, it’s getting too big and corporate. The human element behind the big brands is starting to fade. However, in contrast, largely due to the spectacular hospitality and the fact that most wineries are independently-owned, Walla Walla simply has that certain je ne sais quoi that larger wine regions understandably lack. It’s a relatively new wine destination, dating back to the 1970s, but it has already carved out its own well-deserved identity.
From speaking to the winemakers directly to winery-hopping in style in a new eco-friendly Tesla to learning how to make my own wine, Walla Walla is an experiential luxury traveler’s dream. Thank you so much to the team at Visit Walla Walla for your incredible hospitality and showing me another beautiful part of Washington State.

During my quick weekend jaunt in Walla Walla, I learned:
  1. Walla Walla, Washington’s wine country does not disappoint one bit. There are more than 130 wineries in the Walla Walla Valley and most are independently-owned. It’s a hidden gem that I hope stays off the beaten track, but it’s unlikely. ??
  2. Walla Walla is known as Napa in bluejeans — a misnomer, in my humble opinion. The vibe is certainly more casual and less pretentious than Napa Valley, but it’s a gorgeous town in its own right, full of picturesque rolling hills and mountain vistas as far as the eye can see.
  3. Apparently, sparkling Tempranillo Rosé is a thing. As a sommelier in training, this was music to my ears — I’ve never tried this before. I’ve never even seen a Tempranillo as a rosé. Of course, I got a bottle to take back to Seattle. Thank you, Devin at Adamant Cellars
  4. Forget limos and hummers, hire a chauffeured Tesla to take you around the vineyards in style. There’s nothing more rewarding than hearing about the destination’s quirks, hidden gems, and history from a proud local entrepreneur. And it’s eco-friendly. Thank you, Jim at Tesla Winery Tours!
  5. Walla Walla means “many waters” in the Native American language Sahaptin.
  6. Wine-making is as much of an art as it is a science. Thanks for showing me the labelling and bottling process and the progression of sparkling wine, Isenhower Cellars!
  7. The farm-to-table mantra is alive as ever in Walla Walla — there are some excellent fine dining options with ingredients sourced from local farmers, such as the highly-acclaimed Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen.
  8. If you don’t catch the gorgeous Spanish-inspired Castillo de Feliciana in the golden hour, you’re missing out.? Oh, and if there was one winery that would bring this emoji –>?? to life, it would be this one. 
  9. One of the best vantage points for a sunset photo is the Amavi Winery atop a hill. ? 
  10. Latte art is not as successful with nonfat milk and decaf coffee. Thanks for the lesson, Walla Walla Roastery!☕️
  11. Walla Walla is located along the same latitude line (46°) as the Bordeaux and Burgundy regions of France, meaning there’s many similarities between the final wine products. It has long summer days and short, cool nights to create the perfect balance between sugar and acidity.
  12. The hospitality in Walla Walla is spectacular, and it’s best seen and experienced at the Marcus Whitman Hotel, one of the few luxury hotels in the area.
  13. In addition to vineyards, Walla Walla is known for its sweet onions, which were brought over by a French soldier in the early 1900s from the island of Corsica. It’s also the designated vegetable of Washington State.
  14. The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon from Pepper Bridge Winery is a must-try.
  15. You can learn how to make your own wine at the Center for Enology and Viticulture — it’s part of Walla Walla Community College. You could spend all day here listening to the students explain the process of wine-making and tasting all the different varietals from their homegrown brand, College Cellars.
  16. As part of Alaska Airlines’ Taste and Tote program, you can check your first case of wine free from Yakima, Tri-Cities/Pasco, and Walla Walla.

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