Monday, September 1, 2014

walla walla :: part 1

A few months ago me and Pat met his parents in Walla Walla, Washington to explore the wine region. This is something we had been wanting to do for several years now, and since Bend is much closer to Southeastern Washington than Corvallis was, we figured we might as well seize the opportunity. It was a really fun weekend in a beautiful area, and of course, the wine was amazing.

thursday (6/26) :: night 1
We left Bend Thursday evening after work and began the 5 hour drive to the to Southeastern Washington town of Walla Walla, which is right over the border of Oregon. The drive was a bit tedious, but it was beautiful. We got to go through nearly endless farm lands, small towns that looked like they were frozen in time, and drive along the Columbia River Gorge with views of wind turbines in the distance (I love wind turbines because they remind me of California), before passing through Pendelton, and finally entering Washington around 9:00pm. Pat's dad had rented a home/small startup winery just outside of town where we stayed for the weekend. The location ended up being very private and a great central location to almost all of the wineries we wanted to explore. Once we arrived we sat on the deck while enjoying a glass of wine, and then went to bed early in preparation for a long day.

[[ driving through the oregon countryside. rainbow! small towns. nearly endless stretches of road. the gorge. the sunset. almost there. ]]

friday (6/27) :: day 1
After breakfast we gathered our things and headed out for a little drive through the beautiful countryside before going to the airport area, which interestingly enough contains several tasting rooms in a small radius. We got off to a bit of a rough start at CAVU Cellars, which was simply not good, but made up for it on our next stop at Russell Creek Winery, which was delicious. We ended up purchasing some bottles there. Next we went up the street to Dunham Cellars Winery, which ended up being one of my favorites, both in terms of their wine, and the overall experience. Though it was simply a tasting room, the outside area was lovely and they had a huge barn type of space in the back with very eclectic decorations that was perfect to hang out in while tasting. There were even some delicious sample pairings out like bread and various olive oils and balsamic vinaigrettes, as well as chocolate, so I mean, I really had everything I needed there. Because Pat's dad is a wine member we got to go in the back and pick out some reserves as well, and ended up taking home a fancy bottle that we are saving for our anniversary next year.

[[ the grounds at our vacation rental. wild bunnies everywhere! a drive through the country. endless fields of wheat. dunham cellars. ]]

After Dunham we went to K Vintners, which was hands down my favorite of the trip. K was much different than any winery I have ever experienced. Not only was the wine delicious, but the whole aesthetic was very "rock n' roll". I don't know how else to describe it. I mean... there was a vintage motorcycle in the back and drippy gothic candles on old wine bottles lit the room. (Not to mention that the owner looks a bit like the lead singer from Coheed and Cambria). I also loved the design of their labels, often centered around grungy lettering and insane illustrations incorporating owner Charles Smith. The location was excellent also, tucked back in the country on the owners family's old farmhouse estate, and tastings were offered in a white washed barn.

[[ the grounds. barn tasting room. an old portrait of the owner's parents. exploring the back room. tasting flight. fancy magnums in the back. drippy gothic candles. the best wine label ever (we went home with one of these)! overall sweet design aesthetic. motorcycle. wall of fame. reenactment picture (like the one i took in nola). crazy fruit. guard dogs. ]]

Once we had tasted everything we could get our hands on at K, and explored the back room for special bottles, the four of us headed to Walla Walla's quiet little downtown for some lunch. We went to the French themed Brasserie Four where we sat outside shared a flatbread, mussels, and prosecco. We had just finished eating the delicious food when it started pouring down rain. Pat and his dad sought refuge in a few of the downtown tasting rooms, while me and his step mom went for the antique stores. Once the storm calmed down we went back to the house to rest up and change for dinner.

[[ lunch at brasserie four. the storm rolling in. antiquing in downtown walla walla. ]]

Since Pat's dad and step mom had been to Walla Walla several times, we left all of the planning up to them. For our first night they made reservations at Whitehouse Crawford, which was situated in an old mill and seemed very colonial to me. We had a drink before dinner and then not surprisingly, more wine with our meals. I ordered the halibut and it was delicious. After dinner we walked down the street to the historic Marcus Whitman Hotel which pats step mom wanted to show us. We spent a bit of time exploring the grand rooms and then had a night cap before heading back to the house for bed.

[[ dinner at whitehouse crawford. my halibut. the interior. strange artifacts in the waiting area (the dollar reads something about japanese currency and lists one peso as the tender). exploring the marcus whitman. ]]