Last Saturday I was lucky enough to be invited to a very different sort of wine event. The fine folks at Walla Faces sponsored a lecture/tour/tasting focusing on the four terroirs to be found in the Walla Walla AVA. It began with a very informative and entertaining slideshow/lecture by Dr. Kevin Pogue, head of the geology dept at Whitman College, explaining the Missoula Floods and how it essentially created the Walla Walla Valley and the various terroirs.
Then we got on a bus and headed out to four different vineyards (Walla Faces, Leonetti, Cayuse, and Seven Hills), each representative of one of the four terroirs. We also made a number of stops along the highway to view cut banks that showed the various strata and deposits that determine the distinctive characteristics of each terroir. At each stop Kevin gave us a little more detailed info about that particular terroir. He was extremely good at explaining everything in terms a layman could understand, and had a number of entertaining visual demos to illuminate his points. I kind of felt like I was taking part in a Discovery Channel video. Who knew dirt could be so interesting!
Then it was back to the Walla Faces tasting room where we were invited to do side by side tastings of Waters Winery syrah barrel samples from two different terroirs (Leonetti loess, and Forgotten Hills silt loam/sandy loam/cobble). Since these were barrel samples, there hadn’t yet been any adjustments made by the winemaker. And indeed, there were marked differences in the tastes from the distinct terroirs. We also tasted other finished wines from the Walla Walla AVA provided by Waters, Dusted Valley and Walla Faces.
I had an absolutely fantastic time at this event. Thanks again to our gracious hosts at Walla Faces. I highly recommend this trip to anyone even remotely interested in terroir. It isn’t offered very often, so call the Walla Faces tasting room for the next date.