Wednesday, October 17, 2007
We Heart Walla Walla
Walla Walla, so nice they named it twice. The wineries on the way into Walla Walla blew us away. But, sadly, so did the prices. Our first stop was Woodward Canyon. Every wine we tasted there was top notch. But it was only 10 a.m. and we just weren't ready to spend. If you find yourself on the road into town and looking to splurge, you won't find better than their merlots. Then we crossed the street to L'Ecole No. 41. This winery was by far the most architecturally impressive of our trip. It's in an old school house (pictured), hence the name. They make a nice range of wines - everything from cheaper WA wines to the more expensive single Walla Walla vineyard vintages. Their cabs are fantastic! Experiencing a bit of palate fatigue, but determined to soldier on, we stopped in at Reininger, notable for its uniformly quality wines, very friendly wine pourer, and snail labels. Having tasted at three of the very best Walla Walla area wineries before lunch, it was time for a well-deserved break. And nothing cleanses the palette better than a burger and shake. We headed over to the iconic Ice-Burg Burgers (pictured), ordered a couple of its namesake, fries, onion rings, and a peach shake to split, and prepared ourselves for more tasting. We discovered, to our dismay, that many Walla Walla wineries aren't even open on Thursdays and that a shocking number of the ones that are charge for tastings (especially the ones out by the airport). Having gotten pickier by necessity as the day wore on, we decided to skip those wineries. We checked out Waterbrook's tasting room downtown, but it didn't impress us. Isenhower was nice and their wildflower labels are lovely. But Forgeron was a revelation. Their winemaker is French and it shows. Everything we tried was fantastic. And it was our last winery of the day, so that's saying a lot.
We went low end on our accommodations, but one could do worse than the Budget Inn. It's cheap, centrally-located, and clean, and left us with a little extra cash to blow on dinner. At every winery, we asked where we should go for dinner and the result was unanimous - we had to check out Saffron. It was probably the best meal we've had since moving to WA. They claim to specialize in Mediteranean food, but what's really impressive is their way with difficult animals. Stuff most people wouldn't even consider eating, they make perfectly. In our meal alone a rabbit, squab, and octopus were involved. In fact, Paul loved it so much that he insisted on writing a separate post about it himself. Look for that to appear sometime soon.