Wine tasting in Walla Walla, WA
Abeja. Winemaker John Abbott produces plush Cabs. Tasting and tours by appointment only, but worth it. 2014 Mill Creek Rd., Walla Walla; www.abeja.net or 509/526-7400.
Amavi Cellars. The Swiss winemaker takes a European approach to Walla Walla grapes. Don't miss the Semillon―creamy but crisp, with pears, minerals, and lingering citrus. 11–5 Tue–Sun. 635 N. 13th Ave., Walla Walla; www.amavicellars.com or 509/525-3541.
Bodega Turner. Michael and Holly Turner concentrate on Malbec (a beautiful, brooding 2001 "Dos Amigos"―dark cherries, herbs, cedar, and smoke) and white and red Bordeaux blends (the 2001 "Deux Femmes" Sauvignon Blanc–Semillon is lean and nuanced, with honeyed pears and minerals). 12–5 Fri–Mon and by appointment. 205 W. Main St., Walla Walla; www.bodegaturner.com or 509/525-5552.
Spring Valley Vineyard. Longtime farmers Dean Derby and Shari Corkrum Derby show what you can do when you pull out Walla Walla wheat and put in grapes. While the "Uriah" Merlot blend is winning awards, don't miss the "Nina Lee" Syrah, named for Shari's mother, a former vaudeville star. It's a perfect match for the duck recipe on page 153. 11–4 Fri–Sat and by appointment; $5 tasting fee. 7 S. Fourth Ave., Walla Walla; www.springvalleyvineyard.com or 509/337-6915.
Three Rivers Winery. Holly Turner brings French winemaking experience and a Bordeaux-like balance to Cabernets and Merlots, as well as dynamite Syrahs. Large, visitor-oriented tasting room. Music on the Lawn concert series (from $35) begins in June. 10–6 daily. 5641 W. U.S. 12, Walla Walla; www.threeriverswinery.com or 509/526-9463.
Waterbrook Winery. Stylish tasting room with local art and consistently good-value wines. Try the 2003 "Mélange," a big, brooding blend of Cab, Merlot, Syrah, Sangiovese, and Cab Franc, with black currants and overtones of smoke. 10:30–4:30 daily. 31 E. Main, Walla Walla; www.waterbrook.com or 509/522-1262.
Woodward Canyon Winery. The tasting room is in an 1870s farmhouse once used by the schoolmistress for the old school next door (which L'Ecole No. 41 winery now occupies). Rich, interesting―and pricey―Cabs and Merlots, but real value at lower tiers too: a great "red table wine" blend for $17. 10–5 daily. 11920 W. U.S. 12, Lowden; www.woodwardcanyon.com or 509/525-4129.