8 Buyers, 1 Store, 8000 Wines

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

On 3:00 PM by The Bloggers @ 67 Wine in , , , , , ,    2 comments
Years ago, when I first learned about Washington State's Walla Walla Valley, it was because of their sweet onions - which my dad loves to put on top of his bagel and lox. Back then, I knew little about wine and cared even less, except for the few sips my parents allowed me from their glasses at dinner. 

As I became more well-versed about wine, though, I learned about the Walla Walla Valley AVA, or American Viticultural Area. It was established in 1984, and was the second oldest AVA in Washington after Yakima Valley. The region itself has been producing grapes since the 1850s, when Italian immigrants planted some of the earliest vines. While Cabernet Sauvignon is the leading variety, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Syrah are also widely planted. The more I learned, I thought, who cares about onions when you can have wine — particularly Washington State Syrah?

This iconic Rhône grape has been gaining popularity and acreage in Washington State over the years, and I love its big, spicy flavors. The first Washington Syrah I remember tasting was from the boutique Waters Winery in Walla Walla. Their Forgotten Hills Syrah, which is reminiscent of Northern Rhône wines, is ripe and rich with a long finish. After drinking this wine for a few years, I can safely say it is among my top five wines, ever. But what really cemented my love and interest — for me as well as for my wine-loving dad – was the elusive Cayuse Cailloux Vineyard Syrah.

Cayuse Vineyards was founded in 1997 by French winemaker Christophe Barone. On a personal trip to Walla Walla a few years earlier, he came across some land filled with softball-sized stones. To others, the place seemed like a waste of time. To Barone, the landscape was a promising reminder of the galettes of the Southern Rhone, particularly Châteuneuf-du-Pape. Two years later, he produced what became my favorite wine of his: the Cailloux Vineyard Syrah.  From just a few sips, I remember it as a rich, highly concentrated wine with both minerality and complexity.

We were lucky enough to come away with two bottles, but now it’s harder and harder to track down more, and both my Dad and I are waiting to become part of Cayuse’s preferred mailing list. Imagine that! Just last week, we received emails from Cayuse wishing us a happy new year and urging us to not give up hope for a spot on their mailing list. (My dad jokingly said he would give his spot to me in his will.)

I hold out hope that one day I’ll be able to drink this amazing wine again and be reminded of that first sip, years ago, when I fell in love with Washington wine. And maybe if I’m very lucky, I’ll be able to put a few bottles on the shelves for all of you. 

Samantha Weinberg


  1. Great article about Walla Walla Wines! Keep up the great work spreading the word.

  2. I love Washington red wine...it is one of the two best areas in the world when it comes to value-for-money in reds (the other is Argentina)...complexity and harmony...wonderful producers include Columbia Crest (particularly their H3 labelings), Powers, Cadence, Buty, 14 Hands, Milbrandt and Genesis...


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