There’s something to be said for alliteration, and a goofy group of giggling girls just couldn’t resist the appeal of a Walla Walla Winery Weekend. First of all, I love wine. I love everything that has to do with wine: grapes, wineries, bottles of wine with pretty labels, big oak barrels—you get the idea. Secondly, I love my girlfriends, you know, spending time with them, telling fun stories. Thirdly, I love long, extended weekends, traveling with my girlfriends, with the sole intention of drinking wine, where I am not expected to plan any part of it. Just give you a check at the end of the weekend? Excellent!
The drive from Seattle, WA to Walla Walla, WA is not for the casual Sunday driver. I discovered it is roughly a 5.5 hour trip, which left plenty of time to chat, and sing, and for me to bemoan the fact that there are people who say “Walla!” when they really mean “Voila!” Seriously. I’ve heard it more times than I care to count. I realize it’s just because “Voila!” is so widely used (and heard in movies and on television), but not everyone took seventh and eighth grade French, and understands that “Voila” basically means “There it is!” or “There you have it!” in French. I mean, the “Walla” people are using it correctly in context; they’re just using the wrong word. Needless to say, “Walla!” became the exclamation of the weekend. We stopped after 3.5 hours of driving, and exclaiming “Walla!” for our first wine tasting, with lunch, at the lovely Alexandria Nicole cellars. I have almost forgiven them for having run out of dessert wine. Dessert is the most important meal of the day.
We stayed in an adorable Craftsman-style three-bedroom house, about eight blocks from the downtown area. Close proximity was good, but the house being equipped with bikes was better! I haven’t yelled, “Hey, let’s ride bikes!” since I was twelve. I also haven’t ridden a bike, with a horn, since I was twelve. So, we rode, and honked, and yelled out “Walla!” with a wave of our arms, whenever we’d see something of interest. Ice cream parlors are always of interest, particularly when they carry a black licorice flavor that turns your tongue and teeth a blackish gray, as my friend Carol discovered when we stopped at Bright’s Candies & Ice Cream.
The next day was devoted to serious wine-tasting. We weren’t messing around. Before departing on the adventure, we made a pit stop at Salumiere Cesario to stock up on artisan cheeses, meats, and baguettes for the day. They also have an olive-tasting bar. There were six of us, and we now had snacks, a driver, a van, and a plan. The plan was mainly to see how many wineries we could make it to in a four-hour time span. We went to Cougar Crest, Dunham Cellars, Buty, Abeja, and K Vintners.
Cougar Crest was a “must” given that we are all in our thirties and loved the photo op provided by the bronze sculpture of a cougar when you first enter the tasting room. Rrrrawwwnnrr, or something. Mike Dunham himself took us for a tour of the barrel rooms at Dunham Cellars, with one of the darling Dunham dogs in tow. We enjoyed a very cozy tasting at Buty, meaning the room was tiny and there were a lot of people in there with us.
As the day wore on, our driver, John, grew more and more entertained, and although he didn’t say much, we think he was having a pretty good time. Or he just wanted us to shut up. Either way, we were wine-tasting, so who cares! We were stunned by the beauty of Abeja’s grounds, and all immediately proclaimed, in slightly slurred tones, that we were going to be married there! Or that we just wanted someone to be married there, as long as we were invited to the ceremony!
I believe it was there, at Abeja (our fourth winery, mind you), that we all started discussing what type of dog we think we’d be. Again, fourth winery. The general consensus was that our group included a Jack Russell terrier (small and tenacious), an Australian Shepherd (the one who planned the trip), an Irish Setter (red hair and lanky), an Afghan Hound (the hair), a Chocolate Lab (obedient and faithful), and Labradoodle (dark, curly hair). We wanted to change the Jack Russell to a pit bull, but she pointed out that she “really wasn’t that loyal.”
K Vintners bore the brunt of our festive wine-induced reveling ... did summmbody say Riesling? But, thankfully, they have a reputation for being fairly edgy and sassy. We were all a little past edgy and sassy after our third taste at K, where everything tasted great! It’s like juice! Driver John herded us back into the van and back to the Walla Walla house, where we proceeded to plow through the remains of our cheese, meats, and bread lunches, as well as all of the car snacks from the drive out, and finally, the contents of the once-lovely gift basket that had been left by the owners of the house. Ahhhh, wine-tasting. So refined.
The following day we bid a fond farewell to the cute little Craftsman, and the bikes, and the charming town of Walla Walla, and drove back across the rolling hills of Eastern Washington to Seattle. Summing up our weekend with a collective dramatic wave of our arms, we exclaimed, “Walla!”