The Walla Walla Valley is home to more than 100 wineries and 3000 acres of vineyards. It is known for its big bold reds, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. Today we would like to feature a few Classic Walla Walla Wineries and the families behind them! Please find their stories below in no particular order.
Chuck and Tracy Reininger “launched their dream of owning a premier winery in a promising AVA. They ran Reininger Winery together for five years, successfully growing the business as team of two before joining forces with Tracy’s brothers and parents, fourth and fifth generation wheat farmers in Washington and Oregon.”
Education is one of Reininger’s core values and to this end, they are continually discovering what is possible. “We’re focused on the journey and we hope to bring our customers along with us as we explore and learn.”
Reininger is the longest running producer of Carmenère in the state with their first vintage being produced in 2002.
2. Spring Valley
Six generations of family farmers.
“The land that the Corkrum, Derby, and Elvin families farm today is rich with history dating back to the mid 1800’s, when current vineyard owner Shari Corkrum Derby’s grandfather Uriah Corkrum began farming in the area.
Uriah experienced success farming in the 1880’s but unfortunately lost everything in the first great depression of 1893. He persevered though and acquired the land now known as Spring Valley in 1910.
In 1993, Shari and Dean Derby planted the first grapes at Spring Valley. The first vintage of Estate grown and bottled Spring Valley Vineyard wines were produced with the 1999 vintage. The Derbys’ son Devin Corkrum Derby served as winemaker until his untimely death in 2004. Devin’s assistant and friend Serge Laville took over as winemaker and continues the legacy of Spring Valley Vineyard.”
3. L’Ecole N° 41
L’Ecole is a third-generation family-owned winery located in an historic Frenchtown School depicted on their label.
“Marty Clubb is Managing Winemaker and Co-Owner of L’Ecole N° 41 with his wife, Megan, and children, Riley and Rebecca. This family-owned artisan winery was founded by Megan’s parents, Jean and Baker Ferguson, in 1983.”
“As a traditional brick and mortar winery, we are engaged in growing and making 100% of our own wines. Our focus is on terroir-driven, distinctive and expressive wines that reflect the unmistakable typicity of Washington State and the Walla Walla Valley.”
4. Dunham Cellars
Dunham Cellars was founded by Eric Dunham who knew he wanted to make wine at a young age.
“…the aspiring young winemaker found warehouse space in an old WWII airplane hangar in Walla Walla, and was able to convince his parents to help him launch Dunham Cellars. A couple of years later, David and Cheryll Blair were introduced to the Dunhams. They subsequently joined the Dunhams in pursuit of their collective dream of making and pairing great wine with wonderful hospitality.”
5. Walla Walla Vintners
Walla Walla Vintners has been family-owned since 1995.
“With a dream to bring their young family to Walla Walla, Scott and Nici Haladay were first introduced to Walla Walla Vintners in 2017. Already familiar with the historic winery, they were excited to get the chance to be the new stewards of the iconic red barn and Cut Bank Estate vineyard. “
Winemaker Derrek Vipond joined Walla Walla Vintners in January 2019.
6. Woodward Canyon Winery
The Small family has farmed the Woodward Canyon land for four generations.
“Woodward Canyon Winery was established in 1981 by Rick Small and his wife, Darcey Fugman-Small. The winery was named for the canyon where Rick’s family farmed for multiple generations and where the Woodward Canyon Estate Vineyard is now located. Woodward Canyon was the second winery in the Walla Walla Valley, and the Smalls were instrumental in the process of obtaining federal approval of the Walla Walla Valley Appellation in 1984. The winery has consistently produced premium, age-worthy cabernet sauvignons, Bordeaux-style blends and merlots as well as chardonnays. From the outset, it was determined that quality would take precedence over quantity.”
7. Seven Hills Winery
Founder Casey McClellan is a fourth generation farmer in Eastern Washington.
“Casey and his wife, Vicky, began to cultivate an interest in wine and developed a long term vision to make wine from the family farm in Walla Walla Valley. They drew further inspiration during a European cycling trip through wine country, where they experienced wine as an integral foundation to these communities and an important, vital part of small town agricultural life.”
8. Mark Ryan Winery
“From his early days as a self-taught winemaker and wine sales professional to today, Mark’s curiosity has been the driver. For Mark, wine is extremely personal.
Mark Ryan McNeilly founded Mark Ryan Winery in 1999 with the simple and lofty goal of making the best wine in Washington State. Largely self-taught, Mark honed the craft of winemaking through rigorous study and the welcomed advice of some of the area’s most experienced producers.
“I’m a curious person. I wanted to know how wine was made.”
The goal has always been to make delicious wines representative of our style and varietal character, striving for the highest quality every vintage.
Mark is a vigilant crusader for his wines and for winemaking in Washington State.”
9. Pepper Bridge Winery
“Pepper Bridge Winery represents the pioneering spirit of the Walla Walla Valley. Owned and operated by three families – the McKibbens, the Goffs and the Pellets, the winery is a leader in quality winemaking, innovative technology and vineyard development. For over twenty years their hard work and dedication to the Walla Walla Valley has helped define it as one of the great wine regions of the world.”
10. Saviah Cellars
Saviah Cellars is owned by winemaker Richard Funk. Richard and his wife, Anita, moved to Walla Walla in 1991 and have incorporated a lot of family history into their winery.
“Saviah is a family name from Anita’s great-grandmother, a schoolteacher, artist and author, who settled in western Montana in the early 1900s. The family’s heritage is also reflected in their Star Meadows White Wine, named after the location of the original family homestead; the Une Vallée Red Wine inspired by the current family homestead called “One Valley”; and the Big Sky Cuvée in honor of their Montana roots. THE JACK family of wines, named after Saviah’s husband and Anita’s great-grandfather, has quickly become an iconic brand that over-delivers quality at a friendly price.”