Here are some of my favorite memories at my first Spring Release in Walla Walla:
Founded in 1977, Leonetti is the first commercial winery in Walla Walla. With a humble beginning in farming back in 1906, Leonetti's shift to winemaking has earned it numerous international accolades. A premium winery, Leonetti is also known for its exclusivity, with a long wait to get on the member list.
The Spring Release weekend is the one time every year that Leonetti opens its doors to its members. This past release, the winery poured its 2017 Merlot followed by 2016 Cab Sauvignon, paired with delicious blue cheese beef sliders and asparagus fries.
Armed with libation, wandering about the winery grounds and then the underground cellar was probably my favorite part of the weekend. I have visited numerous wine caves in Champagne, Beaune, and even the Penedès. But this was probably my first time visiting an underground wine cellar in the United States. Even though the facility is modern in comparison, I felt like I was transported back to a European wine country.
Spring Valley Vineyard
|My oenophilic friends with Uriah|
Similar to Leonetti, Spring Valley Vineyard started as a farm, but it went further back to the mid 1800's. In 1993, they planted their first grapes, and then in 1997, they bottled their first vintage. The winery is incredibly proud of its heritage, and several of their wines are named after co-founder Shari Derby's grandparents and parents. In fact, Nina Lee was Shari's mother.
During the Spring Release weekend, the winery opened up the Ranch for a big party with a spectacular wine line-up and a generous culinary spread of crab cakes, quiches, cured meats, cheeses, and all kinds of fruits and vegetables. Winemaker Serge Laville also busted open a (very) large format of the 2009 Uriah, an amazing red bank Bordeaux blend.
I have always wanted to visit the Ranch, that is open for tours on Saturdays during peak season. The drive there is breathtaking. Do be prepared to go on gravel road for a bit. But you will be rewarded manifolds during the journey and at the destination!
|Breathtaking drive to Spring Valley Vineyard Ranch|
Swinging the pendulum back to the more exclusive end is Reynvaan Family Vineyards, the biggest surprise for the weekend!
|2012 ITR Syrah|
It was not till our fourth (and what we thought was our last) winery for the day that we ran into a group of fellow oenophiles who had just came from the Reynvaan tasting. As it was getting close to the end of the day, we rushed to the winery just as it was about to lock up.
There might have been some obnoxious begging and groveling, and winemaker Matt Reynvaan graciously let us in. He started us with his other label, MTR, a project with his wife, Lauren. MTR focuses on wine with a longer aging time in barrels and bottles prior to release. Both 2013 and 2014 vintage of Memory Found were plenty tasty and even sexy. He then poured us the latest 2016 vintage of In the Rocks Syrah, which was mind-blowing good.
|Fangirls with Matt Reynvaan|
My Verdict: I can't believe I waited that long to go for a Spring Release weekend. Whether it is an exclusive access to a winery of which you are a member, or a release party that is open to all, or even chancing upon a tasting that is not published, Spring Release is such a grand time to be in the wine country. There are new releases to discover and winemakers to meet. It is practically the Comi Con for wine geeks. I think I may have to sign up again!