Spring Release weekend here in Walla Walla is an insanely busy few days. The preparations on the part of wineries, restaurants and catering businesses in the week preceding is nothing short of exhausting. Shifting barrels in the cellar to make room for wine club members and potential wine club members, moving tables and other furnishings in the tasting room to be sure nobody misses a tasting unless they choose to. Make-shift outdoor areas to accommodate more bodies; our weather was perfectly lovely for this. Plate after plate of finger foods, platters of delectable meats and exquisite cheeses beside carefully chosen crackers, mouth-watering dessert items on tiered carriers and flower arrangements of all shapes, sizes and colors. Member brunches and member dinners began and ended Saturday around town for a festive atmosphere.
Visitors have to make hotel and restaurant reservations at least six months in advance, sometimes a year. Many have been to Walla Walla repeatedly through the years, remembering when there were very few restaurants and hotels but really good wine brought them back for each activity anyway. Some didn’t know their inaugural visit would put them smack into a Disneyland-type-line at the wineries they were interested in trying; most say they plan to come back and know to make plans earlier. I worked Friday and Saturday, the two really big days. Working in a tasting room for a winery that has been around for twenty-five years, out of the thirty that the AVA has been around, we were pleasantly busy as we were well staffed and well prepared.
Sunday we decided to find a few places we have never been and try them, always a fun endeavor. We discovered Mannina Cellars in this way. Small scale family vineyard and winery named for the winemakers maternal grandmother. A rose’, a couple red blends and several red varietals on offer only in the tasting room. This is typical of most Walla Walla wineries, minimal to no distribution but available via tasting room or website ordering. Don, owner and wine maker, was in the tasting room for a short time while we were there. He is a down to earth, and a talented winemaker that exchanged a salary, retirement and benefits at a large corporation for a vineyard that had to be babied through a couple of cold years until he could finally harvest fruit to use in his winery. Cali Vineyard, as of 2012, is now providing estate fruit – truly a gratifying experience I am sure.
The 2012 Mourvedre’ Rose’ is dry with red fruit on the nose and palate. With its charming label drawn by a daughter and named for both girls, ‘Maddily’, will be a delightful summer sipper.
Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah varietals and the two blended reds that balance the first three (couple of different vineyards) into two different, but equally lovely wines.
We are glad for we made it into this winery today. Great showcase of Washington, specifically Walla Walla, wines.