by Mike Simmons
It was a beautiful fall day as a plethora of 16 Porsche 911s, Boxters, a Cayenne and a Panamera all joined the wine tour to Walla Walla on Friday, September 23rd, 2011. We had a quick fun trip to our first stop at Columbia Crest winery in Paterson, Washington where we enjoyed our picnic lunch and a tour of the large facility that produces thousands of bottles of wine for the world. The 79,000 gallon wine vat in the 23 acre underground wine cave was especially impressive to see. Dave Cooley, the zone 6 PCA rep, joined us in Paterson for the rest of the tour. We tasted the several reserve offerings that Columbia Crest had set out for us before continuing on to our next two wineries in Lowden, Washington at Woodward Canyon and L'Ecole. These side by side wineries are the 2nd and 3rd wineries that have been opened in the Walla Walla wine region and are world renowned in their own right. There are over 100 wineries in the Walla Walla area and it is a difficult decision to make as to which ones will be enjoyed on a three day weekend. Friday night found us at the Mill Creek Brew Pub enjoying craft beers and a casual dinner on the patio on a very pleasant summer-like evening. We all walked back to the Marcus Whitman Hotel along the newly revitilized downtown streets of Walla Walla and hoped for a restful nights sleep before the busy Saturday ahead. A hearty breakfast eaten and then a movie on one of the founding fathers of Walla Walla was viewed before we walked over the two blocks to the Kirkman House Museum where we given a very informational history of William Kirkman and the early days of Walla Walla. The first driving stop on our Saturday wine tour was at the Minnick vineyard where Jay DeWitt gave us a tutorial on wine grape production and how to taste the grapes to know when to harvest. The bridge was out on the original tour route we had planned so a detour over to an alternate route was taken.
We continued on to Dayton, Washington and soon arrived at the Dumas Station winery and we were greeted by Ali and Doug Harvey at the old apple warehouse turned winery. As we entered the winery we were greeted by a salsa band playing lively music that set the tone for the party that was ahead. Wine tasting was accompanied with cheese and salami as the music played on. Lunch was a buffet of fresh salads and chicken and beef brochette from the local Winehard Cafe. Many of the revelers joined the wine club while others purchased wine as the meal wound down and the fresh blueberry and chocolate desserts were served. Our next stop was the Dunham Cellars winery where a special treat was extended to the High Desert PCA members in the form of a barrel tasting in the barrel room. We compared the 2007 syrah to the 2009 syrah and were shown the bottling room of the facility. Viki, our host from Dunham, posed for pictures on several of the Porsches. The Marcus Whitman Hotel was the location of our 5 course wine pairing meal for the evening and it was a spectacular meal that lasted 4 hours from champagne start to dessert wine finish. The chef explained each course and the wine pairing that we all enjoyed. No one was hungry when we finally headed off to sleep. Sunday morning breakfast was enjoyed by all as we gathered to depart for the trip back to Bend. Eight cars headed back together while several had other destinations programmed on their navigation systems. It was a busy but fun weekend and there were rumors of next years tour already in the works.