Specs: “Originally brought to America by Paul Masson, Martin Ray planted French Chardonnay in the Santa Cruz Mountains in the 1940’s and revolutionized American winemaking. We make Martin’s Gold from the first plantings of this “Mt. Eden clone” in Washington State. This wine offers a bolder and more New World profile than other chardonnay from The Walls, yet still made in a restrained and balanced Old World style that Ali’s wines are known for.”
Robe: Transparent lemon robe.
Nose: Vanilla, waxy white florals, light toast notes.
Palate: Oak, citrus, pear, almond bouche; light body, balanced acids and tannins, slight reverb on the finish. Impeccable fruit, beautiful structure.
Suggested Pairings: A wine for lightly oaked Chardonnay aficionados. Especially compliments creamy cheeses or classically sauced main courses.
Wine: The Walls McAndrew Chardonnay | Columbia Gorge
Suggested Retail: $36
Specs: “Doc” McAndrew was a highly educated and respected surgeon in Seattle. He was also “a dreamer and a doer” who brought to life the first planting of Chardonnay in the Columbia Gorge region of southwest Washington in 1972. Doc’s pioneering foresight gave birth to vineyards that are the perfect pairing of site and varietal — few will deny his was among the best fruit in the country. This Chardonnay comes from cuttings from Doc’s original plants and is made in a crisp, fresh style using the nest concrete tanks we imported from Burgundy. We offer it both in his memory and with his “if you can dream it, do it” spirit.
Robe: Pale straw robe.
Nose: Citron, white rocks, white stone fruits notes.
Suggested Pairings: A lyrical accompaniment to a myriad of seafood dishes, especially crab, sole, and shellfish.
Wine: The Walls Stanley Groovy Red Blend | Red Mountain
Alcohol: 13.6 %
Suggested Retail: $38
Specs: “You may not have heard of Stanley Groovy, and that’s OK. We’ll tell you he’s a strange — but delightful — guy, much more complex than he lets on, despite his “regular guy” exterior. Inside, he’s groovy — just like the wine in this bottle. Trying to describe this wine is like trying to describe the inside of the fine artist’s mind; you may say you get it but really, no one gets it. And this is why what’s in this bottle will remain in generalities – simple on the outside, complex and groovy on the inside. We will say it is an intriguing blend of red Iberian varietals from Red Mountain, one of Washington’s most prominent AVAs, and is just as suitable for cellaring as it is for immediate enjoyment. Once you taste it, you’ll never confuse it with any other wine.”
Robe: Opaque ruby robe.
Nose: Blackberry, green pepper, oregano, tobacco notes.
Palate:A well-constructed, integrated, age-worthy, medium+ body wine with plush tannins and a thoughtful, lengthy finish.
Suggested Pairings: A supple anchor to any meal featuring roasted beef, game, or duck.
Attorney Mike Martin wasn’t looking for a bend in the road of life when he and a pal stopped off in Walla Walla a few years ago to play some golf and drink some wine en route to business in Boise.
But bend it does. At Walla Walla’s Wine Country golf course, Mike Martin hits his first-ever hole-in-one. Bam! Much back-slapping, wine drinking, bad karaoke, and general hilarity ensue. Next morning, Mike and his friend sober up, suit up, and drive on to business in Boise – but Mike never shakes the thrill of that hole-in-one, nor the camaraderie with those folks in Walla Walla.
Back and back Mike bends towards the warmth of Walla Walla for more golf, more wine, and – rumor has it – more bad karaoke, always the glow from the community beckoning, growing, gathering heat – until its white-hot embers burn a hole in his expensive attorney attire.
As with every touchstone moment in life, trajectories alter. Paths cross.
About that time Mike meets local-girl wine maker Ali Mayfield, formerly of Longshadows. More wine drinking ensues in the discussion of its making.
A partnership forms, a nascent winery forged: The Walls, the name a nod to the penitentiary north of town.
Trajectories alter further.
Mike buys a vineyard in the the Rocks District, then Whitman Cellars, then Charles Smith’s former tasting room/eatery on Main Street in downtown Walla Walla.
More paths cross.
Mike lures Waitsburg mixologist Jim German to shake things up at the bar.
Seattle pasta star Mike Easton steps up to consult on eats.
In short order, the partnership, the vineyard, the winery, and the tasting room/eatery emerge as separate, but equally important, entities of a whole.
A vineyard that does more than grow grapes. A winery that does more than make wine. A tasting room/eatery that offers visitors and locals not just food and drink, but an experience – a gathering place similar to the one Mike and his friend tumbled into years early fresh off that freak hole-in-one.
The Walls offers community – one bottle, one meal, one memory at a time.
Special memories. Kinda like a hole-in-one.
Recently, wine maker Ali Mayfield took time, despite the rush of Spring Release, to chat with me about her decision to pursue life as an artisan wine maker, some of her star-powered mentors, and what her partnership in The Walls means to her.
r/T: Talk about your experience as a wine maker. You’ve worked at some of the region’s best wineries, including Long Shadows. Along the way, you’ve enjoyed mentorship by some industry greats, including Kendall Mix, formerly of Corliss Estate, and Claude Gros of Bookwalter. How has Kendall influenced your winemaking? How has Claude’s ’old world’ approach informed your own style? Which voice is loudest in your head in the vineyard? During crush? In the cellar?
Ali Mayfield: Experience is a big part of winemaking and I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to work along some of the industry’s greats. Every vintage brings us something new and having a network of mentors that have seen and experienced more than I have gives me the ability to make the best decisions for the vintage.
Kendall is the foundation of my winemaking – I was a blank slate other then a few homemade wines when we started working together. His gentle approach to extraction is still very present in my wines.
Claude has taught me to push the boundaries of winemaking, to respect the fruit and allow the wine to become what it wants to be.
The loudest voice in my head in the vineyard is Phil Coturri and what a great voice! Phil is helping in the development of our Rocks vineyard. Phil is teaching me how to grow a wine in the vineyard.
During crush and in the cellar it’s Claude voice – I know he’s coming at some point to taste the wine and I work very hard to please his palate. We are working with the same sites year after year – his comments from the previous year come to my mind and I will tell the guys in cellar – Claude’s not going to say this wine has no structure – which forces us to find the structure.
r/T: In 2015, The Walls purchased a vineyard in The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater AVA. What excites you most about your own vineyard?
Ali Mayfield: What excites me most about owning a vineyard is the chance to embrace the farming aspect of winemaking – adopting the old world mentality.All great wine is grounded in the vineyard and we look forward to getting the opportunity to see the process from beginning to end.
The Rocks are a big challenge from an operating perspective with the freeze risks and the costs to farm down there.But it offers the opportunity to make truly exceptional and distinctive wine.As a winemaker, I welcome the opportunity to express my own style with that terroir and to hopefully build upon the legacy of some of the great wines that are already made from those vineyards.
r/T:You also source from some of Washington’s top sites. How do you choose which sites to source from, and what about these sites makes them so unique with regard to microclimates and resulting flavor profiles?
Ali Mayfield: Our desire is to source the best grapes from the best vineyards in the best terroir/climate for the types of wines we are looking to make.We want each wine to have a distinct profile and characteristic, even when we make more than one of the varietal such as Syrah or Chardonnay.
A key foundation of our brand is our love of curiosity – including when it comes to wine – and how we love to be able to make and share wines that cut across the spectrum in profile.The great variety in our lineup constantly challenges the winemaking team to learn and think on a daily basis – nothing is routine about the way we make wine.It can be a very difficult and laborious task – but it also incredibly fun at the same time.And it is great when we have groups visit us at the winery and they gravitate toward different wines depending on their own preferences.
r/T: Do you adhere to any farming techniques (sustainable, biodynamic, organic) and if so, why are they important to you as a wine maker?
Ali Mayfield: “Do we adhere to any farming techniques?” is a tough question. I feel Washington State is doing a great job with sustainable farming to protect the environment, public health, human communities, and animal welfare.
I recently toured several vineyards that Phil Coturri farms, and they were all certified organic – not easy to do. This certification holds them to a higher standard of farming.
“If an organic tomato is going to taste better than a hot-house tomato, an organic grape is going to taste better than a conventionally grown grape.” – Phil Coturri
This is something I’m looking forward to learning more about – each vineyard has it’s own soul and respecting that place is important to me.
r/T: How do aging/oaking protocols vary from wine to wine?
Ali Mayfield: Oak is a fascinating subject. For me, it varies a lot from wine to wine even vineyard to vineyard. There are so many options for winemakers, but truly understanding forests and grain is an art. At The Walls we work with both specific forests, stave thickness and grain. We work with traditional 225L (59 gallons) all the way to 650L (171 gallons).
Aging is also an interesting subject. On Claude’s resent visit he said to me, “you created this wine now you have to age it.” [S]ome wine is meant for small barrels and some wines need bigger space for aging. The key is to find the balance and let the aging begin. The wines will tell us how they want to be aged.
r/T: In addition to the vineyard, about the same time The Walls purchased Whitman Cellars from Charles Smith, and has improved the 9,186 sq. ft. space with antimicrobial anti-slip floors, cutting-edge sorting and crushing equipment, solar panels, and guest accommodations. As a winemaker, what do you consider some of the coolest bells and whistles in the new winery, and how will they improve production?
Ali Mayfield: Here’s the funny part, we purchased an old 20-foot sub-zero cargo container that we refer to as “The Game Changer”, and it’s the coolest! It allows us the ability to chill our white grapes to the perfect temperature for pressing.Or, the ability to harvest Viognier for co-fermentation and chill the fruit until the Syrah is just right.
The solar system is great which was all Mike. Given the power that wineries consume – particularly during harvest – it does make us proud that we have invested to reduce the carbon footprint of our wines.
r/T:Proprietor/partner Mike Martin also purchased Charles Smith’s 2015-219 Main St. complex, including and the old Pastime Cafe, and overhauled it to create Passatempo Taverna, featuring popular mixologist Jim German and a menu created by Seattle pasta rock star Mike Easton, as well as the Passatempo Wine Studio, featuring The Walls wines. Talk about this synergy at The Walls between food and wine, and how that fits into your philosophy/mission?
Ali Mayfield: Yes, the Passatempo project has certainly been an exciting new development for Walla Walla.It has been a treat for me to get to know Jim and Mike Easton better over the last few months.
Passatempo reflects Mike Martin’s passion for creating a beautiful community enhancing space to have an amazing food, wine and spirits experience.As he frequently says – a “place where he would want to bring his friends to.” It has been a great vehicle for people in the community and visitors to get exposed to the wines we are making at The Walls – and other wines from around the Valley and of course Italy.
Passatempo and The Walls are obviously two distinct businesses that over time will develop their own followings.What they share is the passion to offer a truly exceptional experience to their followers and I am certainly proud to be able to be a part of that.
r/T: What’s it like to be part of such a strong team of industry professionals at The Walls? What do each bring to the table that enhance the whole?
Ali Mayfield: It’s fun and inspiring to be part of such a strong team. Mike has such a brain for business, he will ask me how I feel about something and my general response is – that ‘s a really smart idea. He is the heart of what we do at The Walls.
My brother, Jake Mayfield, is the Director of Winey Operations, while we certainly have our sibling differences of opinion- we work in congruence. He has done an amazing job with the development of Pine Street. He is part of our Vineyard development and building the team at The Walls.
Our Cellar Master, Roman Ferrer and I have worked together the longest and I can’t imagine anyone else looking after the wines. Claude reminds me that Roman has the most important job – topping the wines.
Peter Urian leads our lab at The Walls. He is extremely intelligent and has a great passion for winemaking. He is the go to at harvest when I need to convert centiliters to liters.They all bring so much to enhance The Walls.
r/T: Anything else you’d care to share with readers about The Walls that we haven’t touched on?
Ali Mayfield: Follow us on Instagram and Facebook to stay up to date on what we have going on and some new releases we have planned.As a new winery some of our most exciting wines are still in the barrel and have not even been released yet – so stay tuned for more details on those!
r/T: Finally, if your experience as a winemaker has taught you anything, it’s taught you…?
Ali Mayfield: Great question. My experience as a winemaker has taught me to never stop learning.
To sample wines from The Walls Vineyards, please visit:
As of Thursday, April 13, The Walls Production Facility, will be open Thursday – Sunday, 12 – 5pm and by appointment. email@example.com
The Walls wines are also available for tasting at the Passatempo Wine Studio. Passatempo Wine Studio, 219 W. Main Street, Walla Walla Saturdays & Sundays, 12 – 4pm
For more information or to make an appointment, please feel free to contact us via phone or email: 509-876-0200 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Charlie and Molly Meeker | Image courtesy Meeker Wines.
There’s no business like show business. Except the wine business. And no wine business like the family wine business. Meeker Wine owners Charlie and Molly Meeker enjoy fame, a foot – and a hand – in all three.
Back in 1977, Charlie (Attorney-turned-Film Producer-turned-Studio Executive) and Molly (actress-turned-Entertainment Business Affairs Executive) bought a “weekend” vineyard in Sonoma’s Dry Creek Vineyard.
By 1984 they established The Meeker Vineyard, going on to produce award-winning Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay.
After several years of success built upon a grueling schedule divided between Los Angeles and Sonoma, the Meekers sold their original vineyard and bought a new one in eastern Dry Creek Valley, where Charlie left studio helming in Los Angeles to focus on crafting limited production, Old World-style wines of age-worthy complexity, depth and finesse.
Today, Charlie enjoys the fruits of his labor, while Molly reprises her recurring role as Meeker Wine’s Chief Executive of Everything, son Lucas revels in his ladder-climb from cellar rat to head winemaker, and daughter Kelly steers all things media and technology.
Meeker Wines. “For us, wine means family.” Not a bad billing.
I guess terrorism strengthens ‘virtual’ bonds in some strange way. But I’d rather ‘check in’ for a positive reason…
The Hedonistic Taster
Yep, binNotes | redThread™ series The Hedonistic Taster is indeed back, taking samples, and kickin’ tasting notes.
My favorite part of the series? Sharing small-production, artisan wine makers often overlooked by the mainstream wine media with you.
Yes, it’s a labor of love. So why do it?
I do it for the same reason you read my notes – because we’re thirsty for authentic voices of the vine. Parched for pours that don’t just slake our thirst, but capture our imaginations, and stir our souls.
Cheers, and thanks for your appreciation for wine as art, not just beverage.
“Wine brings to light the hidden secrets of the soul, gives being to our hopes, bids the coward flight, drives dull care away, and teaches new means for the accomplishment of our wishes.” — Horace
Copyrighted 2017 binNotes | red Thread™. All Rights Reserved.
Chuy Ordaz of Ordaz Family Winery at home in one of the many vineyards he manages throughout Sonoma. | Image Courtesy Ordaz Family Winery.
A bridge bore Jesus “Chuy” (CHEW-ey) Ordaz to the United States from Mexico in 1972. A bridge he traversed 33 times before successfully crossing the threshold. In America, Ordaz reaped success in the grape fields of Sonoma, obtained citizenship, and catapulted wineries like Kenwood Estates to fame with his meticulous vine husbandry before carving out a career of his own in vineyard management – all while raising six children with wife and business partner Beverly.
But despite living ‘the American Dream,’ two dreams eluded Ordaz – making his own wine, and owning his own land. Until now.
Ordaz Family Wines offers single vineyards expressions crafted from some of Sonoma’s finest vineyards, all managed by Ordaz. Launched in 2009, son Eppie oversees the project, with a long-term goal of estate vineyard ownership.
The unique Ordaz Family Wines label epitomizes the family’s philosophy, “Native to Mexico (both the flower and our family), the Dahlia symbolizes the cultural beauty that continually shapes our lives. Universally, the Dahlia expresses diversity, elegance, dignity, personal expression, and the eternal bond between two people, all things that are inherent in any great bottle of wine.”
LoCa – The Wines of Lodi, California, featuring Lodi Rules
When:Wednesday, April 5th 2017 – 4 pm PST
Where: Facebook Live
What: Earth Day is April 22 & @Lodi_Wine is celebrating by going LIVE April 4th at 4pm PST/7pm EST for a virtual tasting of four (4) Lodi wines made from grapes certified under Lodi Rules – CA’s original sustainable winegrowing program! Get ready to send in comments & questions to your Lodi hosts, winegrower Aaron Shinn of Round Valley Ranches, winemaker extraordinaire Chad Joseph & Stuart Spencer of the Lodi Winegrape Commission. See you there!
Oak Farm Vineyards 2016 Sauvignon Blanc | Mohr-Fry Ranches
Bokisch Vineyard 2015 Albariño Terra Alta Vineyard
Michael David Winery 2014 Inkblot Cabernet Franc
Michael Klouda 2014 Broken Vine Zinfandel
The best part about these gloriously easy drinking, food-friendly wines? You get the inside track on a treasure-trove of small-production jewels that most of your friends don’t know about yet, but wish they did.
Don’t let the fact that Stoli Group owns this bespoke winery fool you. Arínzano boasts both a prestigious pedigree and a bit of renown as northwestern Spain’s first Vino de Pago certified winery. These artfully crafted, limited production wines range in style and price from Grand Cru-quality full-bodied affairs to easy, breezy everyday pours. Below, please find notes from my recent tasting, as well as links to my exclusive interview with Arínzano wine maker and CEO Manuel Louzada. Enjoy!
Suggested Pairing(s): No surprise this wine won the Grand Champion Best of Show at the 2017 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition. A suitable wine to spur discussion at any family or business meal, especially with freshly prepared seafood or deftly sauced poultry.
Palate: Medium body, well-timbered tannins, even-keeled acids; dried tea and rosemary on the bouche. Impeccably mannered approach, sustained mid-palate, polite, persistent finish.
Suggested Pairing(s): A serious yet adaptable wine suitable for a wide range of guest affinities, including paleo-loving pork roast or lamb shank, pescatarian-preferred salmon or ahi, and even vegan-friendly stuffed portobello mushrooms.
Palate: Pink grapefruit, mimosa, rose petal, white pepper bouche. Light body, vivid acids, attentive finish.
Suggested Pairing(s): For those seeking immediate gratification, serve ice-cold on a hot day deck, dock, patio or poolside, along with a fruit plate or tapas. For more patient quaffers, this wine opens to full-throated fragrance as it warms.