Woodward Canyon Winery and Abeja are located on the far west and east sides of Walla Walla, respectively. Together, they're among the producers of some of Washington's finest wines.
Woodward Canyon Winery is technically part of the microvillage of Lowden, situated about 13 miles west of Walla Walla. Founded in 1981 by Washington State University alumnus Rick Small, the winery is not only one of the oldest in the area, it's one of the oldest in the entire state.
In addition to about 40 acres of estate vineyards, Woodward Canyon sources its grapes from a virtual crème de la crème triumvirate of Washington vineyards: Champoux, Celilo and Sagemoor.
During a recent visit, Marketing Director Marlene Steiner took me on a tour of the winery's newly added Reserve House, which includes a sleek wine cellar for private tastings, plus a dining area and kitchen that provides lunch on selected days. That's a particularly nice feature, since there's really no other place in the immediate area that offers food service.
My current favorites include the Non-Vintage Dry White Riesling (about $19), brimming with honeydew and Fuji apple flavors, good acidity and a touch of minerality; the extremely well-priced, merlot-based Non-Vintage Red Wine blend (about $21); and a stunning 2011 Chardonnay (about $44) with flavors of green apple and white peach that melt into a lengthy finish with hints of caramel and butter cream.
Woodward Canyon wines are available at local wine shops and grocers, and can be purchased at the tasting room and online at woodwardcanyon.com.
Abeja, located about five miles east of Walla Walla, is a collection of renovated farm buildings that include both the winery and an inn consisting of six private guest houses. There's an air of exclusivity surrounding the serenely isolated property, and visits to the tasting room are restricted to inn guests on a limited basis and to mailing list members on two select weekends. (Not to worry, Abeja wines are available for purchase locally at Compass Wines in Anacortes.)
What impressed me most about Abeja was winemaker John Abbott's skill in crafting beginning-to-end consistency in the fragrance, flavor and finish of each wine.
Current releases include a 2011 Chardonnay (about $36) with lovely aromas and flavors of Bosc pear, baked apple, butterscotch, and vanilla bean; and the powerful, yet elegant 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon (about $44) with notes of wild berries, black cherry and a dusting of baking spice.
A 2010 Merlot (about $38) is also scheduled for release sometime this fall.
Dan Radil is a wine enthusiast who lives in Bellingham. Reach him at www.danthewineguy.com.
Reach DEAN KAHN at email@example.com or call 715-2291.