The first time we stopped by Garrison Creek Cellars (www.garrisoncreekcellars.com) in Walla Walla we were immediately surprised by the attention to detail at both the vineyard and the winery itself. The second time we visited it we brought some friends from Spokane who had the same initial impression that we did.
This unique well maintained boutique winery with impeccable vineyards is a must when visiting this part of the state.
This winery started based on a friendship of three young boys (Michael Murr, David March and Larry Harding) that goes back many years when they actually worked as farm hands in the 50s and 60s on the very land their winery is on today.
During our two visits David not only inspired us with his tales of the past but also let us sample right out of the barrel of what’s to come.
The winery itself is the replica of a barn that actually exists in Oregon. This is no ordinary barn. This is a high- end facility built with a lot of planning, craftsmanship and care.
There are sections built with timbers that are more than 150 years old. The barn alone is worth the trip and you really need to see it in person to understand its significance (photos are on their website).
Garrison Creek grapes come from the “Les Collines” vineyard in Walla Walla and experiencing them in person underscores the winery’s deep commitment to excellence. David was clear that they want to have full control over their grapes and do what is necessary to produce the best grapes in the state. David said they sell a majority of their grapes to other wine makers but keep the best of the best of those grapes for their own wines.
Garrison Creek Cellars is a boutique winery making only a limited number of cases per variety each year.
Their wines are slow to arrive to market as they will not release anything before its time. We tasted and bought the now sold out 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon (only 392 cases) and the sold out 2007 Zinfandel (only 150 cases).
The 2006 Cabernet was distinguished by an early, hot summer allowing the grapes to reach full ripeness by mid-October. After 10 days of primary fermentation, they pressed the new wine off the grape skins into new French oak barrels to begin the long, slow aging process. The wine was in the barrels for 31 months before being bottle aged for another 30 months before release. This wine was nothing less than fabulous.
The 2007 Zinfandel had 19 months in the barrel and another 18 months of bottle aging before it was released. It was one of the best Washington Zinfandels have ever tried.
Garrison Creek Cellars might be one of the many newer wineries in the state, but they are quickly becoming one of the premier wineries in Washington as well. Another unique aspect to Garrison Creek is that David makes an incredible pate that we enjoyed while tasting some of their fabulous wines.
They also offer some of their earlier library editions for those who missed out on their original release.