Walla Walla: Apple of My Eye

About 3 years ago I met a contractor from Washington State. I had just come back from a flight where I read about Walla Walla in one of those airline magazines. The entire article focused on the region gaining recognition for several wine varietals, including Cabernet Sauvignon – one of my favorites.  When I asked my new contractor friend what he thought of Walla Walla, he looked at me, laughed and said something to the effect of ‘…good old Walla Walla. There’s nothing out there but apple orchards’.

We went back and forth about whether or not this region had anything to offer beyond the big red juicy apples that Washington has become acclaimed for. By the end of our conversation, I concluded that this place was a diamond in the rough. That airline article had served its purpose in convincing me that Walla Walla sounded best with ‘wine’ tagged at the end of it (not ‘apples’). Since then, I’ve been thinking I’d like to go up there and check it out first hand. Well, my chance has finally come – this June, I’ll be attending a national wine conference whose destination is none other than the ‘Land of Apple Orchards’ (aka. Walla Walla)!

It appears now that Walla Walla is coming out of the woodwork; it has exponentially evolved into what is considered to be a well known wine region by the industry itself. Here’s the strangest part: just this week, I ran into this same contractor that I had the Walla Walla conversation with some 3 years earlier. I asked if he could give me any good Walla Walla tips for my upcoming trip (other than the best apple tree for climbing). He said ‘oh yeah…Walla Walla… it is so beautiful there. You’re the one that was talking about it with me a few years ago. I was just talking about you recently and how crazy I thought you were. Turns out, you were on to something.’ Apparently, he is now well aware of the fact that Walla Walla means Wine. He even has friends who flew from New York to taste Walla Walla wines recently. Although he hasn’t been yet himself, he said that he heard it’s actually the next Napa. What was my response? ‘I knew it! How much time have I wasted wondering about Walla Walla?’ I had a vision (and read an article) and it was spot on. Now if only I had a few acres and some vines out there…

Walla Walla Fun Facts:

– There are about 100 wineries in Walla Walla today
– ‘Walla Walla’ comes from a Native American term for ‘running water’
– The region gets about 8” of rain vs. western Washington’s 48”
– Walla Walla ranked #10 of the nation’s apple-growing counties (‘97)
– It also ranked #4 of the nation’s green pea-growing counties (‘97)
– In ‘06, it was rated a best places to retire in US by Money Magazine

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