Walla Walla: A new home for the French?
They are in the vineyards, in the restaurants, in the shops, it seems whatever corner you take in Walla Walla one tends to bump into the French. It seems Walla Walla has now become a small enclave for the French Vignerons. But why has Walla Walla attracted many of these highly regarded French winemakers over the last few decades? Here are five quick reasons.
1) France's vineyards are constricted by boundary laws. A designated district has only so much space to grow grapes and when the land it’s gone its gone-one has to find somewhere else to grow. Here is perfectly suited.
2) Walla Walla shares a very similar climate to Bordeaux, just slightly warmer with a better consistency for vintages, virtually no pests, and thus little use for chemicals. France has had a chemical past ingrained in their winemaking.
3) Winemakers are using familiar grapes to the one’s they are used to in France, They’ve honed their skills at a young age on the Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot grape varieties.
5) It’s a wonderfully place to come and learn and share knowledge for winemakers. The region is so young, vibrant and buzzing with young winemakers all of whom are eager to soak up, share and impart knowledge- this is of course is reciprocal.
Christophe Baron : Cayuse
Born in Champagne, he is the youngest of the centuries-old Champagne House, Baron Albert and his ancestors have worked the land since 1677. He’s studied viticulture in Champagne and Burgundy and wanted to travel the world. After a visit to Walla Walla, Baron initially purchased ten acres within the Walla Walla Valley Farmland, the terror and land reminded him of the cobblestones vineyards of Chateauneuf du Pape. He makes some of the most prized and expensive wines worldwide. They say his wines are like sucking on rocks they are so mineral. He has become one of the most influent winemakers in Walla Walla.
Serge Laville : Spring Valley Vineyard
Serge grew up in France’s Northern Cote du Rhone. Passionate of photography he also has a background in chemistry, biology and enology. Later on, he went to Walla Walla and met Devin Corkrum Derby who invited him to make wine at the Spring Valley Estate. Devin impressed with Serge’s winemaking soon made him assistant in the winery at Spring Valley. When Devin passed away, Serge took over the reins the lead of the winery and became Spring’s Valley’s senior winemaker.
Gilles Nicault : Long Shadows
Gilles grew up in Southern France and has a degree in viticulture and enology. After working in the Cotes du Rhone, Provence and Champagne, Gilles wanted to extend his skills and arrived in Walla Walla in 1994. Since 2003 he has worked with a group of celebrated vintners from around the globe, each making a unique cuvee. Long Shadow’s director of winemaking and viticulture he ensures that each winemaker’s vision is realized from the vineyard to the cellar.