In the past couple of months, there has been a lot going on in the wine scene in Walla Walla. Here's the latest news.

Cayuse Recalls 2015 Wines

One of the biggest stories has been the announcement that Cayuse Vineyards will not be releasing most of its 2015 reds. Apparently, there were defective corks that were used in bottling a large batch of 2015s. The defect was not due to TCA, the most usual defect, but the paraffin coating on the corks. It is not unusual to use coated corks for bottle closures. The coating helps make sliding the corks into and out of the bottle necks easier. What is unusual, though, is the excessive amount of paraffin on the corks Cayuse used. The result has been described as an oily film on the wines which clearly detracted from the product. This discovery led to the decision to not release the affected wines. This is a great disappointment as the Cayuse 2015's were outstanding at the winery's barrel sample tasting last April. It is to Cristophe Baron's highest credit that the wines are not being released.

Walla Walla Lands the 2018 Wine Bloggers Conference

For the second time in less than a decade. Walla Walla has been selected as the venue for the Annual Wine Bloggers Conference. The Conference will be held October 4-7 at the Marcus Whitman Conference Center. It will be a joint effort of Visit Walla Walla, the tourism agency, and the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance, the winery industry association.  

Billo Naravane Named Master of Wine

Recently, Billo Naravane, co-owner and winemaker of Rasa Vineyards, has been named a Master of Wine, a high honor held by only 369 persons in the world. He recently went to London to be inducted into the organization. His Research Thesis topic was "Anthrocynanin Sequestration." Billo is also winemaker for Sinclair Estate Vineyards. See the December issue of the Review of Washington Wines for reviews of Rasa Vineyards' fall Releases. The Sinclair Estate wines will be in the January 2018 issue. Congratulations to Billo!

Côtes de Ciel Opens a Tasting Room in Downtown Walla Walla

The Côtes de Ciel winery opened its tasting room on the corner of East Rose and Second Avenue in conjunction with G Cuneo Cellars in November. The Estate bottled wines come from the Holmes Family's Ciel du Coeval Vineyard on Red Mountain. The winemaker is Richard Holmes. The current Côtes de Ciel releases will be reviewed in the January issue.

Gordy Venneri Retires from Walla Walla Vintners

Three weeks ago, Gordy Venneri retired as co-owner of Walla Walla Vintners on the Mill Creek Road east of Walla Walla. He and Myles Anderson started the winery in 1995, after making their own wine while on the faculty of the Walla Walla Community College. Anderson sold his interest in the winery in February 2017 to Scott Halladay of Portland. Then, just recently it was announced that Gordy would be departing as well. Best wishes to Gordy upon his retirement, a reward well deserved.

Todd Bernave and Jason Fox to Partner at Lagana Cellars

Yesterday, it was announced that Todd Bernave, formerly assistant winemaker at Walla Walla Vintners, is joining Jason Fox at Lagana Cellars. Todd's press release states, "It was my privilege and honor to work under Walla Walla wine legends Miles Anderson and Gordy Venneri for almost a decade. Their knowledge and guidance helped forge my love of wine and for that, I will always be thankful. I look forward to the challenges this opportunity affords, and I couldn't ask for a better partner than Mr. Jason Fox." This looks like a win, win situation for both partners. Watch for reviews of Lagana Cellars' "Nox Perpetual" wines in the January issue.

Time & Direction to Debut Soon

Steve Wells new personal project, Time & Direction Wines, will be debuting during the Walla Walla Valley Holiday Barrel Weekend, December 1-2. The wines will be previewed at M & L Productions (the location of Aryn Morell Wines, at which Steve is assistant winemaker) on 1489 West Rose Street. For more information, go to I will be attending the preview and will be reporting on it next week.