Bottling at Robison Ranch Cellars
One evening, while having dinner at Brasserie Four on Main Street in Walla Walla, we met an interesting older couple, Jim and Jane Robison. He is a third generation wheat rancher in the Valley and they have been married sixty years. He told us he had started a winery a few years ago and would have us over to have a look. A few weeks later, we got a call from Jane Robison to invite us over for the bottling of their Viognier and Rose.
So, on Tuesday, August 11, Lynn and I drove up the Lower Waitsburg Road to the Robison Ranch. There, inside a shed we found an improvised bottling line set up, manned by several friends. The winemakers, Brad Riordan and his wife, Ruth, were directing the process. First, shots of nitrogen were injected into the bottles to prevent spoilage, then the bottles were filled on a six-bottle nozzle machine. Following that, the bottles were corked, and then I (who upon arrival was put to work) put them into cases, taped them and stacked them on pallets. Occasionally there would be a spill, and Lynn would help with the cleanup. First, 40-plus cases of 2008 Viognier were bottled, then 30-plus cases of Rose. We finished about noon, and then had deli sandwiches along with Robison Ranch Viognier and Rose. All had a great time. I spent some time talking with Brad Riordan and learned that he had studied at the Walla Walla Community College's Center for Enology and Viticulture under the late Stan Clarke, and then teamed up with the Robisons to start Robison Ranch Cellars. The first two vintages, 2006 and 2007 were experimental, developing styles, testing oaks and nutrients, before its first bonded crush as a licensed winery in 2008.
After lunch, the Robisons invited us to view their property and the incredible view of the Blues wherever you looked. They were gracious hosts, and sent us hone with some bottles from Robison Ranch Cellars.
Robison Ranch Cellars' First Commercial Release
A few days later, I got an email from Brad Riordan asking me what I though of the wines. I responded that they were very well done and a fine first effort. He was particularly interested to know about the Rose, as they were about to market it. So here's my review:
2008 Robison Ranch Cellars Rose, Walla Walla Valley ($20)
Composed of Syrah, Viognier, Merlot and Sangiovese, this Rose displays a brilliant reddish color, with a smoky, flowery nose of crushed raspberries, orange peel and spice scents. Fairly dry on the palate with considerable extract for a Rose, it is infused with vivid fruits and notes of sage and coriander along with touches of minerals and loamy earth. The finish is long and fairly dry, yet finely fruited, like squeezed berry and pomegranate juice with a twist of orange peel reemerging in the aftertaste. 18+/20 points.
Glencorrie Cellars has an Open House
On August 18, we attended an Open House for the wine industry at Glencorrie Cellars, one of the Walla Walla Valley's newest wineries (I will be reporting on it in the September issue of the Review). Ronn Coldiron, the owner-winemaker, his wife, Michelle and the tasting room manager, Heidi Humbert, hosted the event, complete with a beautifully-catered spread and live music. Many winemakers were on hand to celebrate. From nearby wineries on Highway 12 were Chuck Reininger of Reininger and David Hansen of Cougar Crest. From further out, were Tanya Woodley and Elaine Jomwe of SuLei (another new winery that will be reviewed next month), Norm McKibben of Pepper Bridge, Muriel Kenyon of Otis Kenyon and others. It was a grand event, complete with a blazing sunset.