“Our Grand Meander” Walla Walla – Rotie Cellars

One of our first stops in Walla Walla was at the Rotie Cellars tasting room.  We met owner and winemaker Sean Boyd last year and joined the wine club (the “Rotiesians.”)  This year, we visited in the midst of the hectic fall harvest/crush.  We weren’t able to catch Sean, but Alicia, the tasting room manager hosted us for a private visit.

Rotie Cellars has been in business for several years, with the 2008 vintage being their first commercial vintage.  They currently ship 2,500 cases of wine per year.  They combine old world wine-making techniques with the best Rhone varietals grown from grapes of the eastern Washington/Oregon AVA’s.  They source grapes from vineyards which ripen at lower potential alcohol levels, avoid new oak, and stress finesse in the finished wine.  They also aren’t afraid of developing the earthy tones common in old-world versions of these wines.

Rotie Cellars has a beautiful tasting room in the center of downtown Walla Walla.

Alicia juggled her schedule to host us outside the normal tasting room hours.  She was very knowledgeable about each of the wines currently available.

Alicia runs the tasting room and all the direct distribution.

Rotie produces a variety of traditional Rhone-influenced wines.  The choices include a northern Rhone Syrah which conforms to the AOC rules for Cote Rotie with the obvious difference that this is a Washington wine!  In a similar fashion, there is a Southern Rhone red blend, a Southern Rhone white blend, and a Northern Rhone white blend, all modeled after their traditional Rhone counterparts.  The wines with the unique labels are not necessarily produced every year, as they depend on what might be the best showcase type wines for that vintage.  This year, there is a a Mourvedre, a Grenache, and an “Homage” to Chateauneuf-du-Pape.  With the restraint they show, Rotie cellars has made Julie a fan of Grenache and Syrah!

Rotie tasting lineup for the fall season.

Rotie Cellars shares winery space with another winery (Mannina Cellars), so I was able to take a few photos of the Rotie crush in action during a visit to Mannina Cellars.

Processing grapes at Rotie Cellars.

Harvest season results in stained hands!

Grapes after sorting & destemming.

Fermenting grapes at the winery.

We enjoy finding American winemakers who bring traditional approaches to winemaking (old world) with American grapes (new world).  Sean Boyd and Rotie Cellars is one of our favorite Washington sources of these wonderful, food friendly wines.

Rotie Cellars crafts traditional Rhone varietals with a Washington flair.

We love dogs, and Nola (Alicia’s dog) is a tasting room natural.  She was very friendly and immediately comfortable around us!

Nola is immediately everyone’s best friend.

After tasting through the lineup, we took several of the new releases to complement our earlier shipment.  Of course, Nola was very appreciative.

Nola shows her appreciation!

Thanks to Alicia for hosting us, and we hope to catch up with Sean on our next visit!

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