“Our Grand Meander” Walla Walla – Mannina Cellars

Mannina Cellars is a new winery for us.  A Minneapolis friend (thanks, B.J.!) who knows our interest in food-friendly wines highly recommended we visit them while in Walla Walla.  As a wine touring destination, Walla Walla still has that “diamond in the rough” quality.  You won’t see signs like “Tour Bus Parking.”  The area still has a strong farming/ranching emphasis to balance the wineries and nice restaurants.  It’s a refreshing combination.

Mannina Cellars is owned and operated by Don and Nicole Redman.  They currently make 1,700 cases annually, with a goal of 4,000.  All their vineyard sources are in the Walla Walla Valley.  They farm a 20 acre estate vineyard, and as of the 2012 vintage, they are transitioning to all estate grown fruit.  They don’t believe in using a lot of new oak.  Most barrels are older American and Hungarian oak and they source used barrels from other local wineries, such as the well known Leonetti.

Mannina Cellars has a beautiful view of the blue mountains.

In the tasting room, I was met by Nicole, who told me all about their family history and their approach to making wines.  The Mannina name comes from Don’s  grandmother, who’s picture hangs on the wall.  One of their wines is named Cali, the grandmother’s maiden name.

Nicole Redman wears many hats, including managing the tasting room.

The wines were very nice: food-friendly, low alcohol, no overt oak, and very dry with excellent acidity.  When I met Don, he commented that not long ago, 22 brix was considered ripe.  Now, many wineries let grapes hang until they are 26 brix and higher.  Ripe grapes contribute to big flavors but low acidity, popular with many, but not as food  friendly at the dinner table.  True to form, Mannina Cellars wines were restrained with good acidity and structure.  You could just imagine how they would pair nicely with a pasta dish!

Mannina Cellars focuses on red wines with an Italian flavor.

When we went back into the winery, Don was busy with the day’s work.  He stopped for a chat and it was immediately apparent how enthusiastic and committed he is to his vineyard and winery.

Don Redman was out working in the winery.

We toured through the winery space and saw grapes in various stages of the fermentation process.  Some were waiting to be sorted and prepared to begin fermentation.

Some of the grapes are waiting to be processed.

Some fermenter bins were full, busy turning grapes into wine.  You can feel the warmth coming off the grapes and see and hear the bubbling of fermentation.

Some of the vats are happily foaming away in fermentation.

After a certain period of time, the grapes are pressed and transferred to barrel where they can complete the fermentation process.  After observing Mannina Cellars’ natural approach, I could see that “hands off” is still an incredible amount of work and love.  It’s much appreciated.

A special cork tops the barrel while still fermenting. Beautiful colors!

I had a very nice time meeting with Don and Nicole Redman.  We have a selection of Mannina Cellars wines on their way to Minnesota so we can get to know the wines better at the dinner table.

Don and Nicole Redman show that Mannina Cellars is a real family winery.

Thanks to Don and Nicole Redman, we look forward to a future visit!

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