In Empire, California, some 400 copies of Little Red Riding Hood are locked away in a storage room of the public school district because the classic Grimm’s fairy tale recounts that the little girl took a bottle of wine to her grandmother. — Roger Cohen, New York Times, April 23, 1990
Hey, do you ever feel like going back to school? Well, if in Walla Walla, WA, the recommended school is L’Ecole #41.
L’Ecole #41 (French for school) is Walla Walla’s third oldest winery and a “must-do” for visitors to the area. Established in 1983, L’Ecole founders were determined to give to the world a product that would excel in every possible way. Have they succeeded?
Wine and Spirits Magazine seems to think so: for eleven consecutive years (2002 – 2012) they have named L’Ecole Winery of the Year! L’Ecole has been inducted into that magazine’s Hall of Fame; only the second Washington State winery to have that honor.
Wine Press Northwest named L’Ecole 2004 Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year.
Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast and Wine and Spirits consistently list their wines in the Top 100 of the year. The accolades and awards are, truly, too numerous to list.
And the staff couldn’t be more generous, helpful or just plain nice. When I imbibed worked recently, on a day of intermittent deluges, the tasting room was overflowing with joy and fun. A bridal party, who had a late afternoon appointment with the Justice of the Peace, was making their way from tasting room to tasting room before the BIG MOMENT arrived. The jokes, wisecracking and laughter was pinging off the walls and encompassed everyone in the place. It was impossible not to feel this couples love and devotion. Congratulations to them!
L’Ecole’s tasting room is located in the old Frenchtown Schoolhouse, District 41. It is beautifully preserved, light and airy, but does have a school ambience. (It’s kinda fun to have a glass here – you feel a bit naughty, like your old principal is watching, but can’t do anything).
And yeah! L’Ecole is the only winery in the Walla Walla area to offer Chenin Blanc, one of Wine Tramp’s favorite whites. They offer 6-8 pours daily. I chose three.
2012 Chenin Blanc: I could have had the barrel. This is crisp and fruity, with great balance. It’s full of soft, ripe fruits – peach, mango, orange and a hint of Granny Smith apple. No oak touches this wine; it is barreled in stainless steel only. Fantastic.
2010 Cabernet Sauvignon: The fruit for this wine comes from four premier Walla Walla Valley vineyards. This is a wine ripe with rich, juicy black fruits. It has a somewhat spicy, long finish.
2009 Apogee Pepper Bridge: A perfect finish to a tasting; this Cabernet Sauvignon based red blend is rich and special. It is full of nuanced fruits (blackberries, currents, and cherries) with leather, tobacco and licorice. Elegant in every way.
In the early 1980’s L’Ecole partnered with two other premier local wineries, Leonetti Cellar and Pepper Bridge Winery, in the development and production of both Seven Hills Vineyard and SeVein Vineyard. From these vineyards, L’Ecole gets one third of their red grapes. Vintages from Seven Hills Vineyards are the wines most consistently ranked so highly by the top tier magazines.
Fruit is also sourced from prime vineyards throughout the Columbia Valley Appellation of Washington and Oregon.
Not only does L’Ecole shine in wines, but they are also leaders in sustainable farming practices. As partners in VINEA, the Walla Walla Valley Winemakers Sustainable Trust program, L’Ecole sources grapes only from vineyards using environmentally and socially responsible viticultural methods. Their Columbia Valley vineyards are LIVE (Low Input Viticulture and Enology) certified. All the Walla Walla Valley vineyards are certified Salmon Safe.
So … head back to school at L’Ecole. You will learn a lot.
As always, drink and drive responsibly.