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Spring 2011 Newsletter

2008 Cabernet Sauvignon

Layered and complex, our 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon demonstrates a genuine sense of place and exquisite balance. First, scents of plums, black cherries, flowers and gravel emerge. Then, aromas of melting dark chocolate, toast, coffee bean and earth start to show. Soft, polished tannins cradle an amazing core of ripe dark fruits and subtle minerality. The supple mouthfeel leads seamlessly to a long, elegant finish.

Production is limited to only 2,300 cases. Bridge Club members: $264 per six-pack. Non-members: $330 per six-pack. To make a purchase or learn more about the club, please contact us at 509-525-6502 or lisa@pepperbridge.com, or order online. (See a brief overview of the Bridge Club below).

Fun Facts from Walla Walla

1) Yes, Walla Walla and the Washington wine industry are growing in leaps and bounds, but how big are we, really? Take a look at these figures:

  • ­­Washington produces 4% of the wine made in the USA.
  • ­Walla Walla produces 4% of Washington's wine.
  • California produces more than 90% of the wine in the USA.
  • Napa represents 5% of the wine produced in California.

2) Each year, Wine & Spirits magazine makes a list of the top 100 wineries worldwide.

  • This year, five of those 100 were from Walla Walla.
  • ­Along with Pepper Bridge, the following wineries were honored: Amavi Cellars, Gramercy Cellars, L'Ecole 41, and Leonetti Cellar.

From the Winegrower

Historical Perspective
It was ten years ago - 2001 - when we released our first vintage, the 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon. Many of you have been with us since that crisp March day we first opened our winery to the public, and we appreciate your loyalty. However, a good number of you have come on board in the past few years and may not know our story. I'd like to give you a brief historical perspective.

Representing the three families of Pepper Bridge (left to right): Norm McKibben, Virginia McKibben, Ray Goff, Travis Goff, Eric McKibben, Diana Goff, and Jean-François Pellet.So, you probably know that we are a family business. What you may not know is that we are actually a three-family owned and operated winery and one of the first 20 to open up in this wonderful growing region with a whimsical name - Washington's Walla Walla Valley.

Our story begins with me as a grape grower who wanted to build a winery to showcase my estate vineyards: Pepper Bridge and Seven Hills. I own blocks in each of these, and in 1998, I decided to hold back some of the harvest for myself rather than sell to other wineries.

In the year 1999, I joined forces with Anheuser-Busch veteran Ray Goff and third-generation winemaker Jean-François Pellet. Together we began design and construction of the gravity-flow winery we use today. With Ray and I both being retired engineers, and Jean-François' Swiss heritage, you can rest assured there was much attention to detail.

In 2003, my son Eric came on board to help manage finances and accounting. Later that year, Ray's daughter Travis started hitting the road in a sales and marketing capacity. Both became partners a couple of years ago and now are key members of our management team. These days, Ray and I like to take an advisory role as much as possible and let Jean-François (operations/winemaking), Eric (finance) and Travis (sales/marketing) make key decisions.

A view from the tasting room shows a storm brewing in the Blue Mountains. We welcome precipitation this time of year.The last decade has flown by, with lots of hard work and many happy memories. We continue to focus exclusively on estate-grown Bordeaux-style wines, and we are only one of the few wineries in this region that hold the designation of 100% sustainably farmed and 100% estate.

As you can probably imagine, with a great winemaker, two engineers, and two partners with MBAs as a management team, we are always exploring new ways to improve already great wines. To complement our sustainably farmed vineyards, this past year we became the first sustainably certified winery in the state. For the 2010 crush we started using an optical sorter after the grapes had already passed hand sorting, and you would be amazed to see how clean the grapes are once they have passed through the computer/camera.

We also have the luxury of watching as our vineyard blocks mature and add quality each year. Come visit us and learn the rest of the story!

Cheers,
Norm McKibben

Meet the Team: Stacy Luxich

If you have visited our Woodinville Tasting Room, perhaps you have already met Stacy. She's hard to miss, with a bright smile and contagious enthusiasm. Since we opened in June of last year, she has been the face of our Seattle-area satellite operation as our Tasting Room Manager.

Joining Pepper Bridge Winery was a natural progression in Stacy's life. Raised locally in Western Washington's Snoqualmie Valley, she developed an interest in delicacies early on. First came a love for food, and an interest in wine followed.

 While working for the Seattle's Jak's Grill for about ten years, she was given the opportunity to sample countless wines from around the world. This not only gave her the chance to develop her palate, but also turned her curiosity of wine into a full-blown passion.

Although Stacy is a self-proclaimed "foodie" and consistently seeks out new restaurants to try, this is simply one facet of her personality. As a mother of two young men, family and friends are very important to her. Also, she is an avid runner who has completed seven marathons to date! Her most memorable marathon was Kona because she finished second in her age group and raised $3,000 for arthritis. Her goal is to qualify to for the Boston marathon, and she's very close.

At the moment, she's too busy to train seriously but still enjoys putting on some upbeat music - anything from Ozzy to U2 - and going for a run. Her running partner, Mark Butcher, also happens to be her partner in life and biggest supporter. They plan to get in gear by this fall to run Portland or Sacramento.

Home Delivery

Many of you already take advantage of the fact that we are happy to ship our wines to your home or office, provided it is legal.

Each year, Winemaker Jean-François Pellet takes the tasting room staff of Pepper Bridge and Amavi on tour to visit other wineries. Here Jean-François, Ciera Christensen, Patty Lynch and Lisa Schmidt tour Archery Summit with Anna Matzinger (back to the camera) in Oregon's Willamette Valley.

Thirty-four states allow you to receive shipments: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

If your state is not on this list, contact your legislators and urge them to promote free trade. For more information, visit www.freethegrapes.org. Your other option would be to ask your favorite retailer to order in our wines.

Norm Receives Top Honor for Cooperative Actions

In February, The Oregon Wine Board presented The Founders' Award to Managing Partner Norm McKibben. This award is given to "a person whose longtime work in the industry has laid the groundwork for the direction and accomplishments of the industry and whose efforts have helped foster cooperation among growers and winemakers."

Norm was key in the establishment of the Walla Walla Valley appellation, which straddles the Washington and Oregon state borders. He remains the major force in expanding vineyard acreage, attracting top winemaking talent, and building a sustainable wine industry in Walla Walla.


Pepper Bridge Acclaim

We were recently honored by these respected publications.

95 Points, 'A Classic'

  • ­Wine & Spirits magazine thrilled us with their blind-tasting review of our 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. They said the wine "is in every way a classic" and commented on its "uncanny elegance and length."

  • ­Wine Enthusiast also called our 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, a "Cellar Selection" and gave it 94 points.

Best Merlot of the Year

  • ­Food & Wine magazine named our 2007 Merlot the "Best of the Year" over $20, based on a blind tasting.

To order the wines mentioned, click here. Or... as always, feel free to call us at (509)525-6502.

Upcoming Events:

One Weekend
Two of Walla Walla's premiere events have joined forces to offer the ultimate wine weekend on June 16-18. Dubbed "One Weekend," this festive gathering will incorporate parts of the popular Vintage Walla Walla -  and the Entwine Grand Auction. Join us as we and other wineries feature winemaker dinners, a downtown walking tour, rare wine tastings, an auction and barrel art. For more information, please visit www.onewineweekend.com.

Shakespeare in Walla Walla
Now in its fourth year, Shakespeare Walla Walla (SWW) continues to garner rave reviews. Its audience has grown so much that three plays will be presented this summer: Macbeth and Comedy of Errors in the outdoor Amphitheater and Swan Song in the new Power House Theatre, which is currently under construction/restoration. This new indoor venue will host several works of Shakespeare between October and May each year. For more details visit: www.ShakespeareWallaWalla.org.

Bridge Club Day:

Kickoff to Spring Release May 6

(Left to right) Paul Rickey and Jay Stenehjem joke with Assistant Winemaker Tim Kerrigan as they accept their prizes at last year's pétanque tournament.It is our longstanding tradition to invite our Bridge Club members to the winery on the first day of Spring Release weekend for a private party. Rain or shine, we always find a way to have fun.

This year we are throwing a luau, catered by the Fat Duck Inn. Please join us on May 6 in your most festive attire!

Social hour starts at 11:00 a.m. and we will serve lunch at noon. Our always popular pétanque tournament will kick off at 1:00 p.m. Be ready for friendly competition, some new faces and old rivalries... and of course, prizes. The whole team will be here (Lisa, Ciera, Richard, Norm, Virginia, Ray, Diana, Eric, Jean-François and Travis), and we are looking forward to seeing you!

For Bridge Club members only. RSVP required as we have limited seating. Contact Lisa at 509-525-6502 or lisa@pepperbridge.com. Interested in the Bridge Club? See below.

For a complete list of upcoming events, please visit our Events Calendar.

Bridge Club:

Membership Information

Here are the basics, please contact us for more details. Membership is free and entitles you to:

  • 20% discount on all purchases of current-vintage wines;
  • Free tastings at the winery and Woodinville tasting room, and free tours;
  • Access to small-production wines such as our Pepper Bridge and Seven Hills single-vineyard blends; and
  • Invitations to exclusive winery events.

For more details on the club, click here.

Rosebud, our winery dog, snacks on some grapes left on the vine after harvest. She joined the Pepper Bridge family last summer.