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Jean-François Pellet: 2015 Washington Winemaker of the Year

Oct. 12, 2015

Jean-François Pellet: 2015 Washington Winemaker of the Year
"When the French influence on the Walla Walla Valley is discussed, Jean-François Pellet is often mentioned with Christophe Baron, Marie-Eve Gilla and Gilles Nicault (three outstanding French-born Walla Walla Valley winemakers). There's only one problem: Pellet isn't French. He was raised in Switzerland, in a family with deep roots in the wine trade. Pellet's father worked the same Swiss vineyard for more than three decades, and Jean-François' first winegrowing experience was working alongside his dad. Degrees in enology and viticulture followed, as did stints making wine in Switzerland, Germany and Spain before Pellet landed in the Napa Valley in the mid-90s. After four years at the venerable Heitz Cellar, he was persuaded in 1999 to move to the Walla Walla Valley and join Pepper Bridge Winery. Since Pellet's arrival, the Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots under the Pepper Bridge label have become reference points for the Walla Walla Valley, exemplars of structured, classy, age-worthy wines. In 2001, Pellet helped launch Amavi Cellars, a sister winery to Pepper Bridge, and quickly set about proving that his expertise was not limited to Cabs and Merlots.

The Amavi line, whose prices are considerably more accessible than Pepper Bridge's, includes a bright, delicious Sémillon, a juicy rosé of Cabernet Franc, multiple Syrahs featuring our estate Vineyard of the Year (Les Collines), and a Cabernet Sauvignon that can drink like a baby Pepper Bridge. In addition to his winemaking work, Pellet plays a major role in the management of Pepper Bridge/Amavi's estate vineyards, the king (Pepper Bridge Vineyard), the queen (Seven Hills Vineyard) and the crown prince (Les Collines Vineyard) of the Walla Walla Valley."
- Seattle Magazine's Washington Wine Awards; view full article here.