Scroll To Top

Fall 2013 News

 Harvest is Complete and we're Toasting to a
Fabulous 2013 Vintage!

Here is what Norm McKibben had to say about our 2013 growing season and what to expect from its subsequent bounty:

QJ0F1636A Warmer Year in the Walla Walla Valley
By: Norm McKibben, Managing Partner & Grape Grower

This year marked one of the warmest Walla Walla Valley summers since I started growing grapes here in 1991. In terms of accumulated heat units (a way of measuring the amount of warmth and sunshine that reaches the grapes throughout the season), we are about one week ahead of where we were in 2003: our most recent "hot" vintage.

Many have asked what this meant for the vineyards. In terms of predicting, we can expect the 2013 vintage to be similar to the 2003 vintage.  Insight can be gained through Winemaker Jean-François Pellet's description of this vintage upon its release in 2006:528498_10151091136870967_962443203_n
"Although the Walla Walla Valley's 2003 growing season was one of the warmest and driest in the past decade, our estate fruit thrived. During the long, warm days, the grapes savored the sun and ripened to ideal sugar levels. Cool nights locked in the perfect amount of acidity, creating well balanced flavors. Our wines from this vintage are expressive and concentrated with silky tannins."
I'm sure that those of you lucky enough to be familiar with the 2003 vintage will agree it was a great vintage. So, why am I willing to stick my neck out and say that 2013 will be an even better vintage? I have several very valid reasons, and I will share a few here.

  • Our vineyards have an additional 10 years of maturity that allow us to expect marked improvement from those achieved in 2003.
  • Our vineyard managers and winemaking team have gained another decade of experience in farming the land of the Walla Walla Valley and producing world-class grapes for our beautiful wines.
  • The winery equipment technology has evolved. Those of you who have seen our optical IMG_6667sorter in the last few years know what I mean. We also own a mobile bottling line (in a joint venture with Abeja), which allows us to bottle exactly when we want, utilizing state-of-the-art equipment. 

We're excited about where we are and look forward to the places the road will take us - and we thank you for being a part of the journey.

PB Holiday PackPepper Bridge Winery Holiday Packs

Featuring 1 bottle Each of
2010 Cabernet Sauvignon | 2010 Trine | 2011 Merlot

Let us make the gift-giving easy this holiday season by sending the special people in your life a Pepper Bridge Winery holiday pack. Each shipment includes a gift box complete with customized note as well as ground shipping, all for the price of $175.00. Offer expires 12/15/13. Click here to order online.

Bridge Club members can make special requests to Bridge Club Manager Lisa Schmidt by emailing or by calling 509-525-6502.

Looking for a fun way to entertain friends or colleagues
in the Seattle area this holiday season?

A few weeks back our Woodinville Tasting Room Manager, Jennifer Clapp, held a WINE-101WV Event class for a few club members and 30 of their closest friends. Being a Certified Sommelier with the Master Court of Sommeliers, she was able to lead them through a full Pepper Bridge Winery tasting lineup while giving the guests the basics of not only our winemaking process and history, but also a general background on Bordeaux and American winemaking processes. A similar event may be your perfect opportunity to gather friends or reward employees, all while enjoying the best of what we have to offer. Club members will receive a room-rental discount as well as an extension of their 20% club discount to each attendee of the event. This has proven to be a fun success for all involved! Contact Jennifer at 425-483-7026 or for additional information.

IMG_1298Exploring the Origin of our Corks
By: Jean-François Pellet, Partner & Winemaker

In July, I was very fortunate to travel to Portugal and learn in depth about the cork industry. An interesting fact about this natural raw material is that cork is everywhere: in automobiles, flooring, insulation, badminton rackets, rocket ships, wind machines, wine stoppers and many, many more applications.  

We started our tour by visiting the forest during harvest. What an amazing experience ? and if we, the wine geeks ? think that we have a IMG_1501lot of patience, then cork producers are saints!  It takes 25 years for a tree to produce its first harvest, and then the bark can be removed only every nine years.  Furthermore, the first two harvests do not produce cork good enough for any wine stopper application, so you are talking about 43 years before the first cork can be made.  The average life span of a tree is around 200 years.

Portugal has the largest cork forest in the world with more than 1,750,000 acres and produces more than 50% of the raw cork material available worldwide. The cork industry went through some very difficult times with cork taint issues often called TCA or 2,4,6-Trichloroanisole. This naturally occurring compound is harmless to humans but spoils the flavor and aromas of wine, creating what we know as "corked" wine. In the past, the industry believed up to 2% of all corks were tainted, and many wine writers commented that their measurement was more in the 3-5% range. As tolerance for these defects began to wane, and alternative closures (screw cap, conglomerate and plastic corks) emerged, the cork industry was forced to wake up.

We spent three days in the production facilities to understand all the steps now taken to eliminate TCA issues and to learn about the grading. The TCA-reduction procedures are very elaborate starting in the forest.  They do not harvest the first 12 inches from the bottom of the trees (as that area is more likely to be contaminated), they store the bark on a hard and well-draining surface, and they totally forbid the use of chlorine (which promotes TCA).  Furthermore, they use a steaming process to help remove TCA and flatten the bark.  They also conduct many tests for TCA at all stages of the process.

The grading, which is an extremely important stage of the process because it determines the korken-verkorkenprofitability of their operation, is all done visually by humans. Everything graded non-useable for cork stoppers is ground up for different applications. The grading starts as soon as the bark arrives at the production facilities, and the material is inspected more than 10 times before the final product is packed into bales, each containing 5,000 corks, to then be shipped. Only 15% of this raw material will be good enough for the wine industry.  Probably less than 2% is suitable for Pepper Bridge Winery's quality standards.

Natural corks range in price from $.15 to $2.50 a piece, depending on quality level.  It is an amazing natural product because although it gets compressed during bottling, it has the memory to expand again and seal.   Furthermore, cork is currently the only truly sustainable closure available, which fits our winery philosophy. This visit to Portugal reaffirmed my belief that corks are the right closure for the wines I make. The research and development being done at every level of this industry for the last 10 years has been tremendous and continues to progress. 

new releases

2010 Trine

Bright notes of blackberry and black cherry intertwine with masculine elements of aged leather and freshly tilled earth. The dark fruits carry over to the palate with a mouthwatering acidity which ripples into notes of plums, cocoa, coffee, and mixed peppercorns. Soft and structured, this wine's rich tannins and minerality melt from the midpalate into lingering notes of violets and vanilla essence.
- Jean-François Pellet, Winemaker


70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 5% Malbec, 5% Petit Verdot
68% Seven Hills, 20% Pepper Bridge, 12% Octave
100% Walla Walla Valley
Oak Program:
18 months in 100% French oak; 60% used, 40% new
Price Per Bottle:
$65/750 mL
Click here to purchase.

2011 Merlot

Our 2011 Merlot is rich, round, and intricately layered. An earthy bouquet of cherry and wild berries  dances on the nose of this wine, backed by a floral summer breeze. Hints of violets, roasted coffee, spices and mineral weave through the palate. This wine is elegant with a firmly sculpted framework of acid and polished tannins which evoke a long and harmonious finish.
- Jean-François Pellet, Winemaker

76% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Franc, 8% Malbec
86% Seven Hills, 14% Octave
100% Walla Walla Valley
Oak Program:
17 months in 100% French oak; 62% used, 38% new
Price Per Bottle:
$50/750mL | $100/1.5L | $200/3L | $400/6L
Click here to purchase.

If you love our wines, please consider joining our Bridge Club.
Click here for more information on all the great benefits our Bridge Club Members receive!


22nd: Both tasting rooms CLOSED for Thanksgiving

4th: Gourmet Wednesday with the Fat Duck Inn
5th: Winemaker Dinner with the Goff's at PLONK! in Missoula, MT
6th-8th: Holiday Barrel Weekend in Walla Walla!
8th: Bridge Club Pick up Party (Woodinville Tasting Room)
25th: Both tasting rooms CLOSED for Christmas


Three samples included in the$10 tasting fee (refundable with wine purchase)
Tours By Appointment
Call for reservations and pricing
Contact Us
(509) 525-6502

PEPPER BRIDGE WINERY | 3796 Peppers Bridge Rd.   Walla Walla WA 99362 
Facebook | Twitter