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2014 Fall Newsletter

By Partner & Winegrower Norm McKibben
     As I complete my vineyard tour today, I am excited about the good fortune Mother Nature has provided us this year. Although 2014 has been one of the warmest growing seasons in recent years the weather is now quite temperate with highs in the 80s and lows in the 40s. The grapes thrive in this temperature pattern and are developing quite nicely.
     WSU's Prosser Research Station shows current accumulated heat units (also referred to as growing degree days) for this year at 2,687 through the 7th of September. This is compared to 2,630 at the same time last year, our previous hottest in recent history. As of this same date in 2011, which was one ofthe coolest years on record, we were at 1,750. Heat units are a measure of the heat available to the vines throughout the season. Because of the warm year, many assumed that harvest would come early in 2014. However, they left one thing unaccounted for: most varieties of grapes (Syrah not included) shut-down production of sugar to conserve water when the temperatures climb. The shut-down temperature is dependent upon the grape varietal, but is generally between 95° and 98°F. It is possible to have high heat units as we had this year, but still be slower in ripening than some previous years because the vines shut down.
     We brought in our first grapes, a couple tons of Sauvignon Blanc, from our estate Seven Hills Vineyard. It is always an exciting thing to see the first grapes arrive, and of course we celebrated with our traditional Champagne toast. Our first red grapes should come in on September 15th, at which time our optical sorter will be in full swing, welcoming the beginning of Pepper Bridge Winery's 17th harvest. I look forward to sharing the 2014 wines with you in the future!

By Partner & Winemaker
Jean-François Pellet

     In the first 15 years of producing wines at Pepper Bridge Winery, we focused solely on utilizing the beautiful red Bordeaux varietals that thrive here in the Walla Walla Valley. With the 2013 vintage we decided it was time to make an exciting addition to our portfolio: our first ever white wine, the 2013 Sauvignon Blanc. As always, preparation for this wine began in the vineyard. We chose to utilize fruit from blocks within two of our estate vineyards: Seven Hills and Les Collines. This is our first release to contain fruit grown at Les Collines Vineyard. Positioned on the east side of the valley at the base of the Blue Mountains, this 240-acre vineyard has a base of silty loam soil and a higher annual precipitation than Seven Hills and Pepper Bridge combined. It is renowned for the imparting notes of earth and mineral to the grapes grown here. We were excited to use the fantastic Sauvignon Blanc fruit it yields.
     This wine also marked the usage of a new fermentation option for us - a concrete egg. Concrete use in winemaking is something that has been done since the 19th century. The material and thickness of the vats make them quite successful in enhancing mouthfeel and minimizing temperature fluctuation as the wine develops. This, along with 20% stainless steel and 50% used French oak, produced a wine that is crisp and refreshing while still providing the texture and elegance that we strive for here at Pepper Bridge Winery.
     We introduced this wine in late spring and it disappeared quite quickly. With its citrusy aromatics and richly developed palate of tropical nuances, it proved to be an enjoyable summer wine. Watch for the release of the 2014 vintage in late spring of 2015! We hope to see you in the tasting room soon.

PB Ladies at celebrateCelebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine:
The World of Merlot

    The Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance has launched an annual event centered around a weekend's worth of celebrating one of the Walla Walla Valley's star varietals. The 2015 focus will be Merlot and we hope you can join us in the festivities, held June 18th-20th, 2015. For tickets and additional information, CLICK HERE to visit their website.


     Here at Pepper Bridge Winery, we're all about coming up with fun ideas to make your wine tasting experience more enjoyable. This summer we debuted our Summer Music Series, a monthly event featuring musical talent from across the Pacific Northwest paired with one of the valley's fantastic food trucks. Due to the popularity of this event, the Summer Music Series will return in the summer of 2015! Whether you are passing through Walla Walla or are a member of our amazing community, please make plans to join us next summer. CLICK HERE to check our website's events calendar to keep up to date with all events we will be hosting or participating in.

By Woodinville Tasting Room Manager Jennifer Clapp
    On a cloudy morning in August, the entire Woodinville staff set off on an adventure. To be more specific, we headed over to Adventura Aerial Park, located right behind Red Hook Brewery in Woodinville. We recently started a partnership with the park where participants are given special cards to visit our tasting room after they brave the heights at the park. Owner Scott Chreist was so kind to offer the package to our staff in order to better understand what they wv ropes courseoffer there. As soon as we arrived, Chris elected herself the photographer so as to remain on solid ground. The rest of us harnessed up and went through the training. Linda, Brian, and myself eventually made our way up the spider web to the first platform where Linda and I quickly figured out how extremely high off the ground we were. Brian set off immediately conquering each task with great brevity while Linda and I made sure the posts holding the course were firmly in place. After much encouragement from staff, Linda set off on a few obstacles herself, while I again made sure the posts were not going anywhere. My ongoing commentary was quite entertaining not only to the staff, but also to Chris on the ground. At one point I do believe I caught her wiping tears of laughter from her eyes. After figuring out that there was no other way down, I eventually crossed the log balance beam and was happily ziplined down to the grass. For those who seek adventure, this is the place. For those afraid of heights, perhaps a glass of Pepper Bridge beforehand would help! CLICK HERE to visit Adventura's website.

     Alyson LaVarnway moved to the Walla Walla Valley from her home state of Alaska in 2005 to attend college. She has worked in the wine industry for over five years and was most recently in charge of hospitality and the launching of the first ever wine club at Charles Smith Wine and K Vintners. She loves connecting with her customers and feels that wine is the perfect way to do so! Alyson is committed to offering an amazing customer experience and love of great wine. Her personality is a perfect complement to the family atmosphere here at Pepper Bridge Winery. She is quite excited to get to know all of you better and to share her love of our beautiful wines!
     To contact Alyson with any wine club or hospitality related questions, reach out via email at or via telephone at (509) 525-6502.


Our sweet Kim and her husband Brian welcomed their daughter into this world on July 28th, 2014. We couldn' t be more excited for their family and wish them a future filled with love and happiness.


aaron somm

National Sales Manager Aaron Smith gained membership to an exclusive club of wine geeks with the passing of his Introductory Sommelier exam on August 6th, 2014. We're so proud of your achievement.


     Vineyard designated releases showcase the uniqueness of our estate vineyards.  Seven Hills Vineyard yields a feminine side to our wines, producing finesse and elegance with a long, persistent finish. This polished and complex wine has a perfume of blackberry liqueur, red berries, earth, and mineral. On the palate, this supple wine showcases a lush texture and depth, making it an age-worthy beauty.
49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot
100% Seven Hills
Oak Program:
17 months in French oak: 39% new, 61% neutral
Price Per Bottle:
| Wine Club Exclusive |

 2012 MERLOT
     This Merlot has a terrific presence featuring deep, bright flavors of cherry, blueberry, and cassis shaded with an intriguing hint of roasted coffee, allspice, bay leaf, and graphite. Its rich layers and velvety texture satiate the palate with complex flavors of spicy ripe red and black fruits and dusty earth, wrapped around gentle tannins.
78% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 7% Malbec
51% Seven Hills Vineyard, 32% Pepper Bridge, 17% Octave
Oak Program:
100% French oak: 38% new, 62% used
Price Per Bottle:
| $50/750mL | $105/1.5L |  $315/3L | $535/6L |

We look forward to seeing you in the tasting room soon!
To view our new wine club options, CLICK HERE.
To view the hours of operation for both of our locations, CLICK HERE.
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