The winery’s scenic facility is well worth a visit during Walla Walla’s Spring Release Weekend.
WATERBROOK WINERY is one of the oldest in the Walla Walla Valley, started by Eric Rindal in 1984 — a time when the wine industry barely existed here. In fact, you could visit all four wineries on a Saturday morning.
Today, Walla Walla is a much different scene, with more than 100 tasting rooms, from grand châteaux to humble “shack”-teaux dotting the landscape. Those who make the trek across Snoqualmie Pass each May for Walla Walla’s Spring Release Weekend (known as “Leonetti Weekend” to fans of Walla Walla’s original winery, it’s held May 4-6 this year) have much more to choose from and must make more detailed and extensive plans about which wineries to experience — and even in which end of town to spend their precious time and dollars.
Waterbrook has been a constant for Walla Walla wine fans, thanks to consistent winemaking and friendly pricing. In 2006, Rindal sold the winery to Seattle-based Precept Wine, now the second-largest producer in the state. At the time, Waterbrook’s working winery was on the outskirts of town, with a nice tasting room in the heart of downtown.
Three to try from Waterbrook
Waterbrook Winery 2016 Sangiovese Rosé, Columbia Valley, $12: Aromas of watermelon, pink grapefruit and juicy pear lead to bright flavors of raspberry, cherry, fresh apple and a long finish. Bursting with summer flavors.
Waterbrook Winery 2014 Reserve Malbec, Columbia Valley, $23: Aromas of roasted plum, blueberry, dark chocolate and ripe black cherry are followed by flavors of blackberry, cola, plum and marionberry syrup, all backed by bright acidity.
Waterbrook Winery 2014 Icon Petite Sirah, Walla Walla Valley, $34: Brooding aromas of dark plum, dark chocolate and blackstrap molasses are followed by intense flavors of ripe dark fruit, chocolate and a whisper of alder smoke. Assertive tannins back it all up. A red wine for roasted meats or aging in your cellar for a few years. Available only in the tasting room.
Soon after, Precept broke ground on a brand-new facility along Highway 12, not far from such luminary producers as L’Ecole No. 41 and Woodward Canyon. The 53,000-square-foot facility opened in 2008, along with its spacious 5,000-square-foot tasting room. The scenic estate includes a full-service, farm-to-table kitchen and beautiful grounds that are fun to wander with a glass of wine in hand.
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In the cellar, Napa Valley native John Freeman runs the 100,000-case winery. He was integral in its design, built to accommodate the fast-growing winery as well as a company with aspirations for the future of Washington wines.
In 2009, Precept planted Waterbrook’s estate vineyard northeast of town, not far from the tiny community of Waitsburg. These grapes feed into Waterbrook’s three tiers, with the high-end Icon tier available only in the tasting room.
If you are planning a visit to the Walla Walla Valley, you owe it to yourself to leave time for a visit to Waterbrook. Not going east soon? Waterbrook wines are broadly distributed throughout the Puget Sound region.