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Pepper Bridge Winery
by
Terry Sullivan

Pepper Bridge WinerySummary: Visit Pepper Bridge Winery for a wine country experience. Both the winery and vineyards are certified sustainable. Great views of the vineyard from the tasting room and deck provide photo opportunities.

The name Pepper Bridge referred to a military route connecting Fort Walla Walla to the army post at the Dalles in Oregon. It was in 1991 that Managing Partner Norm McKibben planted ten acres of grapes on the Pepper Bridge site. Over the next few years the vineyard was expanded and the Seven Hills Vineyard was acquired. With the help of winemaker Jean-François Pellet, the first vintage was crafted in 1998.

Vineyards

The approach to Pepper Bridge Winery takes one on winding roads through rows of vineyards. At one turn, notice names of Vine Club members on vines. The Vine Club is for people interested in learning about the vineyards.

The Pepper Bridge Vineyard covers nearly 200 acres of rolling hills at 850 feet feet in elevations. Another 200-acre vineyard lies about ten miles to the south. Seven Hills Vineyard is on the edge of the Walla Walla AVA and ranges up to a 1400 foot elevation. In the vineyards, vines include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Malbec. The vineyards are certified sustainable by the IOBC (International Organization for Biological Control) and Oregon Live (Low Input Viticulture and Enology). The vineyards are also certified Salmon Safe. In addition Pepper Bridge is a member of VINEA, a voluntary group of winegrowers that embrace economic, environment and social sustainability.

Pepper Bridge Winery     Pepper Bridge Winery

Winery

The winery is certified sustainable. Visitors will note the cleanliness of the tank room and barrel room. The winery uses a gravity flow system that eliminates the harsh pumping of grapes and wine. Stainless steel tanks line the sides of the tank rooms. Two long, temperature/humidity controlled rooms age wine in barrels stacked three high. A carbon dioxide monitor can trigger the opening of windows and operating fans if the levels carbon dioxide become too high. Water used in the winery is reclaimed and used in the vineyards.

The winemaker uses two sorting tables to remove MOG (materials other than grapes) and smaller items such as jacks prior to fermentation. The winery likes to experiment to continually increase the quality of wines. With the 2010 harvest, they plan to field test an optical sorting table that should remove jacks.

Pepper Bridge produces 5,000 cases of wine. It also sells grapes to other wineries.

Pepper Bridge Winery     Pepper Bridge Winery

Pepper Bridge WineryTasting Room and Wines

The tasting room has plenty of light from windows overlooking the vineyards. Wood floors and ceiling together with soft Tuscan yellow walls add to the ambiance. Several people can taste wines at the counter and a long table provides additional seating for wine enthusiasts.

Pepper Bridge WineryThe 2007 Merlot was blended with mostly Merlot and small amounts of Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. It was a dark purple with a ruby rim. It offered raspberries and plums with spice nuances on the aroma and taste. The crisp finish had light tannins and was fruity. The 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, a blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with small amounts of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot was a dark purple with purple rim. The aroma was of black fruit especially blackberries. The taste offered blackberries and black cherry nuances. There were bold tannins on the finish and the aftertaste was fruity yielding to spice. The 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon was a blend predominantly of Cabernet Sauvignon with small amounts of Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The fruit came from both estate vineyards. It was a dark purple with a slight sienna hue. Black fruit especially blackberries and black cherries were on the aroma and taste. There were bold tannins on the fruity finish. Black cherries and blackberries yielded to mineral on the aftertaste.

Pepper Bridge Winery is a place that one should slow down and take their time. Sit on the deck outside the tasting room and take in the vineyards. Taste wines crafted by a sustainable vineyard and winery dedicated to producing the best wines to showcase the Pepper Bridge Vineyard and Seven Hills Vineyard.

Pepper Bridge Winery
1704 J. B. George Rd.
Walla Walla, Washington 99362

GPS: N46º 00.772’ W118º 22.251’

 


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