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Reininger Winery
by
Terry Sullivan

Reininger WinerySummary: Chuck and Tracy Reininger created a winery to showcase the potential of world class wines that can be made with grapes grown in the Walla Walla AVA. The comfortable tasting room offers a pleasant environment for tasting the Reininger and Helix brand wines.

Chuck and Tracy were both working in Seattle when Tracy decided that it was time to move back to her hometown Walla Walla. Previously Chuck visited the area often with Tracy and followed her to Walla Walla where they were married. Chuck had some interest in making beer and took courses at UC Davis. Trying his hand at home winemaking, Chuck discovered that for him making wine was both gratifying and spiritual. In 1997 Chuck and Tracy established Reininger Winery, the tenth bonded winery in Walla Walla.

The first winery location was at the Walla Walla airport where Chuck and Tracy did all the work. Their first year, the winery produced 600 cases. A few years later in 2003, Tracy's brothers, Kelly and Jay joined the team when the winery was moved to its present location. Two potato sheds were converted into the winery and tasting room. A connection between the two sheds was built. The present tasting room was completed in 2009.

Reininger WineryTasting Room

The large tasting area offers visitors a relaxing respite. Comfortable seating in one corner makes a good area to taste wines and engage in conversation. The L-shaped tasting counter reflects the Reininger’s desire to showcase wines from Walla Walla. Grapevines from Walla Walla and Columbia Valley cover the face of the base of the counter and reclaimed wood from the previous structures on the property frame the grapevines. Basalt covers the top, a fitting countertop for the Walla Walla area. Reclaimed wood also covers the floor of the tasting room area. Wine is tastefully displayed in wood showcases.

 

Reininger WineryWinery

The winery currently produces about 10,000 cases of wine under two brands. The Reininger brand is crafted with grapes sourced from Walla Walla AVA vineyards. The Helix brand is made with grapes sourced from the Columbia Valley AVA vineyards. Helix is the name of the Oregon town where Tracy’s family lived. Helix is also the genus for snails. A snail image is on the Helix wine bottle label. Hundreds of oak barrels age wine in a temperature controlled aging room. Outside the barrel room, stainless steel tanks are ready for the fall harvest. The assistant winemakers were racking the wine in barrels at the time of our visit.

Reininger WineryWines

Several wines were tasted during the day of our visit. The 2009 Helix Aspersa was a blend of Chardonnay, Viognier and Semillion. The wine offered an apple, pear and citrus aroma and taste with a crisp finish. The 2009 Helix Rosé had a red-orange color. Strawberry nuances were on the aroma and taste. The crisp, fruity finish makes this a good afternoon wine on a hot summer’s day.

The 2006 Reininger Merlot was a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. The dark red wine had an earthy aroma with spice. The dark fruit taste had tannins on the finish with fruit yielding to spices. The 2007 Reininger Cabernet Sauvignon was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. The blackberry aroma had blackberries and spices on the taste. Bold tannins were on the fruity finish. The 2006 Reininger Carmenére was a purple color. There was cedar on the aroma with black fruit and white pepper on the taste. There were tannins on the fruity finish that yielded to spices. The 2007 Reininger Syrah was a dark red-purple. There was a floral aroma with blueberry nuances. The taste was of blueberries with orange blossom hints. Bold tannins were on the finish.

Visit Reininger winery where you can taste crafted wines that showcase both the Walla Walla region and the Columbia Valley. The tasting room offers a relaxing atmosphere.

Reininger Winery
5858 W Highway 12
Walla Walla, Washington 99362

GPS: N46º 03.131’ W118º 27.589’

 


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