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Spring Valley Vineyard

Like other vineyards, Spring Valley has a long history. Uriah Corkrum began farming in the area in the mid-1800s. A successful farmer in the 1880s, he lost it all in the 1893 depression, including a child, then his wife in childbirth. Eventually he remarried and became a pillar of the community, starting charities. His second wife was a good businesswoman. He acquired the land that is now the vineyard in 1910 and got some of his original land back. They established the modern boundaries of the land. Their second son Frederick carried on the farming tradition.

Interestingly, Walla Walla was a vice-filled spot after World War I with girls, gambling, bootleg booze. In 1928 Frederick started a wheat farm. One day he rode his horse into downtown Walla Walla to see a vaudeville show at the Liberty Theatre. He met the star attraction, Nina Lee Moore; they married and had a daughter Sharilee who still lives on the farm. Sharilee and her husband Dean Derby (they met in the 6th grade) planted the first wine grapes at Spring Valley in 1993. An economic downturn in 1992 made them realize they had to diversify. They planted 45 acres. Their son Devin moved back to Walla Walla from Chicago; he was the founding winemaker and designed the labels. Their first wine was Uriah in 1999. The 2000 Uriah was given 17th out of 100 wines on the Wine Spectator Wines of the World list. The following year it was 13th out of 100. The early success was owed to Derby; unfortunately, he died in a car accident in 2004.

Prior to his death, he met Serge Laville, a French winemaker who actually came to the U.S. as a chef. They had the same winemaking philosophy of making wine with minimal intervention, using only estate grown grapes from Spring Valley. After Derby's death, Serge became the winemaker at Spring Valley. Derby's granddaughter Katherine began working in the tasting room in 2003 and joined the winemaking team in 2011.

In 2007, 64 acres of new vineyards were planted increasing total vineyard acreage to 109 acres of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. That same year, their downtown Walla Walla tasting room opened.

Our tasting started with a 2019 100% Viognier, fermented in old barrels, and transferred to stainless steel. It has been used to blend with Syrah before.

We then went vertical age-wise:

2013 Mule Skinner 100% Merlot with a wonderful nose.

2014 Katherine Corkrum 100% Cabernet Franc, Chief Winemaker Juan Muñoz feels Cab Franc is the star of the vineyard.

2015 Uriah Red Blend, Right Bank, 43% Cab Franc, 38% Merlot, 14% Cab Sav, 3% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec.

2016 Frederick 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Syrah, 2% Malbec.

We were also treated to a 2012 Sharilee 100% Petit Verdot, fairly dark, and a 2017 Nina Lee 98% Syrah, 2% Viognier. We paired this Syrah with their chocolates made with Syrah. Nice.

As you can see, the wines are named for family members, keeping that history alive.

Photos courtesy of Spring Valley Vineyard

Spring Valley Vineyard
Tasting Room
2 E Rose Street
Walla Walla, WA 99362

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