Share |

Walla Walla Valley AVA Turns Thirty

The Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance hosted the Walla Walla Valley AVA’s 30th Anniversary Gala at the historic Gesa Power House Theatre in downtown Walla Walla, Washington on Thursday, March 20, 2014. The Walla Walla Valley AVA was officially recognized on February 6, 1984 with four licensed wineries; today that number exceeds one hundred.


The highlight of the evening was a panel discussion featuring principals of the original wineries, Gary Figgins founder of Leonetti Cellar; Rick Small founder of Woodward Canyon; Marty Clubb, Managing Winemaker and co-owner of L ‘Ecole No 41, founded by Clubb’s in-laws, Baker and Jean Ferguson; and Eric Rindal founder of Waterbrook Winery. Two of the AVA’s most prominent pioneers, vintners Casey McClellan of Seven Hills Winery and Norm McKibben of Pepper Bridge Winery, and John Freeman, winemaker at Waterbrook, rounded out the panel, which was moderated by wine journalist Andy Perdue.


The Walla Walla Valley AVA was recently honored in the U.S. Senate when Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Patty Murray (D-W) introduced a resolution celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Walla Walla Valley American Viticulture Area (AVA). The resolution recognizes the Walla Walla Valley AVA as a “pioneer in the wine industry of Washington . . . considered one of the most awarded and recognized of the American Viticulture Areas in the United States.”


Additional honors were bestowed on Walla Walla Valley when U.S. Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) spoke on the House floor in February 2014 to recognize the 30th anniversary of the federal designation of the Walla Walla Valley AVA. “Over the past 30 years, the Walla Walla Valley has earned national and international recognition for being one of the best wine regions in the world . . .”, the Congresswoman said. “ . . . congratulations on 30 exceptional years, and best wishes for many, many more to come.”


Duane Wollmuth, Executive Director of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance stated, “We’re thrilled that Rep. McMorris Rodgers, along with Senators Cantwell and Murray, officially recognized the historic and economic impacts that our wine industry has had on the Walla Walla Valley and the State of Washington. The first 30 years were so fantastic, and we can’t wait to see what the future has in store.”


L-R: Norm McKibben, John Freeman, Gary Figgins, Rick Small, Marty Clubb, Eric Rindal, Casey McClellan.


The Walla Walla Valley AVA, composed of over 322,000 acres, spans two states, Washington and Oregon, with 69% of this acreage located in Washington, the balance in Oregon. There are approximately 1,800 acres currently planted to wine grapes in the AVA, with an additional 1,800 acres of vineyards in the planning stages.


The Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance is a non-profit wine industry membership organization whose primary mission is the marketing of the Walla Walla Valley’s American Viticulture Area (AVA). The Wine Alliance functions as the leading information resource for consumers, media, and trade interested in learning more about the Valley’s wine industry.


Duane Wollmuth, Executive Director
Heather Bradshaw, Communications and Marketing Manager


Photos Credit: Richard Duval Images