Part two of our tour with Force Majeure takes us to the top of some serious uninhabited land in an area called North Fork. The area is named North Fork because the “North Fork of the Walla Walla River runs along the bottom of the canyon.” Since our large coach bus can’t make it up the winding, bumpy road the driver has to park. We are loaded into various 4-wheel drive jeeps and trucks. I am lucky enough to make it into the front seat of Paul’s truck. As we chat on the way up the road, we pass by homes and some cool, old buildings.

On the way to North Fork

Almost to the top!

This place is stunningly beautiful. We are around 1900-2000 feet in elevation (the highest elevation in Walla Walla). I can just imagine what it must look like in the summertime and early spring. Everything green and lush. The land is home to elks, cougars (the actual animals, lol), wolf packs, bears and moose. Thank goodness we did not see any animals while there but I was close enough to a truck just in case. Soon the animals will be sharing this space with vines, grapes and sometimes humans. I keep trying to imagine what it will look like. Right now, it’s just open space and random wild rose bushes. These rose bushes are actually a great sign. Roses and grapes are susceptible to the same diseases, so it’s a wonderful opportunity to watch how the roses grow and thrive up here. The plan for the new vineyard is to dry farm using irrigation. Dry farm is simply hoping that Mother Nature will do her thing. But they will use a water system if/when necessary.

How beautiful!
Geologist Kevin Pogue talks about the land
Random Wild Rose Bush
Winemaker Todd Alexander talks grapes

Out of the 100 acres, half will be used for grapes and the rest will be left in its natural state. The plan is to plant Syrah, Pinot, Cabernet and Chardonnay (on 50% slope). According to Todd, this is “all unknown territory.” If this works, you will definitely hear about it in the wine world. I guarantee it! It will be many years from now but I can’t wait to see the finished product.

At this point, I’m ready to taste the wine of Force Majeure and SJR Vineyard. The coach bus takes us to a beautiful red barn (yikes, I can’t remember the name of the barn) where a tasty buffet lunch by Andrae’s Kitchen awaits us.

The wine aftermath

Part of the yummy buffet by Andrae’s Kitchen

The bread and rice were delicious! Yay carbs!!

Tasty chocolate desserts

If you ever have the chance to taste Force Majeure’s Syrah (Red Mountain AVA) and SJR Vineyard’s Syrah (Rocks District AVA) side by side, you will definitely taste the difference in the AVAs. Terroir is a real thing and it’s amazing! I will be honest and say my favorite was the 2015 Estate Tempranillo. I tried to drink a glass with lunch but realized we had more tasting to do back at the hotel (sip and spit my friends, it’s the only way to make it through the Wine Bloggers Conference).

2015 Estate Tempranillo (on the left)

All the wine we tasted will be available early 2019 and trust me, it’s worth the wait.

1. 2016 Parvata Estate GSM Blend – a delicious blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre

2. 2016 Estate Syrah – 100% Syrah, native yeast, 16% whole cluster, mostly grown in Red Mountain AVA

3. 2016 Epinette Estate Merlot/Cabernet Franc Blend – 80% French oak, fermented in concrete and stainless steel, small percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot

4. 2015 Estate Tempranillo – smoky, savory, but elegant; planted on the rocky edge of the hill, my favorite (a beautiful wine)

5. 2016 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon – dried herbs and floral notes, beautiful color, 85% French oak, fermented in stainless, concrete and oak vats

6. 2016 SJR Vineyard Syrah – 100% Syrah from the Rocks District AVA, smoked meats, black olive, juicy, a glass of delicious goodness

7. 2017 Viognier – a nice, bright expression of Viognier