Va Piano Vineyards, a Walla Walla Valley-based winery, has purchased 53 unplanted acres in the south side of the valley. The winery intends to plant a vineyard at the site in 2024.
“It’s a beautiful piece of property,” says Va Piano owner and winemaker Justin Wylie. “I’ve been looking at it for about a year.”
The site is located within SeVein Vineyards at approximately 1,000 feet above sea level. There are 33 arable acres, 20 of which will be planted next year. Va Piano intends to plant five clones of Cabernet Sauvignon, two clones of Cabernet Franc, one clone of Merlot, and a clone of Sangiovese.
“I like the fact that it’s higher elevation first and foremost,” Wylie says of the site. “We don’t have to worry about the deep winter freezes. We don’t have to worry about burying canes. It’s a very consistent site year to year.”
The vineyard will be named Giovanoni in tribute to Wylie’s grandmother, who was born in Northern Italy. Due to the recent discovery of phylloxera in Walla Walla and elsewhere in Columbia Valley, the new vines will be grafted onto rootstock.
The intent of the new site is two-fold. The first is providing fruit for Va Piano’s Walla Walla Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Va Piano currently has a 20-acre, eponymous estate vineyard surrounding the winery as well as the 22-acre Octave Vineyard, a joint venture between Va Piano, Pepper Bridge, Gramercy, Caprio, and Hanatoro. Giovanoni Vineyard will be located in close proximity to Octave. Va Piano also sources fruit from Eritage Vineyard north of town, though Wylie anticipates the winery will rely less on that fruit as the new vineyard comes on-line.
“The future is in these higher elevation sites that get us off that valley floor, especially when ripening Bordeaux varietals where we just need the time to get full physiological ripeness,” he says.
SeVein is a 2,700-acre project located in the south side of the valley. The managing partners are valley founders Norm McKibben (Pepper Bridge), Gary and Chris Figgins (Figgins Family Wine Estates), Marty Clubb (L’Ecole No. 41), and Bob Rupar (Nelson Irrigation). In addition to new plantings and sales of unplanted parcels, some vineyard land within the project has recently changed hands. Sagemoor purchased Southwind Vineyard in 2021, and Valdemar purchased V2 Vineyard late last year. About 800 acres have currently been planted within SeVein, which accounts for over one quarter of Walla Walla Valley’s total planted acreage.
Va Piano has two tasting rooms, one in Walla Walla and one in Bend, Oregon. Wylie says the Bend tasting room, which is now entering its eighth year, has exceeded expectations. In addition to Va Piano wines, the tasting room offers ten champagnes as well as several domestic sparkling wines. For this reason, the location has been rebranded Va Piano Champagne and Wine Bar.
“It’s been really popular,” Wylie says. “I’ve brought in a lot of new customers that normally maybe didn’t want to drink wine but loved the idea of champagne.”