JUSTIN WYLIE - OWNER/WINEMAKER, VA PIANO VINEYARDS
The inspiration for a Tuscan-themed winery and tasting room came about after owner/winemaker Justin Wylie spent his senior year at Gonzaga University studying in Florence, Italy. He fell in love with the art, rustic architecture, culture, history, and warm hospitality he encountered there. Upon his return to the Walla Walla Valley (Justin is a fourth-generation native), his passion for wine making (and wine!) soon matched his passion for Tuscany and the seeds for Va Piano Vineyards were planted.
The Va Piano Vineyards winery and tasting room share a custom built 7,500 square foot facility built in Tuscan style: timber beamed ceilings, wrought iron railings, clay tile roof, traditional earthen stucco, eight-foot-tall distressed alder doors, and tumbled granite door and window accents create a timeless impression of quality. Va Piano Vineyards is inspired by Tuscany, but the wine is quintessential Walla Walla. Take your time, enjoy yourself, and participate fully in the beautiful journey.
TIMOTHY MILOS – WINEMAKER, HIDDEN RIDGE VINEYARD
Surrounded by gnarled oak and Manzanita forests on the south and western slopes of Spring Mountain in the Mayacamas mountain range, Hidden Ridge Vineyard is so remote it can be reached only by heavy-duty four-wheel-drive vehicles, by foot, or by helicopter. The 55-acre vineyard was developed and planted by husband and wife team Casidy Ward and Lynn Hofacket to grow stellar mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. Made by winemaking team Marco DiGiulio and Timothy Milos at Bin to Bottle in Napa, efforts in the vineyard and the cellar have produced a $40 Cabernet Sauvignon that sings loudly—yodels, even—of its mountainous origins on slopes as steep as 55%.
When Oklahoma natives and entrepreneurs Casidy Ward and Lynn Hofacket purchased the Hidden Ridge Vineyard property in 1991, they envisioned the former site of a private hunting club as the perfect location for a home in the country, truly away from it all. What they didn’t realize, however, was just how difficult it would be to develop such a rural property for residential use. Ultimately, it proved a better home for grapes than for people, and they found that their Cabernet Sauvignon thrived on the otherwise inhospitable mountain slopes at elevations ranging from 900 to 1700 feet. After six years of developing and planting the vineyard themselves, Hofacket and Ward began selling fruit in 2000, though due to the vineyard’s remote location in Sonoma County, and just outside coveted AVA status, winemakers in the Napa Valley could only take limited amounts of fruit. The couple decided to build the vineyard’s reputation by bottling some of the wine for themselves, and Hidden Ridge Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon was born, beginning with a small, “experimental” batch in 2001. Production is now up to 5000 cases, with Ward and Hofacket keeping most of the fruit for the Hidden Ridge Vineyard label.
The soils of Hidden Ridge are Sonoma Volcanic Shales (volcanic basalt) and sandy clay loam, with an average depth of about 20 to 25 feet before hitting the bedrock; this is a very well-drained vineyard. These soils contribute to the tannin structure of the fruit. The vineyard is planted to 54 acres of Cabernet clones 337, 4, 7, 169, and one acre of Petit Verdot. The vineyard is divided into 21 blocks in three areas, which carry the names of each section’s geological description: Ancient Slide, Twin Cinder Cone, and Uplifted River Bed. Hofacket designed the terraces with inside and outside rows for maximum density (1,000 vines planted per acre). The terraces have less than 5% grade each, and follow the natural shape of the mountain for optimum sun orientation. Temperatures range from 55-degrees at night to 85-degrees during the day.