[review] Walla Walla, Washington is a special place. Somewhere near the crossroads of textbook terroir and superior craftsmanship sits an approachable, welcoming valley unlike any other. It may not be as famous as Napa or Rhone, which is even better…this place is a well-kept secret and we’d like to keep it that way. The land demands patience, commands respect and keeps a little bit of magic in every handful of soil and stone. The friendly Walla Walla Valley has often been called “the next Napa Valley,” and for good reason. This is a place where winemakers from around the world are coming to start the next generation of legendary wineries.

Bergevin Lane Winery is one of those special places. Established in 2002 by two friends pursuing a shared dream, Bergevin Lane Winery nurtures wines that embody the truly unique environment of Walla Walla, Columbia and Yakima Valleys and the distinct single vineyards from where the rich terrestrial wines come from.

The vines at the Bergevin Lane Vineyard in Walla Walla almost ready for harvest

The vines at the Bergevin Lane Vineyard in Walla Walla almost ready for harvest

The Bergevin Lane vision is to create wines with elegance and style that reflect the unique terroir attributes of Washington State and maintain the integrity of each varietal characteristic. It’s an ambitious goal that has been consistently rewarded with high scores, critical praise, and a passionate growing group of wine club members…called “Swirlies.”

We had a chance to chat with co-founder Annette Bergevin and winemaker Dave Harvey about the secret behind their elixir. “The secret to our success is really pretty simple,” Annette says. “We are making wines we love, and are proud to share. It started with three folks who love wine, family and had an incredible opportunity to start a winery.”

The tasting room at the Bergevin Lane Vineyards

The tasting room at the Bergevin Lane Vineyards

We started tasting a few fabulous bottles and asked Annette what separates them from other vineyards in Walla Walla and around the world. “We believe it’s our collective experience.  We have a team of folks who have been in the agricultural world for three generations and the viticulture area for over 30 years and our winemaker has been making wines in Washington State for over 20 years.  We’re women managed and we are a pretty lean operation, meaning a small yet highly efficient team.  Our vineyard land has been in the family since the early 1900’s.  You could say we have deep roots in this valley!”

We started chatting with Dave about the key to aging wine and his thoughts on the matter – he told us, “Aging wine is one of the more fascinating things you can do with a bottle of wine – both good and bad (meaning aging past a wine’s prime).  We make a variety of wines with aging first and foremost in our thought process.  We make our wines in approximately three tiers with our first tier wine that is meant to get better with time, we also make our 2nd tier of wines that are meant to lay down or drink decanted.  We also make an “enjoy now” bottle of wine.”

He added, “Is there ever the most correct time to open a bottle?  Both Amber and I believe that the most correct time to open a bottle is when you feel like it!  Unless you are a collector, we believe wine is to be enjoyed.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring!  Our caveat is that the connoisseur has ensured the wine has had sufficient bottle age for drinking.  Enjoy that bottle, we’ll make more!” Our thoughts exactly.

The vineyard pup keeping an eye on the vines as they mature for harvest

The vineyard pup keeping an eye on the vines as they mature for harvest

Balance is the biggest key here at the vineyard – balance and finesse.  Great bottles of wine don’t have to shout at you, they grow on your palate.  They should elicit conversation and thought.  That shows in every single sip of the 2008 Intuition Reserve Columbia Valley we had the pleasure of tasting. It’s an extremely rich and luscious wine with enormous depth loaded with blackberries, black currant, spice, minerals, earth and smoke. Lavender, blueberries and perfume weaves in when swirled. It’s very serious structure with young fine grained tannin make way for a well balanced, deep-layered and never-ending mouth feel. This is a full throttled wine with enough restraint to last for decades! It’s broad and fleshy but at the same time very tightly wound as it rolls and rolls through the mouth. As Dave said, “The best even has yet to come here and there is no doubt that this is the finest version of this wine we have ever produced!”

Walla Walla is being called the next Napa Valley

Bergevin Lane Vineyards in Walla Walla, Washington

Even with savoring every sip the bottle was soon gone and so only the memory remained. Dave and Annette both took a moment to reflect what inspires them most in this poetic oversaturated industry full of passionate romantics and scientific vintners. “Most often we drink a great bottle and we continue our conversation.  The memorable moments for us are those bottles that stop the conversation, that make you go back to your glass and take a moment to bask in the aromatics of the wine and then draw in that next sip.  When all you can think about is the wine in your mouth and that wow moment.”