Dusted Valley Wines
Avalon's VP of Marketing and Sales, Marcus Looze, is a Wisconsin native, and when fellow Wisconsinites Chad Johnson and Corey Braunel came to visit the Avalon store last year, an immediate bond formed.
The big red wines of Dusted Valley, as well as the rich, lush Viognier white produced last year, are favorites of Avalon employees and customers. With names for their wines like "Stomp" and "Barrel Thief", Chad and Corey show their sense of whimsy and good humor. Along with fun names, they make big, crowd pleasing wines at value prices. To grow and succeed in the wildly competitive Walla Walla Valley, you need a steady source of excellent grapes. With their purchase of a vineyard in Walla Walla, Chad and Corey solidify their position as promising newcomers, and Dusted Valley as a winery to watch.
More About Dusted Valley Vintners
Purchase of Sconni Block Vineyard
Chad Johnson and Corey Braunel, owner-winemakers of Dusted Valley Vintners have purchased 11 acres of prime vineyard property just north of the Washington-Oregon Stateline in the Walla Walla Valley AVA. Vineyards nearby include Pepper Bridge, La Tour, Va Piano, and Berghan Vineyards.
“As the Walla Walla Valley’s reputation as a world-class growing region continues to gain momentum, the availability of vineyard property becomes more challenging to find,” says Braunel. “We have always intended to develop an estate vineyard program for Dusted Valley Vintners. We were very pleased when this excellent vineyard became available."
Previously known as Bradenview Vineyard, Sconni Block Vineyard (pronounced SKAH-nee ) was originally planted in 2000. The name acknowledges the winemakers' Wisconsin roots. "Sconni" Block— as in wi-SCON-sin —pays tribute to Johnson and Braunel’s roots.
Of the 11 acres of Sconni Block Vineyard, 4 acres are planted in Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Development of an additional 4 acres will commence this spring, with additional varieties to be planted including Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc. Though not certified, the vineyard is currently farmed organically. Johnson and Braunel intend to continue these efforts and go one step further by seeking organic certification, becoming the first Walla Walla Valley vineyard to be certified organic. Dusted Valley Vineyards is already a member of the Walla Walla Valley ’s sustainable growing organization, Vinea: Winegrowers Sustainable Trust. (Visit www.vineatrust.org for more information.)
Johnson adds, “We are very eager to continue the tradition of sustainable stewardship of this site. The naturally low yields off these vines—usually about 1.5 tons per acre—and the great flavor profiles they produce will be the inspiration for a new addition to our line up of premium wines. The fruit off this vineyard will become our 100% Walla Walla Valley Estate blend.”
Wisconsin Heritage Means Wisconsin Oak Barrels
Dusted Valley Vintners will be taking their Wisconsin heritage a step further as they begin a partnership with a well-known American cooperage.
“This year, we will begin production of 100% Wisconsin oak barrels from trees grown on our family land, along the banks of the Rib River , a tributary to the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers.” asserts Braunel. “We hope to be using these Wisconsin oak barrels in our estate program by 2008 with the first wines being released in 2010.” The idea started when the pair was working with barrels made of Minnesota oak. “We liked the larger sweet spot in the mid-palate. It’s a tremendous component to blend with,” explained Johnson. “With Corey’s family owning a sawmill on the same property that would provide the Wisconsin oak, we felt it was too great of a way to connect our passion for wine with our proud agricultural heritage!”