Pepper Bridge Winery
Pepper Bridge Winery is one of Walla Walla's premier sources for fine grapes and wine. The Walla Walla Valley is critically acclaimed for growing some of the highest quality red wine grapes, and the winery's estate vineyards, Pepper Bridge Vineyard and Seven Hills Vineyard, are recognized as two of the best in the region.
Pepper Bridge's vision to build a state-of-the-art, gravity-flow winery began several years ago when Norm McKibben, Managing Partner, planted his first grapes in the Walla Walla Valley. The vision grew into reality with the completion of Pepper Bridge Winery in September of 2000.
The owners built the winery to encompass a gravity flow system that is extremely gentle on the grapes and wine. From the crush pad on our top level to the barrels located 32’ below in the caves, the wine flows effortlessly and gently.
More About Pepper Bridge Winery
Norm McKibben - Managing Partner
After a successful career as a civil engineer and corporate president,
Norm McKibben retired in 1985 and moved to Walla Walla, Washington. However,
Norm soon recognized the great potential Walla Walla had for growing
quality wine grapes and began planting vines.
Over the next several years, Norm worked closely with Leonetti Cellars, Woodward Canyon, L’Ecole N°. 41 and Andrew Will wineries to improve farming procedures and trellising on the 191-acre Pepper Bridge farm.
Pepper Bridge Winery began taking shape in late 1999. Finished in time for the 2000 harvest, Pepper Bridge Winery will focus on the production of ultra-premium Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah.
Norm is currently managing partner and/or consultant on over 400 acres of the top vineyard sites in Walla Walla (Pepper Bridge, Seven Hills, and Les Collines), and has introduced state-of-the-art irrigation systems and soil moisture/temperature monitoring equipment. He was appointed to the Washington State Wine Commission board in 1997 and elected chairman in 1998. The Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers also honored him as “Grape Grower of the Year” in 1998.
Pepper Bridge Vineyard is one of Pepper Bridge's two estate vineyards located in the Walla Walla Appellation. The original 10 acres were planted in 1991 and have expanded to a total of 180 acres of wine grapes. Pepper Bridge Vineyard has gained an outstanding reputation with winemakers throughout the state of Washington, and especially the Walla Walla Valley.
Tom Waliser has been the Vineyard Manager at Pepper Bridge Vineyard since it’s inception in 1991. All grapes are grown on split canopy trellises, in which the vines are trained both up and down off the cordon, or grape-bearing wire. With the exception of five acres of Merlot, which is on the Scott-Henry trellis system, all grapes are on the Smart-Dyson trellis system.
The vineyard uses cutting edge technology on its irrigation and weather systems. Weather data, temperature, humidity, wind, and sun energy units, are recorded around the clock and the data is downloaded to computer by phone line. Over sixty moisture-measuring points are spread throughout the farm and moisture is data logged once an hour, 24 hours per day. The soils in this vineyard are Walla Walla Silt Loam, which is a wind-blown glacial loess that is young and full of minerals. This silt loam contains one-third sand and is very free draining.
Seven Hills Vineyard
Located just 10 miles south of Pepper Bridge Winery on the edge of the Walla Walla Appellation you’ll find Seven Hills Vineyard. The original plantings date back to 1981 and have expanded to over 200 acres of premium wine grapes.
Seven Hills Vineyard is managed by Chris Banek and is the source of fruit for many of the fine wineries in the state and valley. With the exception of five acres of Geneva Double Curtain, all grapes are grown on the Smart-Dyson split canopy trellises, in which the vines are trained both up and down off the cordon, or grape-bearing, wire. The soils in this vineyard are Ellingford Silt Loam, which is a wind-blown glacial loess that is geologically very young and full of minerals.
During the first months of each growing season irrigation is pulled from the Hudson Bay Ditch. After ditch water is shut off to protect the fish, irrigation switches to a deep basalt well, which is drilled over 1100’ through hard rock. Water is distributed from a surge pond to the grapes through both above ground and buried drip lines that can also spread required fertilization along with the water. Grapes are one of the most efficient crops in terms of water requirement and the drip system of irrigation eliminates waste water. The moisture monitoring system advises any time moisture gets below the root zone of the grapes. This allows the farm to irrigate only as much water as will be taken up by the plants and eliminates contamination of the ground water system.