Walla Walla Vintners Winemakers Myles Anderson and Gordon Venneri
Walla Walla Vintners -- bonded in 1995 -- is a limited-production winery dedicated to making handcrafted, premium red wines --Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot -- cellared and aged in American and French oaks. The winemakers are Myles Anderson, and Gordon Venneri. This duet produced homecrafted wines for many years before making commercial wines. The homecrafted venture permitted them to practice winemaking, take mistakes to the dump, and forge a successful partnership. Neither partner has given up his day job - this is still a hobby business. Gordon is a CPA and field agent for Knight of Columbus Insurance and Myles is a teaching psychologist at the local community college. The new winery, designed and built by Alan Jones, is located off Mill Creek Road on 17 acres near the Blue Mountains.
From the Winemakers, Myles and Gordon
As winemakers we made homecrafted wines for over ten years before we considered making commercial wines. This was all done in our backyard using borrowed, makeshift equipment and for a while a small apple press. Muscle and Phillip Wagner's wine making books were our greatest assets. Although we lacked experience, we had passion for tasting and creating quality wines and food.
Gordon had visited his family in Calabria in Southern Italy and sampled their homemade wines. He returned from the trip with a desire to make homemade wines. He and Myles began the adventure.
First, we crafted both white and red table wines. The white wines required a lot of work and equipment and were not that impressive. Later, as we gained experience and secured grapes from local growers, we focused on red wines specializing in Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.
We experimented with oak chips, used oak barrels, beer kegs, food-grade plastic buckets, plastic apple juice containers, Coca Cola syrup stainless steel containers, and glass Carboys. The yeast and chemicals came from a local drug store that specialized in stocking such items for beer and wine makers.
Eventually, we were able to purchase our first new, French Oak Barrel - a thirty galloner. Wow, what a difference quality oak made on the Cabernet Sauvignon. We were hooked! We raised the monthly ante, and bought more and larger oak barrels. We loved experimenting with wine and oak. We learned the most from our failures - over oaking wine, sour barrels, barrels with mold, unsanitized conditions, too much sulfur, over using sulfites, not using enough, etc.
Our wine improved. We made around 200 gallons of finished wine a year for home consumption and for friends. During the early days, our friends politely took the wines we gave them. Some tasted bad and some blew up in wine racks. However, they stuck with us, and as our wines got better they began to look forward to the holidays when we gave wine as gifts. They also encouraged us to consider making commercial wines.
In January, 1995, we decided to take a chance and become a bonded winery. Alan Jones, a former partner, discovered a 17 acre parcel of land for sale on Mill Creek Road near the Blue Mountains. Alan designed the winery facility and we were off and running. We made 675 cases the first year, 820 cases the second, and now we are producing 1800 cases a year. The goal is to remain small and focus on making premium, world-class wines for customers who seek out quality wines from small producers.