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All podcast music: “Café connection” by morgantj / CC BY 3.0, ©2009 – Licensed under Creative Commons 
Attribution (3.0) 

Sep 16, 2019

Eric McKibben grew up in Walla Walla, where his dad, Norm, is a founding father of the most important side of Walla Walla – the vineyard side. Norm is known to have helped grow the Walla Walla industry from a few dozen acres in 1989 to 2800 today, around the idea of impeccable quality in the vineyard.

The business is truly a family business. Norm is still involved but Eric is a partner. Eric worked for 11 years in Seattle in the telecom industry, earned an MBA and then returned to Walla Walla in 2003, where he is an active partner at Amavi Cellars and Pepper Bridge Winery. In 2004, he assumed the duty of General Manager at Amavi Cellars.

He also taught me pretty much everything I know about Walla Walla and is one of the best advocates for the region there is! If you get a chance to try these wines, you should do it -- they are pure Walla Walla and purely excellent! 

Here are the show notes:


  • Eric tells us about the Missoula Floods and why Walla Walla is such a unique growing region, unlike any other in the world. If you want to see a cool PBS documentary on the Missoula Floods, here it is


  • We learn about the early days of Walla Walla -- what was here, how grapes supplanted apples, and who the early players were and what they accomplished. We talk about Jean-Francois Pellet, winemaker and partner for both Pepper Bridge and Amavi, and why he was such a believer in this region when he came from Heitz in Napa for a job interview with Amavi and Pepper Bridge. 


  • We discuss the "bowl" valley that is Walla Walla, the soil types and and the styles that different parts of Walla Walla yield. We do a bit of compare and contrast on Napa v Walla Walla styles



  • Then we spend time dorking out about the flavors that you'll find in Walla Walla -- Syrahs that taste plush, some that taste like licking rocks. Cabernet that expresses terroir without being too full or rich. Semillon that has beautiful acidity. All of these things and how they are achieved. 


  • Finally we dip into the thorny question of why so
    many wineries are based in Walla Walla that don't make any wines from Walla Walla fruit only (they blend it with things from other part of Columbia Valley) and what that means for the AVA from a marketing and reputational standpoint. 


Amavi and Pepper Bridge will be at this year's Underground Wine Event in Washington DC. For tickets, go to 






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