Letter - A salute to Valley’s wine-making pioneers


We appreciate your editorial coverage of the Walla Walla wineries’ contributions to the Seattle Children’s Hospital uncompensated care program (“Local wineries’ support of Seattle Children’s Hospital amazing”). It really shines a spotlight on one of the many great things the wineries have done (and continue to do) to give back to their community.

This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the formation of the federally recognized Walla Walla Valley as an American Viticultural Area.

As a winemaker here in the Valley, I often think back about what it must have been like in 1984 to start a winery in what was an afterthought (or no thought at all) in the world of wine.

The pioneering spirit certainly ran deep in Gary and Nancy Figgins, Rick and Darcey Small, Baker and Jean Ferguson, Casey and Vickie McClellen and the many others who laid the foundation for what myself and my fellow wine industry peers have tried to help build on.

And I also think about what this town would look like if the wine business were not here. We would not have the worldclass restaurants we have today, nor the nationally recognized art scene, and certainly not the accommodations like the Marcus Whitman Hotel or the many bed-and-breakfasts.

The fact is that the wine industry has given this Valley many of the things we love about Walla Walla, and has also helped to direct national attention to our wonderful downtown Main Street, which has received numerous accolades over the past few years, including best Main Street in America in Sunset Magazine.

To mark this occasion, the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance is hosting a 30th Anniversary Celebration at the Gesa Power House Theatre on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear from the Valley’s wine industry founders about how it all got started, and enjoy an evening of wine, hours d’oeurves and celebration.

This is the perfect time for the locals to learn a little more about the history of their Valley and the personalities that helped shape our wonderful region!

I know I would not be here in Walla Walla were it not for them.

Trey Busch


Sleight of Hand Cellars

Walla Walla


namvet60 1 year, 7 months ago

Wow - can that size Ego fit into a small city?


jace12 1 year, 6 months ago

I know a little about the history of this valley, and it wasn't about wine. I'll have to miss this once in a lifetime celebration. If you're thinking of what this town would look like if the wine business was not here as you have stated, you may examine your thoughts. There's a lot more going for us than just wine.


GeneandCassie 1 year, 6 months ago

Perhaps any tours could take the people on a swing down Stone and Sheridan Roads; to get a glimpse of the 'Rough Road' signs proudly standing tall.....

Then swing by the Aviary...... offer up a toast and a $$$ contribution to the birds....

Then down Main by the Pastime..... for a glimpse of the past Restaurant scene.....

End up at the Blue Mountain Mall for an end of the tour nightcap at another economic success story.....


namvet60 1 year, 6 months ago

Excellent! Maybe they could even throw in a couple million for the new Science building?


Calzaretta 1 year, 6 months ago

Please take the time to tour the science facilities at WaHi. There are patron tours being scheduled now.


chicoli 1 year, 6 months ago

All these achievements are fine and dandy. Please do not get carried away with the price of some wines which are, not necessarily terrible but decidedly mediocre and categorically ovepriced. Remember that a lot of our visitors are sophisticated conniosseurs who would spread the news of palate disapointments at their next Country Club meeting.

It is comendable to support Seattle's organizations. What about supporting Walla Walla's organizations?

Please don't corked the cork!


GeneandCassie 1 year, 6 months ago

Agree whole heartedly....

Nero fiddles while Rome burns.....

But the tourists are happily spending which is good....

A wine toast benefit for the Aviary would be a nice local touch.....

Perhaps its all a 1% and 99% affordability thing.... 'world-class' is definitely out of my Network.... but the Pastime wasn't; and the food was surely better.....


GeneandCassie 1 year, 6 months ago

Minor tour route modification- cruise down Clay Street and not Sheridan Road for the viewing second set of proud 'Rough Road' signs.....


chicoli 1 year, 6 months ago

I get the idea! Mr. Bush's letter has had an effect of skepticism in the readers. Like a glass of wine this letter has notes of unintended condescension, subconscious arrogance and decided hyperbole. I really don't know about "world class" restaurants...but certainly there are 2 or 3 that are fairly good...Walla Walla standards, of course.

This letter's optimism and bubbly effervescence is nevertheless as welcomed as a good glass of champagne in a spring sunny morning brunch. Having known good friends in this industries, one can only attest to their passion and good faith for a healthy future, in partnership with the town citizens as a whole, of course!

I noticed that Mr Norm Mcgibben, a well known passionate wine "guru" was not mentioned as the arguably most dedicated wine industry pioneer in this region.


NewInWW 1 year, 6 months ago

I guess I just haven't been here long enough to be bitter about a local industry that seems to bring nothing but positives to the Walla Walla Valley. And, yes, and number of our local restaurants would be considered excellent in any large city in the world. Pull all of the businesses supported by wine tourism out of downtown and you'll have a ghost town. Walla Walla wine industry spending in Seattle makes a great deal of sense, it's certainly got to be a principal target market.

Finally, why must we look to others to do the right thing for the high school? Aren't the kids who attend Wa-Hi part of our community who deserve our support?


namvet60 1 year, 6 months ago

The Walla Walla Wine industry is not part of the community?


chicoli 1 year, 6 months ago

Worl class restaurants are clasified base on Michelin stars, Bid Goumand or Spoon and Fork designations. None in Walla Walla reach those levels. Some Walla Walla restaurants are fairly good, though...Walla Walla standards, of course!

Target markets are best tapped by competing with other wines from other regions and achieving good ratings. Wine Spectator magazine publishes such ratings periodicaly. Walla Walla is improving through time, indeed!


GeneandCassie 1 year, 6 months ago

A link to the 'original UB Editorial' on the subject is here:

I do think a little Wine Toast Fundraiser for the Pioneer Park Aviary would be a nice event to ponder.....

Perhaps held at the Power House venue.....


downhillracer 1 year, 6 months ago

So how much have GeneandCassie ponied-up for the aviary?


GeneandCassie 1 year, 6 months ago

Well, this last year $100 (receipts readily available if you so desire); previous years perhaps $50-100 total but I'll have to search for the receipts.....

All made to the City's Round Up program on the monthly Utilities bill.

How about yourself?????


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