Friday, May 04, 2012

Spring Release Weekend: Canoe and Chocolate

What on earth would chocolate and a canoe have in common, especially this Spring Release Weekend in Walla Walla?  Two wineries opening up for business under the same ownership! One winery is a brand new concept and the other has been one of the Walla Walla originals since 1989. 

In 2010, Canoe Ridge Winery unfortunately closed the doors under their previous ownership, Diageo, a large international spirits and wine company. In the mean time the building has remained quiet - - until now! Precept Wine Brands has purchased the business and will be opened this weekend to the public. The old historic building has under gone some updates in the tasting room since the former winery, including new furnishings for the patio. A new team of winemakers will  lead the production; Bill Murray, winemaker and assistant winemaker Matt Oakley.

The old building that housed the winery tasting room and cellar originally served as Walla Walla's streetcar and train warehouse.  (Yes - - Walla Walla really did have streetcars!) In the early 1900's the train system traveled a 26-mile trek between the Washington/Oregon borders of Walla Walla and it's neighboring town, Milton-Freewater on the Oregon side. By the mid-century the shuttle carried agriculture freight. In 1989, Canoe Ridge not only planted grapes on its estate vineyard in the Columbia Valley, but restored the old brick Cherry Street Engine House and it was later listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It will be great to see that old Walla Walla asset alive again with visitors. 

Now from the serious to the sweet ...

If you have visited Walla Walla in the last couple of years, you may remember on the "plaza" of First and Main Streets,  Precept Wine Brand's "Walla Walla Wine Works."  If you can really remember "back when," it was also the former tasting room of Waterbrook Winery until they moved to their new and current location on Highway 12 by Lowden. So one more time that little brick nook has done a transformation, and a rather decandent one, at that. 

In 2011, Precept Wine Brands released a new line-up of flavored wines called "The Chocolate Shop" featuring chocolate infused Bordeaux-style red blend, including flavors of Chocolate Strawberry, Creme de Cocoa wines and "Box of Chocolate." Yup, you got it - chocolate boxed wine. These chocolate wines have not only become so popular with chocolate lovers everywhere, but also received accolades from the Wine Spectator magazine and television's NBC Today Show.   

After selling over a million bottles of the sweet confectionary wine in the US as well internationally, Precept Wine Brands knew what needed to be done - - create "Pure Heaven"  for chocolate lovers.

So the former Walla Walla Wine Works tasting room has been remodeled with rich colors of brown, gold gilding and crystal chandeliers and now The Chocolate Shop is opened and ready for the Spring Release Weekend.  The Chocolate Shop - "Purveyor of All Things Chocolate" - will be a destination downtown tasting room that will stand out from other traditional Walla Walla tasting rooms. The shop will also offer artisanal chocolates, "chocolate" monogramed t-shirts and other novelty apparel, and of course their popular chocolate wines! The newly rich decorated tasting room will also be used as an ultimate escape for birthday parties, bridal showers and community gatherings.

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