Marking Pepper Bridge’s 20 years of winemaking in the Walla Walla Valley, vintage 2017 is officially afoot among the winery’s three iconic estate vineyards: Seven Hills Vineyard, Pepper Bridge Vineyard, and Octave Vineyard.
Walla Walla, Wash. (Sept. 27, 2017) – Pepper Bridge Winery, a pioneer in the Walla Walla Valley, is pleased to announce its 20th harvest has officially begun.
Following tradition at the beginning of each harvest, Pepper Bridge Winery’s three family founders – Norm McKibben, Ray Goff, and Jean-François Pellet – marked the occasion with a Champagne toast on September 22nd. The annual toast includes the winery team and harvest crew before the sorting of the first red grapes.
“Twenty years is an incredible milestone for Pepper Bridge Winery and our Walla Walla Valley community,” says McKibben. “This is truly a momentous occasion for all of us who have worked to make this a world-class wine region.”
McKibben, one of the founding fathers of the Walla Walla wine industry, first planted five acres of Merlot and five acres of Cabernet Sauvignon in Pepper Bridge Winery’s namesake estate vineyard, which now encompasses nearly 200 acres.
As Pepper Bridge Winery grew and gained international acclaim for its Bordeaux-style wines, so has Walla Walla: In 1984, there were 40 acres of vines and four wineries. Today Walla Walla boasts more than120 wineries and roughly 3,000 acres of premier grapes.
“What we’re extremely proud of here at Pepper Bridge Winery, and we share this with our neighbors, is how hard we have worked to turn a relatively young region into one that is now synonymous with quality grape growing and winemaking,” says winemaker Pellet. “It hasn’t been easy – far from it. From the beginning, we strived to become masters of our unique terroir and had the tenacity and conviction to do things right, both in the cellar and the vineyard.”
Indeed, Pepper Bridge Winery has been one of the leading American pioneers in sustainable grape growing and winemaking by artfully marrying old-world philosophy with cutting-edge technology and sustainable practices. The three-tier gravity flow winery is built on a slope and allows the wine to ferment in barrels for aging without the use of pumps, an energy efficient and hands-off way to craft elegant wines. More than 60 percent of the winery’s energy comes from solar panels it installed in 2016. Its three estate vineyards, Pepper Bridge Vineyard, Seven Hills Vineyard, and Octave Vineyard are all farmed sustainably, utilizing compost and minimizing water usage.
What’s more, Pellet and McKibben are founding members of VINEA, Walla Walla’s sustainable viticulture program designed specifically for the region’s microclimates. These efforts, along with Pellet’s skills as a winemaker, have resulted in myriad accolades for Pepper Bridge Winery, from dozens of 90-plus scores to being named Wine & Spirits Magazine’s annual Top 100 wineries seven times.
“Two decades of vintages are simply amazing if you think what the (Walla Walla) Valley was when we began,” says McKibben. “It’s encouraging to know we and the region have come this far, and we will continue to work diligently to make sure that every year, we remain an innovative steward of this bountiful and breathtaking valley we call home.”
For more information about Pepper Bridge Winery visit www.pepperbridge.com.