Walla Walla’s Newest Businesses Spotlight the Valley’s Bounty
September 14th – (WALLA WALLA, Wash.) – Walla Walla is so nice, they named it twice. Honored for the second consecutive year as America’s Best Wine Region, and boasting a flourishing farm-to-table culinary scene, this rural-chic town in central Washington has earned a reputation for continually building upon its successes as opposed to resting on its laurels. With its sweeping landscape of wheat fields, vineyards, and farmland, not to mention its health and safety-minded Peace of Mind Pledge, Walla Walla continues to delight and entice visitors with no fewer than 11 new businesses opening their doors in recent months.
Among the most notable, a new luxury winery resort, three new restaurants, three new tasting rooms, and four other businesses, including a curated grocery store, an elevated general store, an artisan showroom, and an educational hops tour.
“It gives me great joy to see these new businesses opening their doors,” Says Robert Hansen, Executive Director of Visit Walla Walla and Walla Walla Valley Wine. “The common theme running through these new businesses is a unified connection to place and community supporting the local landscape, artisans, and history that makes Walla Walla so genuinely unique.”
Following is a list of some of the notable businesses that have opened their doors in Walla Walla in recent months:
Yellowhawk Resort (formerly Basel Cellars): Yellowhawk Resort is an 84-acre hillside retreat on Walla Walla’s south side. The resort features a sparkling winery and tasting room with farm-to-table dining, a swimming pool and cabanas, lodging, and event space for weddings, reunions, and corporate retreats. As you enter the gate and wind up the hill to the estate house, the elevated setting provides a sweeping outlook on the fields of wheat, lush vineyards below, and the Blue Mountains in the distance. The property was purchased in December 2020 by Pacific Northwest hospitality leaders Dan Thiessen, Chad Mackay, Scott Clark, Philip Christofides, and Paul Mackay, and is part of the Revelers Club loyalty program. Winemaker George-Anne Robertson leads Yellowhawk’s sparkling wine program.
DINING & RESTAURANTS
AK’s Mercado: One of Walla Walla’s top eateries, Andrae’s Kitchen, which Food & Wine magazine’s Ray Isle once described as “hands down the best restaurant inside a working gas station in America,” recently relocated to its own space on Main St. in the heart of downtown Walla Walla. Focusing on tacos, smoked meats, and other street food, Mercado is inspired by Chef Andrae Bopp’s love for the cuisines of Oaxaca and New Orleans, among other places, with a craft cocktail program curated by local mixology legend Jim German. The venue also features various popups from Secret Squirrel wine, Daylight Plant Co, Walla Walla Cheese Co. and others.
The Kitchen at Abeja: Those with a taste for wine country living have yet another reason to visit Abeja, a 38-acre historic Walla Walla farmstead and home to the acclaimed Abeja winery and bucolic Inn at Abeja. The Kitchen at Abeja, which opened July 13, offers a fine dining experience showcasing innovative wine country cuisine and celebrating the Pacific Northwest’s seasonal bounty. Dinner guests choose from a five or seven-course prix fixe menu, as well as an optional wine pairing menu. Executive Chef Elodie Li, who returns to her home state after two years of cooking in Michelin two-star restaurants in Provence, France, collaborates with Abeja winemakers Dan Wampfler and Amy Alvarez-Wampfler on the menus, updated weekly. Surrounded by the winery’s vineyards and gardens, The Kitchen at Abeja is a rich, refined wine country experience.
The Kinglet at Whitehouse-Crawford (opening early 2022): Farther on the horizon is The Kinglet at Whitehouse-Crawford, a new bistro eatery in the historic Whitehouse-Crawford Planing Mill building, from acclaimed Seattle Chef Maximillian Petty. A multiple James Beard semifinalist, Petty’s menu will range from exuberantly curated items, which built his reputation at Eden Hill, to a bar and lounge area that will stay open later with a snack-heavy lineup, including a pizza oven and an extensive cocktail program.
Moonbase Cellars: The Blue Mountains and rolling wheat fields of Walla Walla enticed Laine and Drew Pauk to call the valley their home. That, and their desire to make wine with a straightforward approach amidst an ideal viticulture climate. Moonbase Cellars’ philosophy is to find fantastic vineyards suited for a specific grape variety, sourcing excellent fruit from premier vineyard sites in the Walla Walla Valley, including multiple locations within the coveted The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater AVA. As for the name, Drew has always been fascinated with space. Though his dream of becoming an astronaut didn’t work out, he managed to combine his love for wine and space with Moonbase Cellars.
Kinhaven Winery: This new family-owned small lot winery and vineyard is perched atop a picturesque knoll in the Southside winery district of Walla Walla. The property, with 8 acres of Merlot, Cabernet, Carmenere and Malbec, enjoys unobstructed views of the Blue Mountains and is the perfect setting for family and friends to connect while enjoying their thoughtfully crafted wines. Purchased in 2019 by Terry and Lisa Davenport, who also own the recently renovated Boyer House. From dining in the vines to weddings, the combination of Kinhaven Winery and Boyer House sets up for the perfect family and friend gathering.
5 Dollar Ranch Brewing: Self-proclaimed as “Walla Walla’s best new brewery in 2021,” this newcomer opened in June 2021. Located on the south side of town along the Oregon border on twelve acres of farm property, with sweeping views of the Blue Mountains. An evolving menu of hop offerings is fit to appease the novice to beer connoisseur. The location is both dog and kid-friendly. According to brewer and owner Josh Hulett, while he loves all of his beers, the Hazy’s are not to be missed.
Hoquetas Wine Company: Located at the Port of Walla Walla wine incubator facility in the Walla Walla Airport District, Hoquetas Wine Co. opened its doors in September of 2021. Started by musician turned winemaker Robert Gomez and his family, the winery focuses on producing wines that are both expressive and representative of the region’s terroir. Hoquetus, a musical method where vocal parts alternate to create a single melody, speaks to Gomez’s musical approach to winemaking, where the ingredients are carefully composed to create a melodious pour.
Runway Market: Located in the airport district of Walla Walla’s wine region, Runway Market is a sparkling wine bar serving up local bubbles. The Market serves an assortment of food options, including picnic boxes, paninis, flatbread pizza, and various other grab-and-go options. All tastings include complimentary gourmet popcorn. Cathy Bay and her husband opened Runway Market in 2021 with the hopes of being a stop for not only bubbles and food, but laughter and celebration.
SPECIALTY, ACTIVITIES & OTHER
Showroom at Colville: The Showroom on Colville was built in the 1930s as a showroom for auto sales in the center of downtown Walla Walla. In October of 2019, the Showroom on Colville underwent extensive renovations which unveiled the beautiful bones of the structure, and from there the story began to blossom. A corner of downtown Walla Walla honors local history to gather and celebrate the community with local-centric artisans and purveyors. Shops include TMACS, The Market by Andy’s, Wildlings Co. kids boutique, and many more.
Walla Walla General Store: A new home, kitchen & gift store founded by Jean Bender and Peggy Frasse. The store opened to locals & visitors alike on May 6, 2021. From small delights, such as penny cent candy to homewares from makers such as Simon Pierce, Walter G textiles, Riedel and Staub – there is something for everyone at the Walla Walla General Store. Much more than just a retail space, co-founders Jean & Peggy envision the store as a space for community. Following a successful summer Art Series, resident Allison Palmer will host a continuation of “Make for Joy” there this fall. Weekly Monday-Wednesday classes will begin in September, and continue through December.
Walla Walla Brews Cruise: Walla Walla is known for wine, but it’s also home to plentiful craft beer and cider. Alongside thousands of acres of vineyards are century-old wheat fields and orchards stretching across the valley. Generations of wheat farmers have made their home in Walla Walla and now support a growing community of brewers. Walla Walla Brews Cruise tours are knowledge-based tours where you will learn about the process of brewing beers and crafting cider, with a guided discussion of varying styles of alcohol.
Foodscape Walla Walla: Foodscape could technically be described as an online grocer, but it’s so much more. It’s a place to acquire food, talk about food, or gather meaning from food. It was started by Hannah MacDonald, a longtime chef, local, and significant influencer on the Walla Walla food scene over the past decade. Foodscape highlights the area’s bounty, from food to all the agriculture offerings: produce, meat, and seafood. They also directly import hundreds of spices from all over the world, as well as other specialty products like olive oil, seafood, and vinegar. Foodscapes give locals and visitors alike the tools that they need to cook any cuisine under the sun.
About Walla Walla:
As the unofficial capital of Washington wine country, Walla Walla is home to more than 120 wineries, a nationally recognized culinary scene, access to an abundance of outdoor recreation, and an arts & entertainment scene that rivals cities many times its size. This community of just over 30,000 residents is known for many things, including its friendliness and hospitality, the quality of its wine, and of course the famous Walla Walla Sweet Onion. An easy and scenic four-hour drive from Seattle, Portland, or Boise, Walla Walla can also be accessed via Alaska Airlines’ daily non-stop flights from Seattle. For more information and to begin planning a trip to Walla Walla, visit www.wallawalla.org.