We visited Walla Walla earlier this spring for some downtown wine tasting. It’s a prime destination for Pacific Northwest wine tasting and we always lament that we don’t get there often enough. There are dozens of tasting rooms downtown, making it easy to avoid tasting and driving. Our focus was on discovering smaller wineries that might get overlooked.
At each winery we asked the staff where else they’d recommend we go. Wine is very much about community and this rings true throughout the Walla Walla Valley. People were happy to share some of their favorites. Since Echolands was mentioned frequently, we had to go check it out.
The Echolands Story
The Echolands story begins in 2018 when two Kansas City businessmen partnered with a winemaking veteran from the Walla Walla Valley. Brad Bergman and Doug Frost were the KC residents and visionaries, and Taylor Oswald the winemaking genius. Together, the three men began the Echolands project and have never looked back.
The brand philosophy is simple – wine is the echo of the landscape, the vineyards, and the sound that they make. In simple terms, wine is a reflection of the environment in which it is grown, and the fruit is the representation of that.
Echolands brought together a strong team to launch their new winery. has a strong team in place, melding together business acumen. It’s a good balance of business acumen, creative winemaking skills, and a commitment to hospitality. Starting at the top is Doug Frost, the CEO and owner, Brad Bergman the chairman, and Brian Rudin as winemaker and general manager. Also on the team is Nick Mackay, Vineyard Manager, along with Sadie Drury.
Echolands currently rents production space while their own production facility is being built, with a lot of help being provided by the local wine community. The new production facilities will be located in the Mill Creek area of Walla Walla. The Mill Creek property was not open when we visited, but it should be very soon.
Echolands currently has two vineyard sites located in the Walla Walla Valley. Both the Taggart Vineyard and the SeVein Vineyard provide fruit for the Echolands wines.
Sustainable viticulture is at the forefront of Echoland’s philosophy and is firmly ingrained in their production processes. Local impact and biodiversity matter.
The winery currently focuses on Rhone and Bordeaux varietals only, with wines either being a 100% composition or a blend of a couple or more of these varietals. Varietals of Rhone origin include Syrah, Grenache, and Viognier, while the Bordeaux varietals include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Sauvignon Blanc, and Semillon.
The core range at Echolands is currently made up of a Bordeaux white blend, two Syrah’s from different vineyards (both have a splash of Viognier in them), and two Bordeaux-inspired red blends from different vineyards (both omitting Malbec from the blends).
Wine Tasting at Echolands Winery
The tasting room is located in downtown Walla Walla city and conveniently located for a visit. We stayed at the Marriott Courtyard, and it was an easy walk.
The tasting room is bright and full of daylight, provided by the large floor to ceiling windows at the front of the space. Even on a relatively cloudy day, it felt like a happy, cheery place.
Seating was spaciously spread out in a way that created conversation areas – perfect for talking about what you were sampling. We snagged a couch with a coffee table, grabbed my tasting notebook, and settled in.
What We Tasted
2022 Albus White Blend
This first white wine, and also the first estate wine for Echolands is 72% Sauvignon Blanc and 28% Semillon.
Tasting notes: Two clones of Sauvignon Blanc create two differing styles of the grape, but both are fruit-focused and not at all the gooseberry thing that has placed New Zealand on the map.
Our thoughts: Predominant tropical aromas with bright acidity, and interesting sweet and sour flavors reminiscent of a cocktail. We’re fairly picky about our white wine choices and took a pass on this one. ($35)
2018 Syrah Les Collines
98% Syrah, 2% Viognier from Les Collines vineyard.
Tasting notes: The aromas of this wine are restrained out of the gate, but reveal notes of raspberry, cranberry, thistle, herb, orange peel and violet that blossom over time. It’s a reserved styling, with flavors that stick around on the finish.
Our thoughts: Light and tasty, but a little to acidic for our preferences. It may benefit with a few more years in the cellar and/or with decanting. ($38)
2019 Syrah (Walla Walla AVA)
98% Syrah, 2% Viognier
Tasting Notes: Light bodied and smooth, this Syrah has blackberry aromas with just a hint of citrus. Flavors are black cherry, bittersweet chocolate, and a touch of herbiness.
Our thoughts: Deep berry aromas. Smooth black cherry flavor, not overpowering, and perhaps mellowed out by subtle herbs. Delightful. We loved this one and a couple bottles came home with us. ($38)
Bordeaux-style red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petite Verdot.
Tasting notes: Black raspberry and black tea notes combine with shades of cloves and wet gravel on the nose. The palate shows a soft texture with medium-bodied dark fruit flavors with shades of chocolate and pipe tobacco.
Our thoughts: First of all, this is fun to say. Say it over and over again and it starts to sound like Redrum (murder spelled backwards) from the Stephen King movie, The Shining. I noted flavors of honey and butterscotch in a full, but smooth, mouth feel. This appears nowhere in any tasting notes but it was predominant for me. I liked this wine a lot, but we only had room to pack two more bottles in our case to send home and we went with the Syrah. I’ll probably regret not making room for it. ($38)
2019 Seven Hills Vineyard Blend
A red blend with 100% of the grapes from the Seven Hills vineyard.
Tasting notes: Aromas of ripe blackberries, woody cedar oil and a floral thyme tisane. The wine’s grippy tannins provide a sturdy frame for flavors like blueberry jam with nutmeg, dark chocolate and a hint of vanilla.
Our thoughts: Big jammy berry flavor. rated well by the usual assortment of wine experts, but we put this in the liked it, didn’t love it category. ($52)
We also have a couple tastes of some new releases (we were there for Spring Barrel release).
Need to Know
Location: 7 West Alder. Walla Walla, Washington
Getting there: Walla Walla Regional Airport (airport code ALW) is minutes away from downtown and Pasco Airport (airport code PSC) is about an hour away. Both of these airports are served by Alaska/Horizon airlines flying in from Seattle, Washington, or Portland, Oregon. If you are buying wine, take advantage of the Wine Flies Free option offered on both airlines. It may be easier to plan a road trip to Walla Walla. It’s about a five hour drive from Seattle, about four hours from Portland and Boise, and about three hours from Spokane.
Hours: Thursday – Monday, 11 am-5 pm (closed Tuesday and Wednesday)
Reservations: Recommended, not required. We were wandering and found the tasting room, but were unable to get in that afternoon for a tasting. We made a reservation for the following day.
Special Policies: Guided tasting flights
Wine Club: Two wine club options are available, a 12-bottle option and a 6-bottle option, in two annual shipments. Club members receive free tastings and additional bottle discounts.
Drink responsibly. Limit your tastes, select a designated driver, or take a cab or ride service when doing wine tasting.
We’re not wine experts, we just have a love of wine. We enjoy tasting, learning about, and buying wines for our home cellar. We learn something new every time we visit a winery or tasting room, and we’re interested in visiting different wineries here at home (join us a we search for Washington’s best wines) as well as when we travel.
In other words, we’re probably just like you. Cheers!
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