Walla Walla Wine Tasting

So, I’m just going to gloss over the fact that I’ve skipped an entire week. Here are some bullet pointed highlights:

  • Spent the previous weekend glued to the TV, and at a party at J’s house, and trying to change the tyre on my bike
  • Met with Greg, talked about Fscans, got shown around the LIGO-WA cluster
  • Hosted Mouse Guard, T played, and it didn’t end well for him.
  • Managed to change the tyre on my bike.
  • Hosted a pub quiz on Wednesday, 2 teams competed. Ross’ team got DESTROYED
  • Managed to successfully write a python code from scratch. It output what I want it to.


Wasn’t that so much less painful? So let’s just skip ahead to Saturday. It was a really very busy weekend. As it was Miriam’s last weekend in the states, she and Evan had invited us all out to go wine tasting in Walla Walla, a town about 45 minutes to the east. We left before midday, and 5 of us piled into the car. Of course, Walla Walla, much like many towns in this area, Yakima, Wallula, Umatilla etc, are native american names. In fact, the whole area has a rich history. We passed right be the Sacajawea State Park. Yes, that Sacajewea. See it on the map below:

We got into Walla Walla a little after midday, and parked up right outside of “Onion World”. It happens that Walla Walla is known for its onions. It’s a strange thing to be known for, but whatever works. As we walked around the corner onto Main St, some of the roads were barricaded, and there were stewards holding bells. Just after we had crossed the roads, about 50 cyclists came screaming round the corner, all in Lycra and hunched over their handlebars. Today, as it happens, is the Walla Walla bike race.


We wandered up and down Main St for ten minutes, and decided that we should all get some lunch before going tasting. We came across this place called Olive. It seemed up-market from their menu: Duck confit salad, artisan pizzas, and warm sandwiches. I had a coconut and carrot curry soup, which was delicious. In Evan’s plate, there were some mystery unidentifiable vegetables. They were long and thin like a carrot, the colour was a deep pink, lighter than plum, and the taste was fruity, but with a carrot-y texture. If you have any thoughts on what that might be, feel free to comment below.


Walla Walla is a college town, with (I think) 2 campuses, and so it has a much younger population than the Tri-cities, and a much more liberal outlook. More than that, Walla Walla is a haven for wineries. Even though many of the vineyards are west of Richland, near to Prosser, there are very few wineries based in the Tri-cities. Our first winery of the day was Mark Ryan winery. The five of us shared two sampling. The flight was a flight of 5, starting with a rose, a Chardonnay, then 3 reds, each deeper and richer than the last. Between Ross, T and I, we bought a bottle of red to take home.


We asked the people at Mark Ryan where best to go for more wineries, and they pointed us to a street full of wineries. There, we stopped into a few to check what they had on offer. One of the places offered “$5 each glass, and 7 bottles to try” – I took that to mean $5 for a try of each bottle, and $35 for a full flight, an poo-pooed the idea. Outside, the others told me that it likely meant $5 for a physical cup, with which we coculd try the seven wines. Disgraced, we did not return. Instead, we headed to Trust, another flight of 5 for $10, this time with one white and 4 reds. The Riesling was way too sweet, and my favourite they had on offer was one of the two Syrahs on offer. But the other two wanted the other Syrah, so we settled on that one. After half an hour in there, and “can I try that one again” and “what would you put this one with?”, we stumbled again into the sun.


We were almost ready to head home, but we decided that we ought to walk off the wine before Evan drives us home.  We walked along Main St for a while, and then back again, soaking in the sun. And then we were driving home.

The evening on Saturday saw the annual “Wisteria party” at one of the LIGO-ons house. This was, apparently, his chance in the year to have people from his whole life to get together and get to know each other, under the wisteria in full bloom on his terrace.. We all pulled up to his house in the evening in a very nice part of town, and got about mingling. There were people there from the local gliding group, from his street, old friends. Ross and I met one man who used to head up a research department at the old Hanford B-reactor. He had some interesting stories about research protocols then, about using interferometry to measure the length of carbon moderator rods, and going down to Los Alamos to do research for space travel. It really was a good time. Towards the end of the evening, the Black Hole Binary Bluegrass Band struck up again, and seemed to be having a good time. The rest of us certainly were. By 10, it was time to go home and call a close to the day.

And what a day.


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