“The more I have learned about wine … the more I have realized that it weaves in with human history from its very beginning, as few, if any, other products do. Textiles, pottery, bread … there are other elements of daily use that we can also trace back to the Stone Age. Yet wine alone is charged with sacramental meaning, with healing powers; indeed with a life of its own.” ~Hugh Johnson.
Hugh Johnson’s observation of wine likewise explains Spring Valley Vineyard; rich in history, and latticed with people and the surrounding terroir of the Walla Walla Valley. An Indian name meaning “many waters,” Walla Walla has been fertile farmland for generations. The first recorded history in this area is the establishment of Fort Nez Pearce in 1818, now known as Fort Walla Walla. Uriah Corkrum started farming in the mid-1800s, and acquired land known as Spring Valley in 1910. Eighty years later, in 1993, Uriah’s grand-daughter and her husband, Shari and Dean Derby, planted grapes where wheat had been grown for decades.
Derby’s son, Devin, moved back to the ranch to manage the winery at Spring Valley in 1999. As founding winemaker, he made the first wine – URIAH, a Merlot-based red blend which debuted in 2001. He also designed the distinctive labels for Spring Valley’s wines –featuring old portraits from family members and their name for the wine, the labels convey their story and heritage.
In 2002, Serge Laville, a French winemaker, moved from France to become assistant winemaker under Devin. They both shared a winemaking philosophy of “listening to the vineyard” and making wine with minimal intervention, using only estate grown fruit from Spring Valley. Unfortunately, Devin was killed in a tragic car accident in 2004 and Serge took over as head winemaker, continuing the philosophy they both shared. “I learned winemaking in France,” says Serge, “but I learned how to make Washington wine from Devin.”
Today, Spring Valley Vineyard consists of 111 acres, including Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec.
“One of the things I love about Spring Valley Vineyard is the similarity in our own story at El Gaucho,” says Jacob Lawrence, El Gaucho Tacoma’s Wine Captain. “They’re a family-owned business that continues to pass on the traditions and values it was founded on.”
For the month of April, all El Gaucho locations, and AQUA by El Gaucho, are featuring Spring Valley Frederick, a new-world-styled, fruit-driven Cabernet Sauvignon blend, on the menu. The Frederick has received 92 points from Wine Spectator and 91 points from Wine Advocate.
El Gaucho Tacoma is also proudly featuring two others: the Nina Lee Syrah – a 100% Syrah, which has received 90 points from Wine Spectator and 92 points from Wine Advocate; and the Uriah, a Merlot blend named after Spring Valley’s grandfather, which was awarded 92 points from Wine & Spirits Magazine.
Spring Valley will also be pouring their award-winning wines at this year’s Legendary SWIRL at El Gaucho Seattle, Saturday May 16th, as well as hosting a wine dinner following SWIRL. Don’t miss the opportunity to join winemaker Serge Laville as he takes guests through each pairing and discusses the rich history and the Spring Valley wine-making process.
Celebrate spring and Spring Valley Vineyards wines with us this month. Cheers!