Washington state is well-known for its incredible number of vineyards, wineries and vast growing regions. We are second only to California when it comes to domestic production, and wineries across the state are racking up awards of all kinds. Many different grapes are grown across the state, giving enthusiasts a virtually unlimited amount of styles and blends from which to find their favorites. There are a few ways to ferment those grapes into wine, but at the Olalla Vineyard, you’ll taste wines produced like nowhere else in Washington.
Husband and wife Stuart Chisholm and Mary Ellen Houston chose to get out of the congestion of Seattle and find a more peaceful way of life. An opportunity to take over the Olalla Vineyard presented itself, and the couple purchased the establishment on December 30, 2015, and officially re-opened for business on June 4, 2016. What makes Olalla special amongst many others wineries is the use of clay amphorae to ferment its wines.
“Olalla incorporates the use of handcrafted clay Italian amphorae into the winemaking process, thus binding the grape fermentation to the earth from which the grapes were borne,” explains Houston. “This ancient winemaking method, used by the Greeks and Romans for centuries, creates clean, fruit-forward wines that replicate the best of the classic, Old-World style vintages.”
Upon arrival at the Olalla Vineyard, you will feel at peace in its natural setting that includes gardens and streams, overlooking the Puget Sound. Olalla Vineyard and Winery sits on six acres, of which nearly half is used to grow the grapes to produce their estate wines. “The Olalla Vineyard grows Golubok, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Merlot, Viognier, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer,” says Houston. The winery also produces non-estate wines in which they purchase grapes from other growers from Red Mountain, Yakima Valley and the Columbia Valley, among others. Master winemaker Matthew Loso oversees production at the boutique winery to ensure the quality of each wine produced.
With such a beautiful property, Stuart and Mary Ellen have opened it up to all kinds of events as well. Wedding ceremonies and receptions, birthday parties, company retreats, business meetings and other private celebrations can all be arranged. The Tasting Room is open Thursday through Sunday, noon to 5pm, May through October. During the summer months, you will often experience live music and concerts while you sample or sip on a glass of wine.
Some wines age longer than others, but expected to be released this year include the 2015 Red Mountain Malbec and Cabernet Franc, the 2016 Estate Pinot Noir and the hard-to-find 2016 Estate Golubok. This is Olalla’s flagship wine with grape origins believed to be from Eastern Europe including Croatia, Russia and the Ukraine.
Though Olalla has only been their home for less than a year, the couple is already very active in the tight-knit community. Mary Ellen is a member of the Positive Olalla Projects group which encourages, celebrates and supports the people in the Olalla community through local service projects, events and activities. Olalla Vineyard and Winery also supports several local charities and non-profits such as Communities in Schools of Peninsula, South Kitsap High School, Miss Pierce County Scholarship Program and Gig Harbor Peninsula FISH Community Services.
A trip to the Olalla Vineyard will relax the soul. You’ll enjoy a peaceful setting and wines made in similar fashion to those made in ancient Italy and Greece. Check in often this summer to hear about new releases, dinners in the vineyard, and upcoming local musicians and concerts. Swirl, sip and unwind at one of the truly special wineries in our state.
Olalla Vineyard and Winery
13176 Olalla Valley Rd. SE
Olalla, Washington 98359