Abeja in Walla Walla had its first release with the 2001 vintage. Abeja was started in 2000 when Ken and Ginger Harrison stayed as guests at the historic inn on the Abeja propertys, then purchased the inn and the farm. In 2002 they were joined by John Abbot and Molly Galt, founders of Canoe Ridge Vineyard. John Abbott is the winemaker at Abeja. Abeja has estate vineyards in the Walla Wally Valley appellation, and also sources grapes from the Columbia Valley. The estate makes Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Viognier, Merlot and Chardonnay. Abeja wines typically earn ratings in the 90s from wine reviewers.
Walla Walla Valley AVA likes to call itself the Napa Valley of Washington, and given the concentration of well-reviewed wineries in the appellation, the comparison is understandable. The Walla Walla appellation is comprised of 340,000 acres, of which 1,200 acres are vineyards. Walla Walla is located in the southeastern corner of Washington and it extends slightly into northeastern Oregon. It is named after the Walla Walla River Valley, and the city of Walla Walla is the commercial center of Washington’s wine industry. The city was founded in the 1840s by the Hudson’s Bay Company as a trading post, but as early as the 1850s farmers were planting grapes for winemaking. Prohibition shuttered winemaking in the early 20th century, but a winemaking renaissance started in the 1970s when Leonetti Cellars, still one of the state’s most acclaimed wineries, started producing acclaimed Cabernet Sauvignon. Walla Walla’s AVA status was awarded in 1984 and today there are more than 100 wineries. Cabernet Sauvignon is the most frequently planted grape, followed by Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese Chardonnay and Viognier.
This white variety originated in Burgundy, but is now grown around the world. Its flexibility to thrive in many regions translates to wide flavor profile in the market. Chardonnay is commonly used in making Champagne and sparkling wines.