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The Walls Acquires Rockgarden

Tuesday, 21 January 2020 14:41
Rockgarden Voneyard Is Latest Acquisition of The Walls Vineyards in Walla Walla Rockgarden Voneyard Is Latest Acquisition of The Walls Vineyards in Walla Walla

TASTE News Service, January 21, 2020 — The Walls Vineyards, a boutique winery in Walla Walla, Washington, has acquired the 10-acre Rockgarden Vineyard in The Rocks District of Milton Freewater AVA, located in the Southern portion of the Walla Walla Valley.

The addition of this well-regarded vineyard property to the already exclusive vineyards from which The Walls currently sources fruit will allow it to continue the strong momentum it has generated since its founding in 2014. With this addition, the plan is to produce a new estate-focused line-up of wines. They will be vinified in its state-of-the-art facility in Walla Walla, utilizing a combination of concrete tanks and large-format French oak foudre. Additionally, well-known winemaker Todd Alexander has joined the team as consulting winemaker.

Owner Mike Martin commented, “The addition of an estate vineyard, and having Todd consulting on all of our winemaking and viticultural practices, gives us an opportunity to build on the great work we've done and take our winemaking to a whole new level. It has always been our goal to craft wines that are indicative of the place where they are grown, and owning our own vineyards allows us to further this objective.” In addition to the Rockgarden vineyard, Martin also owns another 20 acres of Rocks District AVA land, which he plans to begin planting in 2021.  The Walls will continue to produce a small selection of wines from some ultra-premium Rocks District vineyards with which it has partnered since 2016.

About the Vineyard

Rockgarden Vineyard was planted in 2007 by Nina Buty with the assistance of famed viticulturalist Dr. Phil Freese. The fruit has historically gone into single vineyard bottlings for Buty Winery and K Vintners, where it has produced wines that have consistently received scores from the major wine press in the mid-to-high 90s.  Buty Winery was not included in the transaction. Buty remains under Nina Buty’s ownership and will continue to produce the variety of single vineyard blends for which the winery has become famous over the past 20 years.

Rockgarden is named for the famous cobblestones formed by an ancient riverbed in the southern part of the Walla Walla Valley and is uniquely planted perpendicular to the angle of the sun to shade the fruit zone during hottest days of the year.  It is densely planted to Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Cabernet Sauvignon, Marsanne and Roussanne all trained low to the ground. The Walls will add a half-acre block of Viognier for Syrah co-fermentation, as well as a white wine blend.

The vineyard is ideally situated in the highest part of the cobblestones, allowing for air flow that minimizes frost concerns. It was certified organic by Oregon Tilth on October 15th, 2010 and has been continuously farmed organically since it was planted. The Walls values organic and sustainable farming and winemaking practices and the vineyard will continue to be farmed to organic standards. Rockgarden is densely planted, requiring a European tractor to fit through the rows for cultivation. This high-density planting allows for lower yield per plant, further ensuring ultra-premium quality and intensity of fruit.


CEO and Owner Mike Martin believes great wine starts with a team of highly skilled and passionate professionals and feels he has put together a team that will ensure the continued success of The Walls. To this end, in 2019, The Walls added Consulting Winemaker Todd Alexander.

Todd Alexander is one of a select few 100-point winemakers in Washington State, who began his winemaking career in the Napa Valley at such esteemed wineries as Cade and PlumpJack, later becoming the winemaker at cult cabernet producer Bryant Family Vineyard. Todd has been in the Pacific Northwest for the past six vintages, crafting highly-rated and regarded wines at Force Majeure Vineyards, from estate fruit grown on Red Mountain. His involvement with The Walls allows him to take the lead in crafting wines from a variety of Pacific Northwest AVAs, further showcasing his talent.

“Mike has demonstrated a very strong commitment to quality-oriented winemaking,” said the winemaker,  “and the opportunity to work with these vineyard sites and in addition, help develop an estate wine program, are great opportunities that I am excited about, in an effort to help The Walls make the best wines possible.”

Todd’s first vintage at The Walls was 2019. His 2019 River Rock Vineyard Syrah will be featured in an upcoming Hospice du Rhône seminar in Paso Robles, CA, where he is a presenter.

The Future

In addition to acquiring and planting estate vineyard properties and building a talented and cohesive team, the winery itself is undergoing a facelift. Walla Walla based architect Alex DeMambro is working with The Walls to create an upscale outdoor visitor area and to make improvements to the current building. The winery lab and kitchen will be expanded and the indoor tasting room reappointed. The hospitality experience will allow for focused side by side tastings, small bites, evening parties, vineyard tours, wine dinners, members-only offerings and more.

The Walls Vineyards is dedicated to producing wines of the highest quality with minimal intervention, that are indicative of their place, and to providing a visitor experience that is educational, intentional, elevated, and welcoming to anyone interested in wine. The addition of estate vineyard blocks, and improved facilities will go a long way toward achieving those goals.

Last modified on Tuesday, 21 January 2020 14:50


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