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Spring 2008 Update

Spring is in the air: Come check out our new releases

It is that time of year again—Spring Release—and we couldn’t be more excited.  Please come visit us in Walla Walla during the first weekend in May (Friday, May 2- Sunday, May 4).  We will be releasing the highly anticipated 2007 Rosé and 2006 Syrah.

These wines are thrilling, and each offers a completely different sensory experience.  The Syrah is rich and textured.  Notes of blueberries and flowers lead to smoky, meaty, earthy nuances.  The Rosé is light and crisp, flaunting zingy flavors of strawberries, cherries, raspberries and citrus.

We will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.  On Sunday, our hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Please note that we will close promptly at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 3rd to prepare for our Coin Club party.

 If you cannot join us at the winery, but would still like to place an order, contact Patty (509-525-3541  or

From the Managing Partner: Ray Goff 

You have probably heard that our winemaker, Jean-François Pellet, is President of the Walla Walla Valley’s sustainable viticulture organization, Vinea.  Many of our customers have asked: “What is sustainable viticulture?”  Simply put, it means that we don’t take more out of the earth than we are able to put back in.  It is not just a convenient buzz word: we are looking ahead and taking steps now so future generations will inherit our vineyards in better agricultural condition than they are today.  Our estate vineyards—Les Collines, Seven Hills and Pepper Bridge—are among only a handful in Washington that are certified sustainable by a third party, the International Organization of Biological Control (IOBC).

In our estate vineyards, we produce premium wine grapes with as little intervention as possible and maintain a healthy ecosystem.  We make extensive use of compost and compost teas to rejuvenate our soils, with the idea that healthy soils produce healthy plants that are more resistant to diseases and produce superior wine grapes. We have also planted wild roses and blackberries around our vineyards as habitat for beneficial insects.  We encourage our vineyard workers to have a community garden alongside the vines to promote biodiversity.

We are delighted to see quite a bit of wildlife in the vineyards—everything from wild turkeys and hawks to elk.  In fact, although the vines were dormant for the winter, the vineyard was alive with activity.  We had a huge herd of elk make its way through Les Collines Vineyard this year when it migrated down from the Blue Mountains.  Although they left some significant hoof prints and tore down a section of fence, they paid little attention to our vines.

From a personal standpoint, preservation of/respect for the land has been a key issue for me throughout my life.  I have been a strong supporter of raptor rehabilitation and reintroduction, serving as a Director of the World Bird Sanctuary—and the preservation of wildlife habitat, serving as a Director of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.  My wife, Diana, worked hands-on rehabilitating raptors, and she has always stayed close to nature with her diverse garden.  She grows a large part of our household herbs and veggies… and enough for the neighbors, too!

In our estate vineyards, we are past the risk of a spring freeze.  Our dedicated vineyard crews have just finished hand-pruning the grape vines, and we look forward to bud break in May.  We are very excited as another great vintage of Amavi wines is just beginning!

Look out—The carnies are back!

We will be holding our Second Annual Spring Carnival at the winery on Saturday, May 2nd at 6:30 p.m.  Yes, once again we will be transforming the winery into a house of fun for a night of yummy food, fantastic wines and carnival games.  And remember—with games come prizes!

This event is exclusively for Coin Club members and their guests.  Reservations are required.  Please RSVP to Patty by April 25 so she can plan accordingly with our caterers.    She may be reached at  509-525-3541  or  The cost is $25 per person.

Please note that the winery will be CLOSED from 5:00 p.m. until 6:30 p.m.  We need the time to set up for the party, and we appreciate your understanding.

Not a member of the Coin Club?  Interested?

We started our wine club, known as the Coin Club, as a way to reward our loyal customers.  Membership is free!

As a member of the Coin Club, you will receive:

  •     Six bottles of our wine, twice a year, at a 20% discount (some of these wines are available only through the Club);
  •     A 20% discount on additional purchases of current vintage (including large format!) wines and non-wine items;
  •     Advance notification of any special releases of limited availability and/or library wines;
  •     Invitations to exclusive events, such as our Spring Carnival.

Check out our new look

This spring you will notice that for our sixth vintage, we have updated our labels.  We decided that as we grew and matured as a winery, our label needed to reflect our evolving identity.  We have gone away from an “easy to see on the shelves” label toward more of a “white tablecloth” label that is more subtle, yet rich and textured. 

As you can see, we eliminated of most of the orange color and went to more earthy tones.  We also increased the visibility of the Walla Walla River that was almost non-discernible on the old label.  The Walla Walla River is very important to us at Amavi Cellars as it defines a sense of “place” for our small, family-owned winery and our acclaimed estate vineyards … a “place” that we  pledge to protect and enhance with our sustainable viticulture program.

We also kept our trademark coin but changed it a little bit as well.  Ceres, the goddess of agriculture, still adorns the face of the coin but is now a photographic image of a vintage coin, rather than an artist’s rendering that was there previously.  The edge of the label now has a tattered or burned look, giving it a rustic quality.

All of us here at Amavi looked at dozens of design mockups from the designer and finally whittled the options down to a couple of different versions.  Then three of us locked ourselves in a room and finally came to a consensus on the design that you see now.  We are excited to present our new label to you, our customers, and we hope you will like it as much as we do.

Eric McKibben, General Manager

People are talking…

Wine reviewers continue to recommend our wines to their readers.  We’d like to share what they have said!
Amavi 2005 Cab
  • Abundantly full of ripe black- and red-currant fruit.  Washington’s best wines offer quality equal to top reds from California’s star regions, often at about half the price.” (Ray Isle, Senior Wine Editor, Food & Wine)
  • 90 points.  Smooth and supple... includes a healthy bit of Syrah which adds details of spice and pepper to the smooth and supple cassis and black cherry fruit. Tannins are ripe and well-defined, and the wine carries subtle suggestions of olive and tea. It’s focused and bright, polished and immediately delicious though it could certainly cellar for a few years.” (Paul Gregutt, Wine Enthusiast)

Amavi 2005 Syrah
  • “Fruit pulled from Les Collines [Vineyard] gives this bargain-of-the-century Syrah an immense earth and smoked meat center typical of classic Rhône Valley offerings.  Violets, black pepper and ripe red and black cherries are brightened beautifully by balanced acids.”  (Master Sommelier Shayn Bjornholm, Seattle Magazine)
  • 90 points.  "Following the shortfall of grapes in 2004, this is a welcome return to a widely available, sappy and fragrant Walla Walla Syrah at an affordable price.  Fragrant and pleasingly floral it immediately sends up scents of citrus and pepper, following with tart berries and plenty of snappy acidity.  The wine expands beautifully in the glass and tastes great even after being open for a full 24 hours."   (Paul Gregutt, Wine Enthusiast)

Amavi 2006 Sémillon
  • “Riesling has been rediscovered, and other Washington white wine grapes all seem to have their proponents. But pure-blooded Sémillon such as this gorgeous bottle from Amavi still ranks among Washington's best-kept secrets. Winemaker Jean-François Pellet… grew up in Switzerland and has a particular fondness for white wine grapes. This creamy, leesy new release is packed with flavors of apple, melon and pear. It's rich enough for hearty cream sauces but crisp enough to accompany delicate seafood.  (Paul Gregutt, Seattle Times)
  • 91 points.  "Consistent with recent vintages, this lovely Sémillon opens immediately into a creamy, leesy, expressive core. Scents of green apple, lemon and beeswax turn into lush fruit flavors of melon, pear and citrus. It shows far more complex and interesting fruit character than most unoaked Chardonnays – here, the acids are not intrusive but come naturally in the back of the throat.”  (Paul Gregutt, Wine Enthusiast)

BIG bottles: Their proper names

Visitors to the tasting room often ask us the proper names for large-format wine bottles.  Whereas it is always OK to call a bottle by its metric size, i.e. a “three liter,”  there are also more fun names in the vernacular of the wine world.  It can be confusing, however, because the names are often different in different wine growing regions.  At Amavi Cellars, we have adopted the names used in Bordeaux.  Here are some fun ones for you:

Name                    Capacity in Liters            Equivalent # of 750ml bottles
                                                                                                   (standard size)

Magnum                                    1.5                                        2 bottles

Double Magnum                     3                                            4 bottles  

Jéroboam                                 5                                             6.7 bottles
Impériale                                   6                                             8 bottles

Salmanazar                              9                                             12 bottles

While we are on the subject, let’s not forget about those small guys and their American nicknames.

Name                    Capacity in Liters           Equivalent # of 750ml bottles
                                                                             (standard size)
Half-bottle                            .375                                        .5
Split                                        .187                                        .25

Often you will hear people call half bottles “splits.”  Although this is traditionally not the proper name, we’re still hearing it a lot.   

Amavi Cellars:  Who we are

Amavi Cellars is owned and operated by the Goff, McKibben and Pellet families.  We are dedicated caretakers of the land who craft elegant, approachable wines from our Walla Walla Valley estate vineyards.