Fort Walla Walla Cellars

Pepper Bridge Vineyard

These techniques contribute to the fruit intensity and concentration of complex grape flavors

Pepper Bridge Vineyards is owned by Norm Mckibbon and Rick Goff. The Vineyard is managed by Tom Walliser. Pepper Bridge is located in the Walla Walla Valley appellation near the Washington and Oregon border at an elevation between 790 and 840 feet. Fort Walla Walla Cellars currently contracts for 2 acres of Syrah wine grapes and small lots of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from this vineyard.

We work closely with Tom on the irrigation, grape cropping and optimum harvest time for our grapes. The vineyard is elevated above the valley floor on a slack water terrace island. This allows any cold air to naturally drain away from the grapevines, thus avoiding excessive problems with frost during the growing season.

The use of propane-driven wind machines ensures a frost-free vineyard during the most extreme cold weather periods. The low organic content and optimal drainage of the predominant loess soils in the vineyard make it relatively easy to control vigor and grape yield with modern viticulture techniques and a state of the art drip irrigation system.

The growing season in most years at Pepper Bridge vineyards exceeds 3000 (50F) degree days and yields fully ripe fruit with excellent tannins. The relative dryness of the vineyard (less than 13 inches annual precipitation) with low humidity (mean humidity during July is 50.4% at an average temperature of 69.5 F), further concentrates fruit flavors through evaporation.

Our grapevines are stressed and closely monitored for the proper water application, with weekly neutron probe water readings during the growing season. The maturing wine grapes are also cropped (grape clusters are thinned for enhanced color and taste) in late July and mid August to yield approximately 3 tons of grapes per acre.

These techniques contribute to the fruit intensity and concentration of complex grape flavors that are necessary to produce Fort Walla Cellar's ultra premium wines.