We were part of a caravan of forlorn business people from the rainy side of the Cascades looking for a day free from conference calls, meetings and emails at least for one day. Yes, we were tourists in Walla Walla, WA.
First stop, the vineyard for Figgins Wine. There we were met by winemaker Chris Figgins, a gentle soul who introduced us to his family’s story, starting with an Italian immigrant Grandfather making wine in his dirt-floor basement, then his father starting Leonetti Cellar, and now his own efforts.
Chris laid down some interesting infos on us, things I had not personally known. The soil of the rolling hills of the Walla Walla area – turns out it’s wind-blown silt from the ice-age Missoula Floods, making for a uniquely consistent soil for agriculture. Also, the area has no Phylloxera, meaning they don’t have to graft the grape they want on Phylloxera-resistant rootstock, it’s all the same grape from top to bottom.
Chris spoke at length about the work they put into choosing the site and planning out each block with altitude, climate and solar exposure in mind. Rainfall increases as you get closer to the Blue Mountains. Chris tells us they get 22 inches or rain, just at the point where they have to do a small amount of irrigation, giving them control over how much water their fruit gets.
And of course, it’s a beautiful location.
So here’s your wine marketing challenge: get to the point where you only sell wine to people on your current customer list. Want the wine? Want to taste it? Want to see a bottle of it? Don’t go to Fred Meyer. They don’t have a tasting room either.
So, I’m not going to tell you anything further about their wine. You’ll have to get on the list.