Our favorite visits are to family wineries. There appears to be an involvement by all family members, young and old, in these places that is visible and comfortable, making the visit so enjoyable. There almost always is a dog, often a winery cat, and sometimes an array of other animals meandering about.
The conversations we have with our host or hosts shows a tenacious passion for both wine and family, as we visit, ultimately personal stories are told and a familiarity with the family begins to be felt.
At Isenhower we were met by Jeffery and hosted by Lexy, the winery assistant who was a recent graduate of Walla Walla’s Enology and Viticulture program. Lexy and Jeffery are a pair. Jeffery was the entertainment, with a singular focus on a half-eaten tennis ball and a need for it to be thrown repeatedly. Lexy was all about the wine and so very energized and able to answer all of our questions.
Lexy was filling in for Denise Isenhower who is both a hands on owner of the winery with husband Brett and an active mother of three young girls. I got the feeling though that she is even more involved (a super mom) as she was a bounty of information on the Walla Walla wine region and the community.
Denise and winery dog, Kona, arrived as we were beginning to taste our second wine. Denise had been tied up at the orthodontist’s with their eldest daughter for the special day of having braces removed. We totally understood.
The tasting room in the winery is a showcase for art that has appeared on their wine labels by local professional artists and by their three daughters. That of course appeals to me! They very much appreciate making the wine label something artistically special while supporting the local art community and their daughters’ budding talents.
Isenhower Goes Green to Save Money, Earth, Walla Walla Lifestyles Magazine
The family moved to Walla Walla in 1998 and released their first wine in 2001. The Isenhower family’s winery is small and the wines are rarely available for sale outside the winery, their tasting room in Woodinville, and local restaurants. I think they make a great statement about their wine. “The amount of wine we have the energy to make happens to be the amount of wine we can sell directly to consumers.”
We tasted a Viognier, Roussanne and their 2013 Pink Paintbrush Rose that were all very lovely but our palates were set to taste reds, and that we did! Denise poured us their “Road Less Traveled,” a 2012 100% Cabernet Franc which was one of our shipping selections and it was the bottle we chose to complement our last dinner in Walla Walla at Brasserie 4.
We followed the Cab Franc with the 2012 Purple Paintbrush, a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and a bit of Merlot, and then tasted the 2012 A Bloc Malbec. Finally, we tried the 2012 Dutchman Vineyard Syrah – Yakima Valley. It’s made from the grapes of the 2nd oldest vineyard in Washington State. It was fabulous!
There were no disappointments in the array of wines Isenhower is creating. All of the wines are truly, truly exceptional and are a fantastic buy. We are shipping several of each of the reds and have signed on to their wine club for more. I must note, we are not crazy about wine clubs, but Isenhower’s club is flexible and offers you the opportunity to pick some of your own which is a terrific option.
Many, many thanks to Denise and Lexy and Jeffery and Kona for a wonderful experience at Isenhower!