#TravelTuesday Destination: Basel Cellars

In 1997, a grand home was built in the Walla Walla Valley. This home, clocking in at a whopping 13,800 square feet, was designed to have the same awe-inspiring reactions that the grand American Lodges, such as Timberline Lodge, have. Double River Ranch was the name given to this grand home just south of the town of Walla Walla. It was owned by car and motorcycle enthusiast, who stored his cars in the underground garage behind the home and his motorcycles in the basement.

The main house at Basel Cellars
The main house at Basel Cellars

A mere 5 years later, the opportunity presented itself for local winegrower Greg Basel to purchase the property. Upon his visit to the property, he noticed two things. One was nature. Nestled between Yellowhawk Creek and the Walla Walla River, he saw the 85 acre property as a prime location to grow grapes. The second thing he noticed was the 9600 square foot underground garage. To him, this underground garage was reminiscent to the winemaking caves in France. He purchased the property and the seeds for what is now known as Basel Cellars were planted. A young winemaker by the name of Trey Busch was hired on to handle the first vintages for them. In 2007, Trey was presented with an opportunity to move on from Basel and venture into being both a winemaker and owner. However, he didn’t veer far. Trey’s winery, Sleight of Hand Cellars, is located just a few minutes away.

After a few years of growing the new winery, Greg invited some friends from a previous career, Steve and JoMarie Hansen, to visit the fledgling estate and potentially become business partners. After visiting the property and mulling over the opportunity, the Hansen’s became 50/50 partners with Greg Basel in this venture. By 2011, the transition of full ownership from the Basel’s to the Hansen’s began.

I recently visited Basel Cellars, or “The Mothership” as their National Sales and Marketing Director, Shannon, has called it in email communications between him and I. I say mothership because they have two satellite tasting rooms, one in Woodinville, WA and another in Vancouver, WA. During my visit, I had the opportunity to taste through their lineup. In all honesty, though, if you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time, you know that I profess my love for them quite often, so it shouldn’t come as no surprise that I tasted through their lineup.

This visit was different, though. One year ago, I visited and got a tour, but didn’t get the depth that I did on this visit. This year, I got to see the grandeur that is the inside of the main house. Words can not explain how beautiful the inside of the guest house is. Seriously. From top-of-the-line kitchen equipment to exquisite accommodations, this house is for you.

To see just how stunning the interior is, you can go to their VRBO listing and see the photographs. However, I will share some photos of this stunning property.

View of the Blue Mountains from Basel Cellars
View of the Blue Mountains from Basel Cellars
Basel Cellars Tasting Room
Basel Cellars Tasting Room
Basel Cellars Pool & Cabana House.  Image courtesy of Basel Cellars, used with permission.
Basel Cellars Pool & Cabana House. Image courtesy of Basel Cellars, used with permission.

While there, I also got to go into the cellar and meet their winemaking team. Oh, and I got a sneak peek at the 3 of their 2015 wines. Let’s just say that winelovers everywhere are in for a treat with this vintage!

Basel Cellars winemaking team, l to r; Brian Biagi and Dirk Brink
Basel Cellars winemaking team, l to r; Brian Biagi and Dirk Brink

The wines of Basel Cellars are soft and food friendly. While they’re drinkable now, they also can age beautifully.

A few of my favorites:

2014 Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon: Traditionally, this is a 50/50 blend, but in 2014, they made this a 65% Sauvignon Blanc, 35% Semillon blend. This wine has a fun mix of flavors, including melons, lemongrass and butterscotch. I would recommend pairing this with seafood such as crab or shrimp during a nice, casual evening with friends in your backyard. SRP: $22

2011 Cabernet Sauvignon: 2011 was a challenging vintage throughout Washington. It was a cool year, meaning the winemakers and viticulturists were kept on their toes to ensure quality fruit. This Cabernet Sauvignon has notes of black pepper, cherry cola and a lovely earthiness on the nose, while the palate shows characteristics of cherries, strawberries and punchy tannins. I’m not one for tannic wines, but I make an exception in this case. Pair this with a pot roast, a roaring fire and a good book. SRP: $36

2010 Claret: If I had to sum this wine up in a sentence, I’d say, “This Claret is a balanced kitchen sink blend that shows a rustic elegance.” The breakdown on this wine is 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 12% Syrah, 7% Cabernet Franc, 3.5% Malbec and 0.5% Petit Verdot. It really does showcase the structure of each varietal without an astronomical price tag. Pair this with grilled red meats. Personally, I would be in heaven with a venison or elk steak and this wine. SRP: $25

Disclaimer: As both a member of Basel Cellars Club 2901 and the media, my tasting fees were waived and I was given additional access to the facility via their Hospitality Manager.

2 Comment

  1. Deanna says: Reply

    I will definitely look some of these up. Thanks for all of the great information, my husband and I are always looking for new wines. I want to try the one you pair with pot roast!

    1. Alina says: Reply

      That Cabernet is awesome!!

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