After a century of growing apples in the Walla Walla Valley, the Brown family started adding vineyards to its portfolio in 2001. Before long, they began producing both award-winning cider under its Blue Mountain Cider Company and wines under its Watermill Winery brand – a tip of the cap to its home of Milton-Freewater, Ore. Of their seven vineyards, Watermill Estate Vineyard commands the spotlight for this small-lot Syrah project that involves co-fermenting with Viognier (5%) and an 11-month program devoted to French oak, with two of those barrels being new. Its layered nose of dusty blue fruit, cola and earthiness also offers vanilla bean and baking spice. Rich and jammy flavors of blackberry and elderberry are framed by nicely balanced tannins and savory finish of squid ink.
Production: 150 cases