LOWDEN, Wash. – Rather than joining the herd of Walla Walla Valley wineries opening satellite tasting rooms in Western Washington, owner/winemaker Marty Clubb and his wife, Megan, are investing in downtown Walla Walla by opening Heritage by L’Ecole Wine Bar this spring in the historic Marcus Whitman Hotel.
Their new tasting gallery will be one block from Baker Boyer Bank, the multi-generation financial institution previously led by Megan and her late father – Baker Ferguson, who founded L’Ecole Nº 41 Winery in 1983 along with Megan’s mother, Jean. Marty would take over as managing winemaker in 1989, growing the business into an internationally acclaimed brand with an annual production of 40,000 cases while helping to turn tiny Lowden and the circa 1915 schoolhouse into a destination for wine lovers.
“We’re so enthusiastic about the possibility to welcome Walla Walla locals and visitors to our valley, in a new and unique setting,” Marty said in a news release. “Heritage by L’Ecole illustrates our family’s commitment to the Walla Walla experience for all wine lovers.”
Heritage by L’Ecole Wine Bar is scheduled to be open to the public during Walla Walla Valley Wine’s Spring Kick-Off Weekend on April 2-4. The Clubb family’s new project is poised to be an immediate attraction and complement the other tasting rooms just off the hotel’s lobby, replacing TERO Estates in the corner space between Second Avenue and Rose Street.
Hotel owner Kyle Mussman stated, “L’Ecole’s decision to open their unique Heritage Wine Bar is particularly meaningful for us, as the hotel was originally developed in the 1920s by a group of local business and community members, including W.W. Baker, the grandfather of L’Ecole Winery’s founder, Baker Ferguson. Heritage is a very fitting name, and we’re excited that the partnership has come full circle.”
Clubb-Olson designs Heritage by L’Ecole Wine Bar
The winery noted that Heritage by L’Ecole Wine Bar will pay homage to the Walla Walla Valley’s history throughout its presentation of current releases, small lots and library selections. Outdoor seating will be offered in the spring and summer, but the space also is being designed to seat as many as 19 guests indoors — post-pandemic — with self-guided flight options.
L’Ecole Nº 41 was just the third winery in the Walla Walla Valley and the 20th in Washington state when it opened. In addition to showcasing the valley’s history, there will be a family feel to the wine bar.
“The opportunity to ask our talented daughter, Rebecca Clubb-Olson, to design the space for us was exciting and rewarding, and she has done a beautiful job – striking a perfect balance, incorporating elements of our historic Schoolhouse and of our deep, enduring roots in our home Valley,” Marty Clubb said.
L’Ecole Nº 41 has been named by Wine & Spirits magazine 15 times as a Top 100 Winery in the world. In 2014, the London-based Decanter World Wine Awards — the globe’s most prestigious judging — voted L’Ecole’s 2011 Estate Ferguson Red Wine as the Best Bordeaux Blend in the World over £15. That same year, the Clubbs served as co-chairs for the 27th annual Auction of Washington Wines.
In 2016, the Six Nations Wine Challenge in Australia selected the 2013 Estate Ferguson as the Best New World Bordeaux Blend. Back in 2004, L’Ecole Nº 41 was named the Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year by Wine Press Northwest magazine.