A winery in southern Walla Walla County is opening a new tasting room in downtown Spokane thanks to a wine tasting that impressed a Spokane hotelier.
Va Piano Vineyards, a family winery, will join several other wineries with tasting rooms near the Davenport Hotel and is expected to open in March.
For owners Justin and Liz Wylie, their expansion into Spokane is something of a homecoming.
Both of them graduated from college here.
Winemaker Justin Wylie is a 1996 business and marketing graduate of Gonzaga University and fourth-generation Walla Walla resident.
Liz Wylie got her degree in recreation from Eastern Washington University in 1993. She grew up in the Everett area.
“We are more than excited,” Liz Wylie said last week.
Their decision to open a tasting room in the Davenport came almost by chance.
Davenport owner Walt Worthy was with a group of wine enthusiasts who stopped at Va Piano to taste wines. Worthy got a private tour from Justin Wylie.
“The two just hit it off,” Liz Wylie said.
On the spot, Worthy offered a deal to the Wylies to get them into a small commercial space adjacent to the Davenport entrance on First Avenue, she said.
“It’s such a beautiful building,” she said.
Va Piano Vineyards, with 20 acres, opened in 2005. It is nestled in rolling hills southwest of Walla Walla near the Oregon state line.
The area is home to 15 or more well-regarded wine labels, including Sleight of Hand, Saviah, Basel, North Star, Amavi and Pepper Bridge wineries.
Liz Wylie said the proximity of several other tasting rooms near the Davenport is a plus for her business.
“It makes it perfect to have five or six tasting rooms,” she said.
The others near the Davenport are Cougar Crest, Patit Creek and Lake Roosevelt wineries. Nodland Cellars is preparing a tasting room on the ground floor of the Chronicle Building just west of the Davenport.
The Wylies take grapes from various Washington locales, including their own estate rows, which were planted as early as 1999. The land had previously grown fruit and chickpeas.
Justin Wylie spent a school year in 1994 and 1995 at Gonzaga’s campus in Florence, Italy, where he became friends with Father Bruno Segatta.
The name Va Piano is Italian, which is taken from the phrase, “Chi va piano, va sano e va lontano,” which means “he who goes slowly goes safely and goes far.”
The Walla Walla facility is built in the Tuscan style, and the wines are crafted with an eye to the Tuscan style of winemaking.
A group of Va Piano wines is named after Segatta and features artwork from Segatta on the label. Some of the proceeds from the “Father Bruno” wines go to charity.
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