June 2024 | Around the World, Events, General

Hospice du rhone – 2024

It all started with this email I received on October 24th 2023:

“Hello Severine Pinte,

Hospice du Rhône is pleased to invite Le Vieux Pin to pour in the Grand Tasting at Hospice du Rhône Walla Walla on Saturday, April 27, 2024.

The Grand Tasting will include over 125 domestic and international Rhône variety producers and importers, and international appellation representatives. Participation is by invitation only. 

Le Vieux Pin has been selected to share up to six wines with 1,000 attendees during the Grand Tasting on the final day of Hospice du Rhône Walla Walla.”

I immediately contacted my colleague Rasoul but I knew, deep in my heart, we would go…What an honour to be selected to participate in such a worldwide discovery of  Rhone varietal producers and the most famous in the world…

As a grower and a winemaker, we always seek to learn and observe how our peers are working, and how they are adapting to the different challenges from different regions. So Dave Marchand, winemaker at Lastella Winery, our sister winery, and I took on this Thursday Afternoon of April 25th.

Our journey took us through the beautiful backdrop of the Okanogan Valley just south of Osoyoos , then through the breathtaking Dry Falls area. A min version of the Grand Canyon, with basalt and lava columns replacing the red sedimentary rocks.

Our final stop for the day and the few days to come was the town and wine region of Walla Walla. To my surprise, there were no vineyards in sight, just fields and fields of dirt ready to be planted, most likely with crops like wheat, onions, and potatoes. We learned later on that a lot of grapes used to make the wines at the wineries in Walla Walla are coming from the nearby AVA such as Yakima Valley, Red Mountain, Columbia Valley…

The next day after a good night’s rest, Dave and I headed West towards the Red Mountain AVA. We had set an appointment with a few growers to understand their soil, their challenges and exchange. We were very well welcomed and were astonished by the terroir.

The small geographic region that comprises the Red Mountain AVA was formed by the repeated ice-age flooding of Glacial Lake Missoula over 10,000 years ago. The flood waters redesigned the landscape, configuring the soft mountain slopes and depositing nutrient-rich top soils over sand, silt and gravel. https://redmountainava.com/theava

After wandering around and stopping at a couple of wineries on our way back, we ended up in one of the many restaurants in Walla Walla: the Brasserie 4 where I had some Escargot! A little bit of French taste away from home 😊

Road trips are made for discovery: little did I know that Dave is a very in-depth connoisseur of Bourbon. Dave had also spent a few hours researching the best place to taste a good Bourbon and we ended up discovering some gems in Downtown Walla Walla.

And THE day came…Dave and I entered the massive custom crush that was hosting the Hospice du Rhone 2024

Hospice du Rhone is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the business conditions of the grape growers and wine producers of Rhône variety wines and grapes. The event, which has traditionally taken place in Paso Robles, with the first event taking place back in 1992, brought 1,000 attendees and 150 wineries from around the world to Walla Walla, for the first time ever and Le Vieux Pin winery from Oliver, British Columbia, Canada was the sole representation of Canada. (see Dave and I beside the stairs in the below picture. )

People who stopped at our table were impressed by the quality of the wines. We poured the Ava 2022, The Syrah Cuvee Violette 2022 and the Equinoxe Syrah 2019. Nothing makes me happier than to tell our story and share our passion. Dave and I took turns to taste some of the other wines from producers around the world and at my surprise, I met with Yves Gangloff owner of Domaine Gangloff. One of his Syrah, The Côte-Rôtie La Barbarine, was THE wine that stayed with me and guided me through my journey into winemaking and the memory of that wine is still with me.