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Beyond the Bottle 7/2008

"The rosé and riesling were music to my ears, as I was in search of picking up more of these wines now summer is in full swing. After tasting both, I bought two bottles of each and can't wait to enjoy these at my table soon."

While in Walla Walla over the Fourth of July, my father-in-law, Bob, a.k.a. Pappa Rosso, suggested I check out Trust Cellars. Then Catie, the Walla Walla Wine Woman, urged me to stop by as well. As a result, it quickly moved to the top of my list of wineries to see during that weekend.

The Trust Cellars winery and tasting room is just a short drive south from downtown Walla Walla. It is located in a small building situated on the outskirts of a sizable vineyard. Trust shares its tasting room with Chateau Rollat, another start up winery, which will be covered in a separate post soon.

Based on the visit I had, Trust Cellars merits being at the top of your list as well, for this is a winery that offers a terrific beyond the bottle experience (with no tasting fees!). The setting, the staff, and the stories all combined to make for an experience that connected me to the people and places behind Trust wines. And the credit goes to one person, Steve Brooks, the founder and winemaker.

On the Sunday I visited, Steve was in the tasting room pouring several wines, including an '07 cabernet franc rosé, '06 riesling, and '05 syrah. The rosé and riesling were music to my ears, as I was in search of picking up more of these wines now summer is in full swing. After tasting both, I bought two bottles of each and can't wait to enjoy these at my table soon.

But it was meeting Steve and hearing his stories that sold me on Trust Cellars more than anything else. It is always a treat when you have a winemaker working in the tasting room. And it's even better when meeting someone who has some great stories to tell about themselves as well as the wine they are pouring.

I asked Steve where his passion for wine originated. He shared a wonderful story about how his Italian-American parents in Ohio made basement wine from California grapes shipped out by rail each season. Steve also mentioned how his wife became a big influence on his understanding and appreciation for wine.

This led to a decision more than five years ago to leave a television career working at CNN in Atlanta to move to Walla Walla with his wife to start a new life in winemaking (see Paul Gregutt's profile).

It was in Walla Walla that Steve cut his teeth working as a cellar rat with a variety of local wineries including Long Shadows and Va Piano. I have no frame of reference on his skills in the television industry, but based on the wines I have tasted, Steve seems to have made a great decision to become a winemaker.

I came away from this visit truly inspired by the path Steve has taken to become a successful winemaker. As a result of hearing his stories, I now understand why Steve named his winery, Trust, and why he quotes Goethe on his web site.

"As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live".

I am glad Steve trusted himself, for he clearly knows how to live by making good wine and sharing great stories. I hope you're able to visit Trust Cellars soon and experience this for yourself.

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