A Discussion of Seven Hills Vineyard & Pepper Bridge Vineyard
Walla Walla Valley Overview
Geographically, the Walla Walla Valley is the southeast corner of the Columbia Valley appellation, straddling the Washington/Oregon state line. About the same size as the Napa Valley, Walla Walla is buttressed against the beautiful Blue Mountains on the east, Vansycle basalt ridge on the south, and rolling Palouse Hills to the north. The Walla Walla Valley is unique in its climate and geology. Warmer and windier than other parts of the Columbia Valley, Walla Walla is also heavily influenced by the Blue Mountains. The southwest prevailing winds that blow up the Columbia River rise over the Horse Heaven Hills and blow into the valley. Rainfall is minimal, with about 8 inches in the south and western portions of the valley, increasing to as much 20 inches in the northeast foothills of the Blues. Cool night-time air out of the Blue Mountains creates larger diurnal temperature differentials between day-time high and night-time low temperatures, often as much as 50°F , ideal for ripening fruit while preserving natural acidity.
Estate Seven Hills Vineyard ~ Home of Perigee
L’Ecole is a partner with Leonetti Cellar and Pepper Bridge Winery in the acclaimed Seven Hills Vineyard located in the south central portion of the Walla Walla Valley appellation. Approximately one-third of our red wine production comes from Seven Hills Vineyard. The vineyard was originally planted in 1981 and has been expanded to more than 230 acres, including Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Semillon, and Sauvignon Blanc. With an elevation of 900 – 1,100 feet, the site has excellent soil and air drainage and is one of the most technologically advanced in the industry. The vertically trained canopy, controlled cluster spacing, and sunlight exposure generate uniform fruit ripeness. Soil moisture is monitored daily by computer with sophisticated drip irrigation scheduled to augment vine development yet limit excessive canopy growth. Yields are strictly controlled to assure ultra-premium quality. The soils in this vineyard are in the Ellisford Series, which is a wind-blown glacial loess that is geologically young and rich in minerals. These vineyard features contribute significantly to wines’s characteristic rich elegance, earthy structure, seductive aromas and complex, silky finish. Seven Hills Vineyard was named by Wine & Spirits Magazine (Fall 2004) as one of “Ten Great Vineyards of the World!”.
We craft several vineyard-designate wines from Seven Hills- (Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a white Bordreaux-blend called Luminesce). Perigee is always comprised of our oldest and most distinguished blocks of fruit at this site.
Graph depicting the distance, elevation, and soils of Seven Hills and Pepper Bridge Vineyards
Pepper Bridge Vineyard ~ Home of Apogee
L’Ecole was the first winery to produce wines from Pepper Bridge Vineyard. The original 10 acre vineyard was planted in 1991 and has been expanded over the years to include almost 200 acres. Pepper Bridge Vineyard is located approximately 10 miles northeast of Seven Hills Vineyard. Closer to the Blue Mountains, it is cooler and wetter than Seven Hills, delaying harvest on Merlot by 10 days and often three weeks on Cabernet Sauvignon. At an 850 foot elevation, Pepper Bridge is planted on the terraced remnants of ice age flood deposits. The top three feet of soils are Walla Walla silt loam, which is a wind-blown, mineral-rich loess. Underneath this layer are rich sedimentary deposits from the numerous glacial floods that inundated the Walla Walla Valley during the end of the last ice age. The attributes of this vineyard contribute to wine’s characteristic bold and dark fruit flavors, rich structure, well-integrated tannins and long finish. L’Ecole has acreage contracts on 16 acres of vines, providing specifications on pruning, yield, canopy management, irrigation, thinning and harvest timing. Varietals include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec. We hand select our best blocks of fruit from this site each year to craft Apogee.
Both Seven Hills and Pepper Bridge Vineyards are Certified Sustainable and Certified Salmon Safe and are part of VINEA, a sustainable vineyard program tailored specifically to the micro-climate of the Walla Walla Valley. We utilize organic composts and earth compost tea to build soil health and nurture healthy vines, virtually eliminating the use of herbicides and pesticides.