Veteran Walla Walla winemakers offer Spanish, Italian varieties at their tasting room
DOUG MCCREA AND GINO CUNEO never planned to land in Walla Walla. Yet the veteran winemakers have joined forces to bring their considerable talents to a dynamic downtown tasting room.
Both opened their wineries in 1989 — McCrea in Washington and Cuneo in Oregon — but now they have different wineries than they started with.
McCrea launched McCrea Cellars and focused on Rhône varieties long before they became fashionable. Thanks to high-end syrahs and blends, McCrea gained near-cult status in the 1990s and early 2000s.
But the Recession hit the ultrapremium wine market hard in 2009, and McCrea Cellars — jointly operated by McCrea and his ex-wife — struggled.
In the meantime, McCrea started Salida as a side project, with a focus on Spanish varieties. Today, Salida is his top priority.
Cuneo, meanwhile, started out making pinot noir. But his Italian heritage nudged him toward grapes such as nebbiolo and sangiovese.
In 2001, he took on partners and built a beautiful winery in Carlton, Ore. But after disagreements with his partners, Cuneo was pushed out of his winery, now called Cana’s Feast.
In 2008, he started over and launched g. Cuneo Cellars. In 2011, he moved to Walla Walla, and in 2014, he opened a tasting room across the street from the Marcus Whitman Hotel. About a year ago, he called McCrea, and the two decided to share the space.
Because both focus on grapes from “Latin Europe,” they call it the Latin Corner — it’s at the corner of Second Avenue and Rose Street.
Cuneo wines are sold only at the tasting room; Salida is available in top Seattle-area wine shops, as well as on select restaurant lists.
If you’re heading to Walla Walla for Spring Release Weekend (May 6-8), put the Latin Corner on your itinerary and taste wine with a couple of Northwest legends.
Special to the Seattle Times. Andy Perdue is a wine author, journalist and international judge. Learn more about wine at greatnorthwestwine.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.