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Photo by Alison Stein Wellner

on a golden weekend in late fall, my husband and i met some friends in walla walla, washington, for a wine-tasting weekend. a pair of our close friends from college recently moved to the other side of the state, and so we were excited to take the opportunity to see them. in fact, they found a lovely rental home–with three big screen tvs, a pool, hot-tub and a giant kitchen (where we prepared lovely breakfasts and a family style pork-chop dinner). they even brought their friendly dog, miss bailey, and we adopted two of the neighborhood kittens who settled in with us for the weekend.

my father was born in walla walla, and we are somehow related to the mayor of this little town. that being said, i was so impressed with how fun and cute downtown was. being a college town overrun with “vititourism,” there were lovely places to lunch, a million tasting rooms, adorable boutiques and gourmet cooking stops. after a dip in the hot tub, good night’s sleep in a luxurious king size bed, we shared a breakfast of vegetable scrambled eggs, scones with orange-whiskey marmalade, and fruit. then we were ready to hit the wineries.

tertulia means “circle of friends” in spanish–so it was appropriate that we made tertulia cellars the first stop on our friend-wine-weekend. the winery was lovely and we had the opportunity to watch the grape pressing. being our first tasting of the day, we weren’t sure how much to buy, but i walked off with a bottle of the2009 columbia valley rosé du mourvédre. we later shared it with our family, paired with a german meal that featured sauerbraten and it was even better than i remembered! what really made the winery for me–especially after a day of tastings–was how friendly the staff were. their friendly, and down to earth manner, made me feel comfortable and welcome. the fact that their wines were outstanding helped too, though.

in the end, tertulia cellars was my favorite winery, it was a lovely setting. michelle in the tasting room was extremely helpful. and she clearly loves what she does–her love of viticulture was infectious and it made me love the wine even more. the wines were amazing. my only regret was that we didn’t buy more! since it was our first winery we were “saving ourselves.” fortunately we were able to order them through our wine steward back home.

my second favorite winery of the day was in town–or rather, the tasting room was. dama wines is owned and run by two friends whose love of wine and adventure brought them together to produce some delicious wines with a touch of fashion glam. the wine was delicious but i love the artwork on their  labels.

photos courtesy of DaMa wines

the pinch of glam made dama a really fun wine experience. the owners were running the tasting room in town, and they carried beautiful jewelry and other artwork created by their friends. i paired the rosé i bought with a pair of copper and ruby crystal pearl earrings, which i loved so much, i wore them for a week straight. they were excited about the wines, and what they do–and they themselves presented with a touch of fashion glam.

i guess it was a rosé kind of weekend. but that was perfect for those long days between summer and winter–warm but not uncomfortable, and the air is clean and crispy. the leaves are a bright, beautiful backdrop. we walked around town and stopped for lunch at the olive market place & cafe. we three couples ordered 3 italian-style thin-crusted pizzas. we ordered a white anchovy margherita; a pear, pine nut, and goat cheese pizza; and a fig prosciutto pizza. delicious! (my husband later copied the pear pizza with great success.)

we later got home, a little worn out from power wineing, and got busy making dinner. we made a huge dinner–roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, grilled pork chops, grilled-buttered corn, quinoa salad–and more that i’m surely forgetting–topped off with the dama rosé and roasted pineapples. one hint to remember: the colder the rosé gets, the more delicious it becomes.

we drove home the next morning feeling good about our weekend, and happy to see our friends. it was a wonderful trip!