Next Stop: Walla Walla

Pepper Bridge Winery, L’Ecole No. 41, Woodward Canyon, Dunham Cellars. Power House Theater, Marilyn Forever Blond, Marcus Whitman Hotel, Coyote Kings – filmed at Sapolil Cellars.
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00:00-00:04 JON: Welcome to Next Stop from the friendliest small town in America.
00:05-00:18 Next Stop Walla Walla rolls
00:19-00:42 JON: Walla Walla, located in SE Washington was just voted the friendliest small town in America by Rand McNally and the USA today, and they’ve got good reason to be friendly. The wine industry has absolutely exploded the past few decades, and the arts and cultural scene has followed suit. We’ll explore all of this and more on this episode of Next Stop from Walla Walla, a show full of pleasant surprises. And you’ll find out why I am donning a tux. Stay tuned, the fun starts now.
00:43-00:45 Next Stop logo
00:54-01:51 JON: Wine Spectator says Pepper Bridge is a vineyard name you need to know. Before we get to know the wines, let’s take you straight to the source, the vineyards. This is where it happens, right?
JEAN-FRANCOIS: Well this the uh, this is harvest. This is the work, or the fruit of your labor for one year for everybody. For the wine growers.
JON: Where you can actually say this is the fruit of our labor, and for the first it actually means something.
JEAN-FRANCOIS: Basically this is the paycheck of the growers after one year labor.
JON: This is incredible. These guys just, they all pulled up in their vans and boom, there just in the vineyards, picking, picking, picking. I noticed that your people got out of the van smiling, ready to work.
JEAN-FRANCOIS: This is the energy, it’s harvest, it’s awesome, everybody is excited.
JON: Let’s go get up close and personal with some of the grapes and you can show me what you look for.
JEAN-FRANCOIS: You see here, the seeds are pretty brown, so this is a good indication of ripeness but really, as simple as it looks, the taste. The flavors are ripe, pick it.
01:57-03:08 JON: Ok, so we’ve picked the grapes in the vineyard we’ve brought it back to Pepper Bridge, what it this?
JEAN-FRANCOIS: This is the processing area, so we get this first table up here where we unload the grapes and then it goes to this piece of equipment which takes the stem away, basically what it does it just detach the berries from the stem. And now this is our new toy here, and we have been very fortunate with this amazing company based in Walla Walla, shaking and optical sorting in the food industry all around the world. This is 3, 4 years later we can try a little wine.
JON: And 3, 5 hours later! We were in the vineyard a few hours ago, all the sorting, now the best.
JEAN-FRANCOIS: Now we are going to taste our 2008 merlot from Pepper Bridge winery. Our goal is really to make a wine that represents Walla Walla Valley, so…
JON: And this does well, this is nice. What should I be looking for in this one?
JEAN-FRANCOIS: Hey, you know what? Whatever you want.
JON: I like that answer, some people try to get really intricate, this is an oaky flavor with some daisy…
JEAN-FRANCOIS: Life is too short, just drink what you like, it could be 5 bucks, can be 100 bucks, just drink what you like.
JON: I like that.
03:11-03:14 Next Stop logo
03:15-03:33 JON: The name Walla Walla is of native American origin and means many waters. In the early 1800’s, fur traders established it as a trading post, and by the 1860’s, Walla Walla experienced the effects of the gold rush, with commercial, banking, and manufacturing activities. Following the gold rush, farming became the economic force behind this community, and continues as one today.
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03:37-03:44 JON: To be honored 10 years in a row by Wine and Spirits magazine as one of America’s top wineries, you must be pretty good. They’re better than good, they’re L’Ecole 41.
03:54- 05:16JON: Where better to learn about wines than in a schoolhouse.
MARTY: This area was called Frenchtown, and this is the old Frenchtown schoolhouse.
JON: And hence the name L’Ecole, which is the school, right?
MARTY: Exactly, and it was district number 41 so…
JON: L’Ecole 41
MARTY: You got it.
JON: You guys have won some huge awards, very prestigious.
MARTY: Yeah, we’ve done very well, Wine and Spirits did their top 100 wineries in the world, there were several wineries from Walla Walla, including Pepper Bridge and L’Ecole, but it was special for us, because it was our tenth award.
JON: Well let’s find out why.
MARTY: Alright, well this is a white blend, of, it’s a bordeaux white variety of sauvignon and sauvignon blanc and we call it Luminesce. You get this nice bright fruit, good citrus flavors, melon, pear, honeysuckle, nice food pairing wine, just a really pretty white bordeaux blend.
JON: This is perfect for a sunny day like today, the sun is shining.
MARTY: Perfect for me anyway.
JON: Cheers! So, rumor has it you’re actually going to put me to work.
MARTY: Well, that was our idea, we thought we should make you earn your keep.
JON: I think that’s fair. So what am I going to do?
MARTY: Well, we have a particular fermentation bin targeted for you to punch down.
05:21-05:40 JON: Ok, I know what these are Marty, but I don’t know what these are.
MARTY: Well, these are a bunch of metal bars we use to punch down the fermentation bins.
JON: These ones have holes in them, this one doesn’t.
MARTY: The holes are a little bit easier, maybe you need them.
JON: Let’s use this one. I’m not going to lie to you, I’m a little bit nervous here Marty.
05:52-06:13 MARTY: After you finish that bin, I’ve got another 20 or so for you to do.
JON: Uh, yeah, I’ll get right on that Marty. We normally start our day at school with a bell, but at L’Ecole 41, it’s how we end our day. Sweet.
06:14-06:16 Next Stop logo
06:17-06:21 JON: Coming up on Next Stop, more fabulous wines from Walla Walla wine country. Why not?
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06:34-08:36 JON: Woodward Canyon was the second winery in the Walla Walla valley, and we’re very honored to be joined by Rick Small, one of the founding fathers of Walla Walla wines, who’s got an amazing story, but let’s go back to 1981, what was happening here in Walla Walla?
RICK: OK, well you know I just returned from college a few years before that, five years at the university, and come back into the valley and there wasn’t much going on, there were restaurants, there were a lot of farmers but, you know, nobody was doing anything that was very much fun as far as agriculture.
JON: So how did you get started?
RICK: Well, you know Gary Figgans and I were good friends and we were in the army reserves together, we just kind of got into it. It just started Gary was into it, and it just kind of evolved, and I kind of got his passion and I just learned, and but it was a lot of fun, the journey to where we are now has been great, it’s just been fabulous.
JON: You must be so proud and excited at what is happening with Walla Walla wines all over the world right now.
RICK: I love the fact that at the end of the day it is still coming off family land.
JON: That’s the great story, and the sense of place that you have here because you grew up here, this is the wine, you grew up here, and you went to school there, next door, that is so cool.
RICK: Yep. It’s very, very cool. We used to play right where those grapevines are right now, there was a little baseball diamond out here, and there was a backstop and everything like that and the grass, it was such alkaline, no grass could even grow there, so we would play in this white dust.
JON: This is a picture of you right here.
RICK: Yeah, that is when I was in grade school, in first grade and on the baseball team, exactly, and I didn’t even have on socks, baseball socks, I mean we were lucky to have uniforms.
JON: One of the things that you employed in your everyday life is one of my moms and mine, is quality versus quantity, talk about that.
RICK: Well I think it’s the only way to do it for me anyway, just make smaller quantities, and let the quality of your product drive the demand. So we should do what we do best, in quality.
JON: You’ve clearly focused on quality, you’ve won some great awards.
RICK: The awards are nice, but at the end of the day, it’s what’s in the bottle that counts.
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08:42-08:58 JON: The story of the Walla Walla sweet onion began over a century ago, on the island of Corsica, off the west coast of Italy. It was there that a french soldier found an italian sweet onion seed and brought it back to the Walla Walla valley, today, Walla Walla sweet onions are known throughout the world as some of the sweetest, tastiest onions you’ll find.
08:59-09:01 Next Stop logo
09:02-09:15 JON: It’s harvest time in Walla Walla, we’re at Dunham Cellars where the passion is in the bottle, for a tour and a harvest lunch.
09:16-10:52 DANIEL: This is where the magic happens. So, we are currently involved in the latest harvest in Washigton State record which is not a bad thing, we are giving the grapes plenty of time to ripen up this year, and the excitement has started. So what we do, is after we are done crushing and stemming, we do a 24 hour ambient soak in each tank, we open the bottom valve on the tank, and just through gravity we have the wine fountain up, and it’s really light colored right now because literally, we just crushed the fruit yesterday, so the color has not completely extracted yet. So this does a couple things, one, it really aerates the wine which is helpful for the yeast. I mean, let’s face it, we are not wine makers, we are yeast shepherds, and so the trick is to make the healthiest environment for yeast as we can.
JON: I noticed that we are all holding our glasses like this, but you are holding your glass like this the whole time.
DANIEL: Ah, yes. Ok, so I actually went to school for wine drinking, wine making.
JON: I want to go to that school!
DANIEL: And so when you are a freshman, you grab the glass by the goblet, right? So then as a sophomore, you grab down here on the stem, and you think oh, ok, now I’ve arrived. Then you get to your junior year and you’re like, ok, I’m cool, whoa. And then, senior year, and then you graduate.
JON: So you are a junior?
DANIEL: Today I’m a junior. Well, then there is grad school where you just, give me the bottle.
11:00-11:42 JON: So we are at the harvest lunch, and you are Eric Dunham, I’m thinking you might have something to do with the winery.
ERIC: They bring me in to cook every once in a while, but in between that, we rock grape juice here.
JON: So what inspired you to start this?
ERIC: I grew up when there were only 2 wineries here and my role models had careers and made garage wine and hit it big so I kinda went that route to be able to afford to make wine.
JON: The passion is in the bottle, I read that on your website.
ERIC: When I got into the industry, I really wanted to be judged in a brown bag, I wanted to be judged by the quality, unperceived of the label. Our goal is to make wines that we love to drink, and the style is consistent every year and from some of the best vineyards in washington state.
JON: Cheers.
11:48-11:50 Next Stop logo
11:51-11:56 JON: Up next, a stunning theatrical performance in a world class hotel in Walla Walla.
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12:00-13:48 JON: The Powerhouse Theater located in downtown Walla Walla is 120 year old building that used to supply power to the city. Tonight, it supplies world class entertainment. Tonight, Walla Walla came out in swarms, looking very good mind you, for Marilyn Forever Blonde, the third performance at the Powerhouse Theater which has just taken the city by storm. It wasn’t always a theater though.
HARRY: It used to be a gas plant before electricity was invented. It took about 2 ½ months to rebuild the whole inside and we built the interior so it touched the building in very few spots, so we didn’t sandblast, or change the old building at all. So this is a duplicate of Shakespeare’s theater that he built for himself.
JON: This town is so excited for Marilyn Forever Blond, and Greg wrote it, produced, directs, this was your baby.
GREG: No, I didn’t direct it, you don’t direct your wife, it’s impossible.
JON: I was going to ask you about that.
GREG: It’s like teaching to play golf, or teaching them to drive.
JON: Everything that Sunny says as Marilyn, are things that Marilyn actually said, where did you find all this material?
GREG: Well, I wrote this before the internet, this was about late 80’s you know, so I got all these books on Marilyn, I had my office write down all the quotes on 3 by 5 cards and then I scooped them up and I sent them back and they typed them up, and I went, you know that could be a play and then I worked on it, and then I couldn’t find anyone to do the part so I waited 20 years to get someone to do it and then I had to marry her to do the part.
JON: I’m blown away by Sunny and her performance and usually we film performances, but tonight we actually we got to sit back and enjoy it, but yesterday we actually did get the pleasure of connecting with Sunny and meet this wonderful lady.
13:49-16:01 JON: What I love about this production is that your husband Greg wrote it word for word in Marilyn’s words, and he was telling us earlier today, he says you may not agree with this that he made you a deal, he said that he’d marry you if you took the part because he had been looking for the right actress for 20 years to play the part, is that true?
SUNNY: He keeps telling people these lies!
JON: Tell us the truth, set us straight.
SUNNY: The truth is, we were in Vegas, I was doing Marilyn, and I put on the short wig, and he said I’ve never thought of you as Marilyn before, but when you do Marilyn it’s pretty convincing, you need to read my play. We were not married at the time, I read the play, said no way, because nobody, no woman should have to be compared to Marilyn Monroe, that’s just not even fair. And then we were married, and the nagging just would not stop.
JON: Do the part!
SUNNY: Do the part, do the part, read a scene
AS MARILYN: Boop Boop dee doo. He loved it, his eyes popped out. I remember he made this joke off screen, he said ‘Young lady, you are a case of arrested development. With your development, somebody’s bound to get arrested’
JON: It’s been said that you do an amazing job channeling Marilyn from the dead before your performances, what do you go through to become Marilyn?
SUNNY: Well I spend 2 ½ hours in makeup, I turn on some frank Sinatra music of her era, and that sort of, at the end of the 2 ½ hours, being prepared and surrounded by pictures of her in my dressing room and hearing Frank Sinatra sing, imagining them going out, maybe she is getting ready for a date with him, it sort of transports me back to that era.
JON: What do you want us to take from your performance?
SUNNY: Well, I think what I have learned from it is that, be careful what you wish for. Marilyn’s taught me a lesson and I hope the play teaches that lesson, is to honor those around that are close to you, because she didn’t have those people.
AS MARILYN: He didn’t like girls with brains. I told him that was the nicest compliment I’ve ever had.
SUNNY: So be careful what you wish for, fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to me.
16:03-16:05 Next Stop logo
16:07-18:01 JON: We’ve encountered many pleasant surprises here in Walla Walla, and none as pleasant as the Marcus Whitman Hotel. Completely surprised all of us to have a property like this in Walla Walla Washington, it’s world class.
KYLE: It is, it’s top of the Mark, Jon.
JON: And you did this right?
KYLE; Well, many people before me did this, but I was the person that did the entire renovation back in 1999 and 2000, 2001.
JON: And the rooms are a little bit unique, I’m in a suite which is beautul, but there is different types of rooms, describe the rooms for us.
KYLE: In our historic tower we have 52 guest rooms, so we have wonderful 2 room luxury suites, we have what we call our executive tower king rooms, and then in our west wing a lot of king rooms, double queen rooms, and some junior suites over there for our guests
JON: So there is something for everybody. I’ve noticed that everybody is smiling, all your employees are happy, you have a really good staff.
KYLE: Thank you for noticing, and it is true, we work very hard with not just our hiring process, but also you know, this is our extended family.
JON: This town is just ready to explode, you just feel it, it has it with the wineries, the Powerhouse Theater and the Marilyn Forever Blond show, this must be really exciting times here in Walla Walla.
KYLE: You know it certainly is, and I think it has exploded. Got such a great vibe and energy that, and it grows every year, it just gets better and better every year. It’s as exciting as heck.
JON: And you can tell that everybody is really excited to be here too, I’ve talked to people that have moved here from New York, Chicago and they just really love it here, and there is so much going on.
KYLE: Yeah, the folks you meet, we’re very passionate about what we do, very proud about our community and really love our quality of life here a very unique quality of life and it’s what has kept me here.
JON: So tonight is going to be fun, we are bringing all of our friends we have met from the four wineries this week and we are going to pair their wines tonight with Antonio’s food.
KYLE: They had some fresh scallops in there earlier they were preparing for tonight, so I’m pretty excited, it’s time to go eat.
JON: Let’s go.
18:05-18:50 ANTONIO: We always shuck the scallops ourselves, we got them in live, so scallop shells with a roasted pumpkin puree and then here’s the fresh scallops that we shucked right her, Grant seared them all perfectly with a little bit of butter. This is one of those dishes, there’s some cold, there’s some hot, there’s some warm, try a little bit of everything at the same time with the port, it’s going to need all the flavors to kind of come together.
JON: Those scallops were incredible.
ANTONIO: Yeah, you liked those?
JON: The sauce was amazing. What else are you going to make for us tonight?
ANTONIO: We have chilean sea bass we’re going to poach for you guys tonight, and make a parmesan infused olive oil and we are going to do a real nice spin on pumpkin cake and salted caramel ice cream for dessert.
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19:08-19:13 JON: Coming up on Next Stop Walla Walla, local band Coyote Kings.
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19:17-19:45 JON: So we mentioned in the intro of the show that the wine scene is blowing up here which means arts and culture follow. The music scene is actually blowing up as well, we’ve got Robin here with Coyote Kings who’s going to be our music segment tonight.
ROBIN: We actually put our first band together in Walla Walla in 1977. I know I don’t look that old.
JON: What were you, two?
ROBIN: Close.
JON: Let’s look at your shoes though man, I love your duds, look at this guy, he’s dressed he’s dressed for the court tonight.
20:09-20:48 JON: Tell us about your music
ROBIN: Well, we call it rockin bluesin, and bluesy rock, smokin hot. So we kind of mix everything from a little bit of funk, a little bit of classic R&B thrown in.
20:49- 21:20 JON: Walla Walla is such a cool place, what do you love most about Walla walla?
ROBIN: It’s quiet but it is starting to get so much more to do. All week there is music someplace, and on the weekends there is music all over the place.
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21:25-21:51 JON: Thanks for tuning into Next Stop from Walla Walla Washington, a town that lives up to it’s billing as the friendliest small town in America. We made some amazing new friends on this show so thanks to each of you for your participation in making this a great show. Kyle and Brenda, we love you and we love the Marcus Whitman, and we can’t wait to come back and hang out with you. We also love our title sponsors, Alaska Airlines and the Alaska Airlines visa signature card, so thanks to you for your partnership. We’ll see you next time on Next Stop, where will we take you next? Make good memories everybody.
Credits roll