I tasted this Bordeaux-style red blend from one of the best Walla Walla wineries along with over two dozen other food, wine and travel writers. We converged from all over the US via Zoom to taste the 2018 Eleanor Estate Red Blend from Caprio Cellars in Walla Walla, Washington. Here’s what we had to say about this superb wine…
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How do you taste wine virtually via Zoom, you wonder? With overnight shipping, it’s actually pretty easy. Caprio Cellars, one of the best wineries in Walla Walla, sent each of us a bottle of the red blend. Then during the Zoom call, we could swirl, smell and sip in the comfort of our own homes. Learn how you, too, can do the same thing later in this article.
First, let me introduce you to our host for the wine affair, Dennis Murphy.
Meet Dennis Murphy, Owner of One of the Best Walla Walla Wineries
Meet Dennis Murphy, the owner of Caprio Cellars, one of the Best Walla Walla wineries. I’d say that the love of his grandmother, Eleanor Caprio, shaped his life and business. That’s because when the successful entrepreneur bought his first piece of land to plant grapevines in the southeast corner of Washington, he named the vineyard Eleanor after her. And then, once the first wines were bottled, he called the operation Caprio Cellars.
Soon you’ll read what all those International Food Wine and Travel (IFWTWA) writers had to say, but let’s take a look at the story behind the wine.
Eleanor’s parents brought the dolce vita—the sweet life—from Capri, Italy, to the US. They continued sharing the daily ritual of drinking great wine and breaking bread with others. So like his Italian forbearers, Dennis believes in the transformative power of hospitality and generosity. It’s in his blood!
Consequently, when he and his team created a space for the social experience of sharing wine, they knew that a food component was necessary. “It’s because of my grandmother that we have a food program. She would be really upset if we didn’t feed you,” says Dennis, who is a civil engineer by training and owns successful construction corporations in Washington. Today, the Caprio Cellars crew is are known for their unparalleled hospitality.
Greeted with bubbles at the door
“We greet you with bubbles at the door—they are proprietary bubbles. You pick a spot to sit, inside or outside whatever is your desire. And then we proceed to put you through a customer journey that is pretty delightful,” Dennis smiles.
Expect the unexpected at Caprio Cellars Tasting Room
“Because Dennis is a builder of homes, the winery feels this like a home inside. You can lounge near the fireplace, and there are different seating areas and think of it as a home away from home,” says Cori Solomon, who broadcast the webinar live from Caprio Cellars along with Dave Nershi of IFWTWA..
Dennis designed and built the comfortable facility as a hybrid tasting room to hold only 20 guests at a time. Each group enjoys privacy in their own little piece of space in the 2400 square feet structure, which is two or three times the size of the average tasting room in the Walla Walla valley.
Caprio Cellars facility in the magnificent Walla Walla countryside includes a full-time chef and sous chef in the kitchen and a menu showcasing local farmers that changes every two weeks.
A different philosophy
“I wanted to create a wine experience like none other,” says Dennis. “From the start, we have been ‘appointment only,’ which played well into COVID. But [the start] was well before COVID. We curate a 90-min experience to delight our guests. We take four different time slots per day with a max of 20 people.” All wine tastings include food pairings.
“I would like to delight 80 people a day than have 200 people came through and say, well that was OK.”
Some of the over 400 5-star Google reviews describe the experience as: “exceptional,” “fabulous” and “not like any other.”
“We don’t have a tasting fee and we don’t charge for our food pairings,” says Dennis. “Most people think I’m crazy. …It’s based on equity theory, I’ll do something nice for you—you do something nice to for me, and then we can pay it forward to the next guest.”
2018 Eleanor Estate Red Blend from one of the Best Walla Walla wineries
The 2018 Eleanor Estate Red Blend is a blend of 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 15% Malbec and 7% Cabernet Franc, making it a Bordeaux-style red wine. Here are the tasting notes from my wine writer colleagues at the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA.)
“For some, it is a weekly drinker; for others, it’s a celebratory wine celebratory wine, but either way, my goal is that you open it and you enjoy it,” says Dennis.
See what I have to say in the tasting notes below…
IFWTWA Writers Tasting Notes
Susan Manfull of Provence WineZine “It is so lovely I would describe it as a quietly confident wine. It’s very nicely balanced. It is exceptionally pleasant with lots of dark fruit, maybe cherry, on the nose… and blackberry on the palate.
Scott Kendall of PlayStayEat.com “The biggest compliment that I can give is two nights ago was our anniversary. We had a nice Amarone with our steak, but now I wish we would have opened this a little early. It would have been a perfect pairing with the fillet. The Eleanor, definitely you do that right.”
Lisa Morales of Lisa Morales Photography I love this because it is reminding me of the Haut-Medoc and Saint Julien in Bordeaux. I’m getting all of that acid from the Malbec and the Cabernet Franc, but I’m tasting the few 100-degree days that you got. That really gave you that ripening on the cabernet and Merlot that’s going to bring in the residual sugar. I think this is really going to hold for you for a good while. 10 – 15 years?
Andrew Harris of SolCal Restaurant Show “I love the fruit that is in it. I like the light tannins, and I think it’s a very well-balanced wine, and I’m looking forward to pouring another glass.”
Sue Montgomery of Lifeuncorked.com This is a beautiful wine, and we happen to be tasting it with goat cheese and brownies… I’m not a big tannin fan, and so the light tannins are appealing to me.”
Linda Milks of Toasting Food, Wine & Travel “I think, ‘Yum!’ It reminds me of the ones I tasted in Bordeaux. I think you’ve definitely hit that target. I do like the acidity, and I do think it has a long finish to it too.”
Stacey Wittig of UNSTOPPABLE Stacey Travel “Dennis, thank you so much for sending me this wine. I am a Bordeaux fan, so I’m really enjoying this. It is as well balanced as you promise. You mentioned that your goal was that whoever opened this bottled wine would love it. And so your goal was met tonight with me for sure. If I could afford this wine every night, I would be drinking it every night.
More IFWTWA Writers Tasting Notes
Pam Baker of PamandGaryBaker.com “We had the pleasure of meeting Dennis in July. We came home with the 2016 Eleanor. It was my favorite of all the wines we tasted.”
Gary Baker of PamandGaryBaker.com “We found it to be an eloquent Bordeaux, a blend of the four red varietals… Its color is showing deep and supple berry tones. The aroma with accents I found of plum and currant on the nose. And in terms of mouthfeel, a taste of crushed blackberries, offering some length and fluidity on the palate, as well as yielding some firm tannins with mouth coating finish.”
Jo-Anne Bowen of Journeys With Jo-Anne Joanne “I love the full-bodied red and the smoothness. I love it that it honors his grandmother… I just came back a month ago from a four-night hosted trip to Walla Walla, but I’m very interested in coming back and visiting Caprio Cellars.”
Athena Lucero of Athena Lucero Travels “We went Diane Keaton and chilled it… It’s a beautiful bold blend, and we loved it!”
Cori Solomon of The Written Palette “David and I got to taste the 2016 Eleanor, and although the blend is a little different—there’s more Merlot which gives it a little more softness. So this is what I’m buying while I’m up here.”
Robin Dohrn-Simpson I’ve been swirling and swirling, and it’s opening up lovely in the past six minutes. I was thinking it was going to be a little bit more tannic like other wines that I’ve tasted from that area, but it’s not. It’s a really nice blend. You can tell the Malbec in there. I’m really enjoying this.
Jeanine Consoli “I want to echo a little bit what Robin said. I let it open up a little bit, and then it just was so beautiful the way it opened up. I love the color. I taste raspberries, and I love that it’s a little peppery, a little spicy. I’ve never been to Walla Walla, but I love Bordeaux. … So, maybe I’ll take an RV and hook up. Cheers!
If you visit the tasting room, make sure to taste the 2018 Eleanor Estate Red blend if they have any left! Regardless, you’ll be treated to Caprio Italian Meatballs, Grandma’s own recipe, of course! Served with pancetta, tomato ragu, parmesan and grilled crostini.
Swirl, Smell and Sip in the Comfort of Your Own Home
So, as promised earlier, here’s how to swirl, smell and sip in the comfort of your own home: Simply order the wine from Caprio Cellars here. Why wait to visit? Order the 2018 Eleanor Estate Red Blend online now: capriocellars.orderport.net
When you visit the best Walla Walla wineries, make sure to put Caprio Cellars on your list! It’s on our Best Walla Walla Wineries list!
The winery is located on the south side of Walla Walla near the Oregon border.
Open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. by reservation only.
As is common in the travel industry, UNSTOPPABLE Stacey was provided with wine for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the Arizona travel writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.
In addition, this blog, UNSTOPPABLE Stacey Travel, contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, Stacey earns a commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help reduce the costs of keeping this travel blog active.
Further, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Thanks for reading.
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