One of my favorite areas in Walla Walla is the Pepper Bridge area. We often will taste at North Star, Pepper Bridge, Sleight of Hand or Saviah Cellars. So I was very excited to try Balboa Winery. Even though this winery was founded in 2006, I had never heard of it. They have small production mostly from vineyards in the Rocks District.
We had our dog, Angel, with us and so we opted to sit outside and do our tasting. We always share a tasting as one of us is driving. We purchase bottles that we like to enjoy later. The setting is lovely. There is beautiful fencing made with barrel rings and really gorgeous barns and fields. They also served us a bottle of water to share.
On this particular day our server was Eva. Unfortunately, Eva was phoning it in that day. She was not really telling us much about the wines that we were trying or about the winery itself. I finally resorted to looking up information on their website.
Our first taste was a “Bonus Pour” of 2021 Balboa Gruner Veltliner. It is a white grape primarily grown in Austria, Hungry, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. I had tried this grape previously at Dr Konstantin Frank Winery in the New York Finger Lakes region. This grape is grown 100% on their property. I felt the taste ( a bit peppery) was very different than the bouquet which was cedar and herbs. $25/bottle
2022 Sparkling Rose – We were not told the type of grape and when I looked it up on line there was no information. For me, it had an odd finish – almost metallic. It also tasted like the carbonation was forced. $30/bottle
2017 Cabernet Franc – This was okay. It had a bit of tobacco and stone fruit. The finish was a bit chalky. But it had a lot of body – legs for miles. $45/bottle
2017 Carmenere – I am a fan of Carmenere and this was pretty good. It had a bit of white pepper and a bold mouth-feel. $50/bottle
2017 Sangiovese – This is 100% estate grown. This was a bold Sangiovese and would hold up well with heavier food such as a red sauce. $40/bottle
2016 Grenache – A classic grenache with flavors of ripe fruit – blackberry, cherry and a bit of vanilla. Unfortunately, I didn’t love it. $55/bottle
While Balboa Winery is a lovely spot for a tasting I really didn’t enjoy it. It could have been my palette that day, the server’s attitude or just that the wines are a bit too minerally for my taste. A tasting flight is $15 for 5 current releases and 1 library pour. The fee is waived if you spend $100 in wine purchases. Even though we had shared a tasting we were charged $30. By the time we realized this it wasn’t worth going back to ask for a correction.
Susan’s Score – This would be a SKIP IT for me. There are so many fabulous wineries in the surrounding area that I wouldn’t put Balboa Winery on my dance card.