"Force Majeure,” meaning to give one's very best effort.
Pushing the boundaries. Many people push the envelope to see how much they can get away with or to make a big stir. Others can't help it. They are filled with an inner pull, a demand, to be innovative, pioneering, and take risks for a greater goal.
Taking the leap from tech life in Southern California to wine making, Paul and Susan McBride choose the Walla Walla, Washington, region for their new venture. Together these trailblazers are crafting world class wines.
Hospitable, easy going, and visionary, the McBrides have vineyards in the Rocks District AVA and the Red Mountain AVA. Force Majeure crafts beautiful Syrah, Viognier, Cabernet Franc and more.
Their newest acquisition is a of a piece of land the locals call “The North Fork.” Instead of planting more vines on the valley floor, this parcel is located on a steep hill within a canyon. The site was part of a geological survey that showed its suitability for growing wine grapes.
The rise in elevation provides more moderate weather than the valley, with slightly warmer mornings with less frost, and cooler afternoons. Its ideal climate and growing conditions spoke to the McBrides and their winemaking team.
Force Majeure offered a tour to WBC attendees. It began with their forthcoming production site currently being built. Next came the drive up to their the North Fork property. Winemaker Todd Alexander was brought on from Bryant Family Vineyard in the Napa Valley. He shared about the slope and plan for the vineyard. Standing on the place of someone's dream in process is a breathtaking experience. It felt real, raw, and genuine.
The tour continued with a tasting and lunch hosted by the owners and winemaker at a local venue. Seven wines were tasted prior to the food. I like these tasting best! I prefer the real flavors and mouth-feel of the wines without the flavors and textures of food.
Wines that called out to me were:
Chef Andrae Bopp of Andrae's Kitchen catered the buffet lunch which paired perfectly with the wines.
When things change in a region, it gets people's attention. The Northwest's wine production isn't slowing down. And the Walla Walla Valley AVA is getting noticed thanks, in part, to Force Majeure, who is pushing the boundaries with the goal of showing the wines the region can produce.
Force Majeure plants their own vines in a region when wine is typically sourced from large growers. They produce single vineyard-designated wines. And they are intentionally planting on the North Fork hills; something not typically done in the area. Most people think the site is too steep, too remote, and not easy to tend.
With aim, they are striving to put the Rocks District, the Red Mountain, and North Fork wine areas on the minds and palates of wine fans around the globe.
Living next to the Santa Cruz Mountains,
we are used to vineyards clinging the steep slopes of the mountains.
But in Walla Walla, the McBrides are spearheading changes.
It's a risk. It takes more labor, time, and expense, and it's difficult to tend the sloping, new site.
Susan shared, “I can say, 'I staked those posts, I planted those vines.'”
Their kids have helped and camped out at the vineyard.
From soil to glass, the personal investment and love put into Force Majeure shows.
With a potential for Walla Walla to be a world class wine region, the McBrides also are establishing a legacy for their family. Wholeheartedly jumping in with both feet,
they hope to keep the vineyards for their kids for years to come--
and take care of them like their kids.
Thank you, Force Majeure, for the wonderful experience!
Here's to your next wine jaunt and discovering new wine regions.
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