How Echolands’ New Winery Fits Into Its Vision

Echolands Winery of Walla Walla plans to open their new Mill Creek facility in time for fall 2023.

The 341-acre site is located in the Mill Creek area of the Walla Walla Valley AVA in the foothills of the Blue Mountains, some of the highest elevations in Washington State. 

First announced in 2019, Mill Creek Road is the latest venture for co-owners Doug Frost, Master of Wine, Master Sommelier and Echolands CEO, and Conservationist Brad Bergman, who also own Taggart Vineyard in the SeVein Water Project. 

Mill Creek Road will house a dedicated winemaking, hospitality and barrel facility, and will assume all production for Echolands wines.

“From the outset, our new home in Mill Creek has impressed us as a special place to realize our vision for Echolands,” said Frost. “We’re surrounded by inspiring neighbors like Leonetti’s Mill-Creek-Uplands Vineyard, Aluvé, Walla Walla Vintners and Maurice, who have paved the way to make incredible wines at the higher elevations in Walla Walla. Planting in this higher, cooler site will enable us to continue in the style we’ve established, with moderate alcohols and higher acids. Our new plantings, facilities and equipment will fall in line with our commitment to balance development with a living biome.”

“We knew Mill Creek was special from day one,” says Chairman Brad Bergman. “The southeast exposure of the property is perfectly situated with sweeping views of the Blue Mountains and rolling wheat fields. It reminds me of Tuscany meets the Sound of Music. I come from a long line of environmentally conscious nursery owners with a commitment to beautifying the planet and preserving earth’s unique places. Our goal is to draw on the differences in terroir between Mill Creek, the SeVein and local growers to develop a unique range of wines that reflect this spectacular place.”

The development of Mill Creek Road is led by Soderstrom Architects and Mountain States Construction Company. As of fall 2023, production facilities will debut with a 27,000-square-foot winemaking facility and barrel room equipped with closed-top stainless steel fermentation vessels of varying sizes, as well as open-top bins and smaller fermenters with an initial production capacity of 10,000 cases. All fruit will be hand-sorted upon arrival. The principal Mill Creek development area will also feature a spectacular hospitality center centered around a public tasting room, cantilevered over the winery grounds and outfitted with glass walls that offer a breathtaking view of the Blue Mountains. Additional plans include a separate 5,000-square-foot storage facility. The opening date of the hospitality center will be announced later this year.

The unique character of the Mill Creek area was a driving factor behind the Echolands site selection. Previously planted to grains and other crops, the Mill Creek property has been owned by the same family since the early 1900s. The site extends over 341 acres from 1,400 to 1,800 feet. The soils are principally silt-loam over basaltic bedrock with depths up to 12 feet. Echolands plans to develop the first 25 acres of vineyard along ideal hillside exposures with select Bordeaux varieties. Echolands also sources grapes from their own 50-acre Taggart Vineyard in the SeVein Water Project, supplemented by purchased grapes from Les Collines Vineyard and other premier growers. As new plantings come of age, the Echolands team will balance the differences in terroir offered by Mill Creek, the SeVein Water Project and local growers.

The Mill Creek Road facility will adopt proven sustainability initiatives first practiced at the Echolands Taggart Vineyard. No more than half of Taggart’s total acreage was planted to preserve the remainder for biodiversity growth and a living biome, including owl boxes, beehives and native plants. Mill Creek’s natural assets include a high amount of rainfall that allows for dry farming without irrigation, a key element of responsible water management. Taggart was one of  the first vineyards to receive the “Sustainable Washington” certification, a designation that Echolands will also strive for at Mill Creek Road.

Frost originally envisioned acquiring the land he wanted and waiting until he had grown fruit suitable for his first vintage, but he ultimately took a different path, opting to make wine sooner. Since 2018, he’s been sourcing grapes and using a custom crush facility. 

He already has a couple of vintages under his belt. Having a relationship with a good crush facility can be a useful tool when getting started, Frost said.

“We appreciate this one because it’s all hands on, and it’s all controlled there,” Frost said. “They have staff that theoretically do all the work and control everything that happens in that space. 

“We’re allowed in the facility, and the process has worked in our favor.”

Echolands first tasting room in Walla Walla, Washington, opened in 2022 giving the winery a new means of interacting with its customers.

The tasting room at 7 West Alder Road is stationed in a space that was formerly a Quizno’s sandwich shop but underwent extensive renovations prior to opening.

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