Liquid Spirit of the Walla Walla Valley
Walla Walla, Washington, is much more than a fun town to say out loud. The unique features of the area give the valley an amazing agricultural bounty. Our team from Walla Walla Brews Cruise has put together an overview of just some of the delights that can be found in the area. Learn why this fertile region in the Pacific Northwest gives us Pastures of Plenty.
In his 1941 trip across the Northwest, folk hero Woody Guthrie descended from the Blue Mountains of eastern Washington to discover a bountiful America in the Walla Walla Valley and Columbia River Gorge: orchards and vineyards, hopyards and wheat fields.
Guthrie’s song, “Pastures of Plenty” foregrounds the migrant labor on which our region has always depended for sustenance.
It’s always we rambled, that river and I
All along your green valley, I will work till I die
My land I’ll defend with my life if it be
Cause my pastures of plenty must always be free
-Woody Guthrie Pastures of Plenty (1941) Listen here
Walla Walla is well known for its sweet onions and wine, but it’s also home to plentiful craft beer and cider. Alongside thousands of acres of vineyards are century-old wheat fields and orchards stretching across the valley.
Generations of wheat farmers have made their home in Walla Walla and now support a growing community of brewers.
Out of the 1860s Boise Basin Gold Rush in Idaho rose a brewery industry that spread west to Walla Walla.
From steam beer to lager (the late 19th-century beer of choice) to a modern range that includes crisp pilsners, Belgium-style malty beers, caramel ales, and hoppy IPAs, regional delights are crafted from locally sourced hops.
Learn more on our Wicked Wheat tour.
The deep farming heritage of the valley includes nearly 3,000 acres of vineyards across elevations ranging from 400 to 2,000 feet. To the east, along the foothills of the Blue Mountains, annual rainfall might be 22 inches compared to 7 inches at the western valley edge.
Soil and climate variability across the Walla Walla Valley AVA (designated by the federal government in 1984 to include land in both Oregon and Washington) make for a regional character typified by reds: Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Grenache, Petit Verdot, Tempranillo, and Malbec.
Leave the rain of your Northwest imaginary behind to enjoy the mild, dry and sunny weather of eastern Washington, where you can cruise along rolling hills flanked by amber waves of grain, sip your favorite varietal or try new ones in view of the Blues.
You can also come to understand the complicated history of white settlement to the region at the Whitman Mission Museum and Tamastslikt Cultural Institute in down the road in Pendleton, Oregon.
Check out our Milling About tour.
Get a Taste of the Area
The people behind the Walla Walla Brews Cruise tours are Brent and Suzanne. Brent is a Walla Walla native and retired firefighter. Suzanne is a transplant from the Finger Lakes region of Central New York and has lived in Walla Walla for two decades.
When not driving the tour bus, Suzanne is an anthropology professor at Whitman College. Whitman College occupies a place named Walawála, the original placename for the valley “which is bisected by numerous streams,” and a village named Pásx̣apa, “the place of the balsamroot sunflower.”
These are the traditional lands of the Walúulapam (Walla Walla), Weyíiletpuu (Cayuse) and Imatalamláma (Umatilla) peoples who were forcibly removed by the Treaty of 1855.
Through practices of settler colonialism, some lands promised by the treaty were later stolen, yet the treaty and subsequent legal victories upheld enduring tribal sovereignty in these lands.
~ Suzanne Morrissey, Walla Walla Brews Cruise
Jump on a tour with Walla Walla Brews Cruise and sample craft beer and cider at an ever-expanding number of outstanding breweries throughout the valley. All of the tours are knowledge-based and give guests a behind-the-scenes look at production from grain to glass. Learn more at brewscruise.com/wallawalla