Category Archives: The Tasting Room Radio Program

The Tasting Room Presents Justin Vajgert Of Reininger Winery

Wine Guy Mike

Wine Guy Mike

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This week The Tasting Room presents Justin Vajgert of Reininger Winery in the Walla Walla Valley AVA.  Today’s guest is  Justin Vajgert, National Brand Sales Manager for the Reininger Winery and Helix wines. Today’s Podcast Click Here 

Justin Vajgert of Reininger Winery and Helix Wines

Justin Vajgert of Reininger Winery and Helix Wines

Justin and I are talking about the Walla Walla Valley area in Washington State and its wine. Walla Walla officially became an American Viticulture Area in 1984 but it was settled by Italian immigrants in the 1850’s who realized its potential to grow grapes. Chuck Reininger is the owner and head winemaker at Reininger Winery but first I want to give you a little background on today’s guest.

Chuck Reininger Head Winemaker of Reininger Winery

Chuck Reininger Head Winemaker of Reininger Winery

Justin’s background is a similar journey of many guests I have the pleasure of talking with on The Tasting Room. Justin grew up just outside of Chicago and relocated to the Walla Walla area in 2005 to attend the Institute for Viticulture and Enology. He worked the grape harvest in 2005 with Waterbrook Winery in Walla Walla. It was shortly thereafter that he joined forces with the Reininger Winery in November of 2005.

The Reininger Winery is located in the heart of the Walla Walla Valley. Head winemaker, Chuck Reininger, specializes in crafting elegant and finely structured red wines from hand-harvested, ultra premium grapes.

Reininger Winery tasting room in Walla Walla

Reininger Winery tasting room in Walla Walla

Glacial Lake Missoula was a prehistoric glacial lake in Western Montana that existed periodically at the end of the last ice age.  As warming periodically occurred Lake Missoula would flood carrying its alluvial soil matter to Washington State, and to the Walla Walla American Viticulture Area.

The Walla Walla area soils are composed of alluvial soil material and layers of volcanic ash from eruptions throughout history. These layers of soil and rock have created ideal soil conditions to grow grapes in.  The days are warm to hot and the night air is cool, perfect for growing world-class grapes that make fabulous wines.

Justin worked at Reininger Winery all through school doing everything from cellar work, to pouring wine in the tasting room, to painting bathrooms, when you work at a winery everyone does what needs to be done.

It was during Justin’s tenure that his roles evolved and he moved into a sales role beginning with local sales and then after the school moved into his current national sales position.  He’s been doing that ever since.  Distribution for the Reininger and Helix brands has grown to 17 states.  Justin eventually would like to make wine though, it’s his passion.

Let’s sit back and listen to my conversation with Justin Vajgert from the Reininger and Helix wine labels and learn a little more about these gems from Walla Walla.

Tasting Notes

The 2011 Reininger Merlot grapes are from the Pepper Bridge and Seven Hills Vineyards and are 100% Merlot. This wine has been barrel aged in 53% French, 47% American, and 5% new oak for 2 years.

2011 Reininger Merlot Walla Walla Valley

2011 Reininger Merlot Walla Walla Valley

This is a big, powerful, and robust Merlot, with very ripe fruit balanced by sweet oak spice from the French and American oak.  The fruit aromatics and flavors are of dark cherry, ripe plum, spicy tobacco, caramel and toasty oak. A touch of acidity lifts the fruit forward toward the end for a long, bright finish.

The Helix 2013 Pomotia is a blend of grapes from the Pepper Bridge, Phinny Hill, Seven Hills, Stillwater Creek, Stone Tree, Weinbau and XL vineyards. The blend is 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Syrah, 18% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc and has been barrel aged for 2 years. The nose is lovely and rich, sweet yet spicy, black currant, plum, cardamom, and violets an aroma that is downright captivating.

2013 Helix Pomatia Columbia Valley

2013 Helix Pomatia Columbia Valley

Its velvety texture bathes the palate with luscious black cherry and succulent dried dark fruit that’s stimulated by a soft yet vibrant acidity. On the finish, a gentle wave of focused fruit is a bobbing streak of perfumed wood spice impregnated with specs of loam. This wine is delicious!

The 2011 Helix Syrah is 100% Syrah; grapes are from the Phinny Hill, Stone Tree & Clifton Hill Vineyards, and is 100% Merlot. On the nose black currant, red berries, cherry, and a delicate sweetness.

2011 Helix Syrah Columbia Valley

2011 Helix Syrah Columbia Valley

The palate does not disappoint, rich and round with flavors of blue fruits and wonderful savory quality with a finish of tea and wet slate, this is a good thing. This wine has been barrel aged in 100% French Oak for 2 years.

I hope you enjoyed today’s wine program The Tasting Room. Please join me again next Sunday for a live interview with Boo Walker, Head of Global Sales and Marketing, and Author from Hedges Family Estate. Until then I will see you on the radio.

From my table to yours,