Wawawai canyon winery & vineyard


Our site is characterized by silt loam soils on a steep, south-facing slope, with hot dry days and cool nights in the growing season. We manage our vineyards for sustainability and ecological balance, using organic methods of soil development and pest control. In some years, we even use free-range turkeys for insect control in the vineyards. Songbirds nest in our vines, providing more natural pest control. Drip irrigation allows us to control the timing and amount of water the vines get throughout the growing season. All vine work and grape harvesting is done by hand.

Unlike the many wineries that use the term ‘cellar’ loosely, our picture-book winery boasts an underground cellar and barrel room that maintains a perfect temperature for wine aging.


Extreme heat, marginally fertile soil and steep, steep slopes characterize the canyon lands at Wawawai. A seemingly formidable site on which to grow wine grapes— newly established vines may take up to five years before reaching adequate maturity for production. An acre in the Canyon will yield only about 1-2 tons of fruit during a good year (whereas most commercial vineyards will yield anywhere from 3-5 tons per acre). Berries are notably small and flavors tend to be intense and concentrated. High acid levels and relentless structure make for earthy wines that reward cellaring.


Wawawai Roots

In establishing the first commercial vineyard in Whitman County since prohibition, we benefited from the help and encouragement of pioneering Lewiston viticulturalist, Bob Wing. A single test block was planted in 1994 with twelve different varietals, including cuttings from Bob’s small vineyard. Several of the varietals in the original block that flourished were then planted in abundance on two larger blocks, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Sauvingon Blanc and Rkatsiteli. The most recent plantings are classic Bordeaux blenders that contribute to the significant depth and complexity found in our wines—these grapes are Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carmènere. We are proud to manage the vineyard sustainably.

Pioneering Past

In addition to its stunning scenery, the canyon has a rich history. The first settler arrived in 1877 and planted an apple orchard, and after a few years a variety of orchards and a small community were established. Steam boats on the Snake river would dock there to be loaded  with fruit. Though the site of much of that history is under water now, due to the Lower Granite Dam, we are glad to be able to honor that history and add to the story today.