In the mid 1980’s Jim Moyer began making homemade wine in the Walla Walla Valley under the label, Les Monts Des Bleu Winery (The Blue Mountains Winery). Cliff Kontos, a self-employed cattleman and wheat rancher for the past 30 years, first developed an interest in winemaking in 1974.
Like many of their predecessors in the valley, Jim and Cliff are self-taught Winemakers. Over the years they have benefited from the information and wisdom of other outstanding Winemakers in the Valley. In 1998, Jim and Cliff began making wine together at Fort Walla Walla Cellars.
They share a common objective and philosophy in the production of their wines, which can be summarized this way: "Each year we obtain the highest quality hand picked grapes available in the Walla Walla Valley. We age and blend this fruit in small premium oak cooperage to produce the finest wine at the most reasonable price for the consumer."
We begin by selecting the finest wine grapes available in the Walla Walla Valley. The hand-picked grapes are harvested at the peak of maturity, then de-stemmed and crushed. Fermentation takes place in small, open-top bins using a yeast strain that encourages the development of varietal intensity and complexity, producing a full-bodied wine that ages well.
During fermentation, the grapes are limited to a must temperature of about 85ºF while manually punching the grape must cap 5-6 times a day. At dryness, we gently press the grape must into a settling tank for a brief settling. At the completion of this stage, the wine is pumped into small French; American; Hungarian, and Russian oak barrels for malolactic fermentation and aging.