Gary Figgins’ first exposure to the world of wine came as a child when his maternal grandparents—immigrants from Italy who settled in the Walla Walla Valley—served him small portions of diluted wine produced by hand in their dirt floored cellar. Frank and Rose Leonetti never conceived that years after their deaths these first tastes of wine would inspire the birth of a winery that would place their name on bottles of world-class wines: Leonetti Cellar. Completely self-educated in the art of making wine, Gary discovered a further passion for wines when as a young father and army reservist he made frequent trips to Northern California. Side trips to California’s wine country inspired Gary to begin making wines at home. In the beginning, he fermented numerous fruits and berries from the bountiful Walla Walla Valley—with varying degrees of success. Soon, Gary’s entrance into wine production would come full circle, when with the help of his uncles, an acre of cabernet sauvignon and a bit of white riesling would be planted on a hillside above the original Leonetti homestead in 1974. After several years honing his skills as an amateur winemaker, Gary would bond Leonetti Cellar in 1977 and produce its first wines in 1978. What his early wines lacked in quantity—produced in a tiny cellar beneath his home—they made up for in quality. Pouring his wines for anyone who was willing to taste them, Gary and his wife Nancy soon realized they were on to something when demand for the limited bottlings gradually began to outgrow production.
Disregarding the skeptics’ advice otherwise, Gary expanded the winery until it was beyond the scale of an evening-and weekend-project. He then quit his job as a machinist at a local can manufacturing plant to pursue his winemaking passion full-time. Over the years, Gary’s dream of an architecturally inspiring building to produce Leonetti wines in has been realized. After years of collecting native basalt stones with members of his family, he built a beautiful structure complete with underground barrel cellar. A further addition with subterranean caves was completed in 2000. Gary’s philosophy of winemaking is to maintain total control over the winemaking process from start to finish. To that end, Leonetti Cellar has recently expanded its vineyard holdings in the Walla Walla Valley to complement its fruit purchased from elsewhere in the Columbia Valley. Always an innovator in the wine industry, Gary utilizes an aggressive regimen of oak barrels to complement his intensely flavored wines. He has even gone so far as to hand-pick oak logs from throughout the nation, which have been air-dried for years at the winery and then sent away for cooperage.
All of this attention to detail has brought enormous demand for the consistent quality of Gary’s wines, and made Leonetti Cellar wines among the most sought-after in the world. Gary remains humble about his winery’s successes, choosing to resist the temptations for increased production and remain a truly hands-on winemaker.
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Leonetti Merlot 2013
As pure and linear an expression of Walla Walla Merlot that you might imagine. Simply gorgeous red and black fruits, especially blueberries, raspberries, and hints of dried apricot. The mouth feel is so wonderfully plush, delicious, and expansive. This wine just makes me smile with pleasure and is everything I ... more
in mixed case $84.99
Leonetti Reserve 2012
The nose on this wine turns up the volume to 11 (Spinal Tap style). Divinely complex with notes of sweet fresh and dried flowers, balsam, crème brûlée, and vanilla. Pure ripe fruit without being cloying. Background notes of a freshly cut White Fir awaiting Christmas lights. Delicious, incredible length, with ... more
in mixed case $169.99
Leonetti Merlot 2008
Pure Merlot from Walla Walla can be so stunning, and I feel this wine shows off all the varietal's strengths. The nose leads with complex spice, ripe fruits including strawberries, raspberries, and other bramble fruits, and has background aromas of mint, pine, white pepper, and juniper berries. Searching harder, there's ... more
in mixed case $84.99
All sizes are 750ml unless otherwise noted.
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