The newest winery at The Waterfront Vancouver specializes in small-batch wines in a moody-industrial tasting room.
The first thing seen upon entering the 900-square-foot space is a wall of dissected overlapping river rocks and a concrete counter with a metal inlay of the Valo Cellars logo. The room, in the Rediviva building, 671 W. Columbia Way, can seat about 25 under the pandemic restrictions.
“We’re here for people to see what’s changed at the waterfront,” said Audrey Goodine, manager at Valo.
The tasting room, which opened a few weeks ago, offers seven wines from Valo and two from Massalto, and bottles range in price from $30 to $70.
Valo wines are more traditional varietals, while Massalto has more unique styles; one of its wines was made only with carbonic-maceration Cinsault grapes, typically blended and rarely found alone, Goodine said. The tasting room also offers charcuterie boards to pair with wines.
The grapes are sourced from Othello, but the winery itself is based in Walla Walla, where the wine is processed.
Valo Cellars is a project of Michael Ruhland, 42, of Bozeman, Mont., and business partner and co-winemaker Matias Kusulas. The two met in New Zealand working in a winery, sparking a friendship and business partnership; they co-own Valo and Massalto and both make the wines.
The Vancouver location is the second from Ruhland; He opened a Valo Cellars tasting room in Bozeman a few years ago, called Blend.
Ruhland said he was looking for a spot for his second winery in Walla Walla, but a friend recommended he look at The Waterfront Vancouver, and Ruhland said he saw more potential.
“We feel fortunate to be in an arena of other wineries with well-established bigger names,” Ruhland said.
In the future, Ruhland wants to possibly move Massalto to a different tasting room in Vancouver and keep Valo in its current spot.
Ruhland also comes from a culinary background: He was a chef at the Yellowstone Club in Big Sky, Mont.
“As a chef learning food and tasting wines, I started doing wine dinners,” he said. “It was a lot of fun. I thought: If I’m going to work this hard, I’m going to do it for myself.”
That led Ruhland into the world of winemaking, but he hasn’t dropped his chef habits. He still hosts private, upscale dinners that he pairs with his wines. In the future, Ruhland plans on incorporating pop-up wine dinners with the Valo brand in Vancouver.
This story was corrected to accurately state where Valo Cellars was based and the tasting room address.