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Washington Wine Month Stop #7: Dusted Valley

From cheese-heads to winos, Corey Braunel and Chad Johnson’s American Dream is our 7th stop on our Washington Winery tour.

Walla Walla doesn’t showcase much of a Dusted Vally as Wisconsin but Braunel and Johnson call it home and pay tribute to their roots with their wines, vines and process.


Dusted Valley was founded on the notion that when family pulls together the American Dream can turn into a living reality.

“Hey, we’re just a proud bunch of farm-raised Wisconsin Cheese-heads, and what goes well with cheese? You guessed it – wine. It’s all about the wine… ,” exclaim Braunel and Johnson.

Braunel and Johnson don’t exactly remember when the idea of Dusted Valley came about. They had many inspiring experiences with wine and wonderful food, surrounded by incredible friends and family. Thus began the quest for the best fruit and estate vineyards in the Walla Walla Valley and beyond.

So, in 2003 the Braunel and Johnson families moved to Walla Walla and became the 52nd winery to “hang the shingle” and call Walla Walla Valley home.

Today, both families are producing spectacular wines from their 4,000 case operation. They are vineyard focused and farm four diverse vineyards totaling nearly 100 acres in the Walla Walla Valley. In addition, Dusted Valley has begun a unique barrel project using extra-tight-grained Wisconsin Oak harvested from the very land they grew up around!

As they say in the Dusted Valley, “Experience the click of quality and crack that cap! The first two glasses are for your health, the second two for ours!”

Why the Walla Walla Valley?

“Dusted Valley represents our family’s quest to fulfill a dream of crafting world-class wine in Washington State. In 2003, we set out on a hunt for the best fruit and estate vineyards in the Walla Walla Valley and ended up finding that and much more.

Here, the sun drenches the valley and the moon shines over the Blue Mountains. The local produce and restaurant scene is fantastic and the wines are among the best in the world. Life does not revolve around rush hour traffic and corporate deadlines, but rather the expansive vineyards and farmlands that link us with our agricultural roots, connect us to our neighbors and surround us every day.

Here, there is a spirit of camaraderie and community. Neighbors work together towards common goals and interests, and founding fathers mentor the next generation of Washington wine stars. This is Walla Walla. It’s where we grow our grapes, make our wines, raise our families and where we are proud to call home.”

Growing Philosophy and Vineyard List:

Dusted Valley’s sustainable farming practices, attention to detail and extremely low yields produce grapes of infinite quality. Call them mavericks, rebels or even crazy, but they like to walk the edge and push themselves every day.

If they don’t make mistakes along the way, they aren’t pushing their boundaries hard enough. The rewards always outweigh the risks.
Our estate vineyards yield wines with classic earth, minerality and acid while featuring a freshness true to Washington State terroir. This, combined with our old world techniques and innovative winemaking attitude, result in strong vintages year after year.

Estate Vineyards

Sconni Block was planted in 2001 and is named in honor of their Wisconsin roots. It is an 11 acre Bordeaux vineyard situated on the Washington side of the Walla Walla Valley floor. The wines made from Sconni grapes are the biggest, darkest and most structured wines in their portfolio. They are typically the backbone of their Bordeaux style wines.

Minnick Hills was planted in 1999-2001 and lies north of Walla Walla. It is their coolest and highest elevation vineyard. It is a 30 acre vineyard planted primarily to Bordeaux varietals and a little Syrah. Affectionately dubbed “The Velvet Hammer” for its dark fruit and graceful structure, Minnick Hills lies on a beautiful sun drenched southwest facing slope. This vineyard is leased from the Minnick family, one of Walla Walla’s original pioneering families.

Birch Creek was planted in 1997-2005 and is situated on the Oregon side of the Walla Walla Valley. This 30 acre warm site lends a feminine quality and tends to show brighter fruit and perfume. Birch Creek is primarily Bordeaux varietals and Syrah and is farmed for Jim and Regina Vandersloot.

Stoney Vine was planted in 2007 and lies on the Oregon side of the Walla Walla Valley in the world famous “rocks” just outside of Milton Freewater. Formed by the ancient bed of the Walla Walla River, this 17 acre vineyard sits atop an alluvial fan comprised of rounded basalt river cobble. Stoney Vine is planted primarily to Rhone and Mediterranean varietals that deliver complex, honest wines that allow you to taste their true origin. Dusted Valley is proud to have harvested their first crop from this vineyard in fall 2010.

Non-Estate Vineyards

Lonesome Springs Ranch is located just west of Benton city in the Yakima Valley and owned by our good friend and fellow “Cheese Head,” Colin Morrell. It is the source of our vineyard designate Squirrel Tooth Alice Rhone Blend. Squirrel Tooth, with its bright perfumed fruit and generous palate, epitomize this stellar vineyard. Lonesome Springs is situated on a broken basalt bench covered by shallow well drained soils on a lazy south facing slope.

Stone Tree is on the Wahluke Slope and will soon be known as one of top vineyards in the state. They source a little bit of literally everything from this vineyard and it never disappoints. Stone Tree is owned and operated by Washington maverick, Ted Wildman.

The Wines:

Dusted Valley’s wine portfolio consists of a wide variety of whites, rosés, Bordeaux and Rhone style wines from their vineyards.

They also produce a special collection entitled Boomtown. A throwback to the energetic Roaring 20’s, Boomtown embodies the spirit of American progress.

“Like the Americans that paved the way for accessibility in the roaring 20’s, our family is blazing trails for the discovery and enjoyment of Washington wines around the world. It’s this pioneering spirit that inspired us to develop BOOMTOWN, a widely-available family-owned brand in the “Booming” Washington wine industry,” Braunel and Johnson explain.

Join the Stained Tooth Society:

The Stained Tooth Society, a.k.a. STS, is the Dusted Valley wine club. It is a “tailored” wine club that offers its members the opportunity to choose their wines at exclusive member access pricing.

The Stained Tooth Society’s mission is to spread the enjoyment and appreciation of Dusted Valley’s favorite fermented beverage. WINE!!! Although red wine is usually the culprit in the stained tooth smile phenomenon, all white wine drinkers are encouraged to join in on the hedonistic festivities.

We’re all adults here, so there is no need to worry about merit badges, selling cookies, or taking Dad’s fattened calf to the county fair. This club is about sharing in the pleasure of their wine, great food, and lifelong friendships.

Dusted Valley

Walla Walla Tasting Room

1248 Old Milton Hwy
Walla Walla, WA 99362


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    Theresa Dillon

    Theresa Dillon
    Theresa Dillon earned her bachelor’s degree in print journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at ASU. In her spare time she enjoys reading, attending concerts, weekly trivia nights, watching movies (especially her favorite The Wizard of Oz), and of course wine.