It’s easy to find the Cougar wine along the row of stainless steel tanks at Bergevin Lane Winery in Walla Walla. The WSU logo gives it away. But what’s inside really distinguishes Cougar III wine.
“The idea that what’s in the bottle comes first is the predominant feeling around here,” says winemaker Dave Harvey ’88. “But what’s most unique about this vintage of the Coug wines is that everybody is Coug: vineyard owners, winery owner, winemaker.”
Winery owner and manager Annette Bergevin ’86 laughs at the synchronicity as she, Harvey, and winery dog Paco walk past the tanks.
Cougar III wine also has three varietals of grapes—Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Malbec—from three vineyards, notes Harvey.
One of those vineyards is on land where Bergevin grew up. She is a fifth-generation Walla Walla native who returned and started Bergevin Lane in 2002.
Bergevin brought on Harvey, with 20 years of industry experience, as winemaker about five years ago. She and Harvey emphasize the importance of chemistry between winemakers and vineyards, and the sourcing of the fruit to get the right blend.
“It’s Cougar pride—you want to put the best product you can out there when all of your peers are enjoying it,” says Bergevin. “It’s also great to see those students get scholarships.”
Kelly Brantner ’96, the Alumni Association manager who conceived of and manages the Cougar wine series, agrees: “You get to have fantastic wine and you support scholarships in viticulture, enology, and wine business management.”
Brantner says the sure way to get the bottle is through the Wine by Cougars club. A release party at Bergevin Lane on September 24 offers another opportunity.
She says alumni and Cougar fans should also know that they can send to any state where it’s legal to ship wine.
To pair food with Cougar III, Bergevin encourages people to experiment, and maybe post some recipes to Facebook for Cougar tailgate parties.
Harvey has a suggestion to start: “I think you need to bring out your best peppercorn steak recipe for it, because Malbec has just a little bit of spice to it.”