Last year it was Il Corvo chef/owner Mike Easton partnering up with legendary Walla Walla bar guy Jim German to introduce Passatempo Taverna to Walla Walla diners. Now, Seattle chef Jason Wilson—whose newest restaurant The Lakehouse opened last month—is announcing he’s getting together with Va Piano Vineyards founder Justin Wylie and El Gaucho’s Chad Mackay, president of Fire & Vine Hospitality, on Eritage, an intimate resort starting with just 10 luxury suites in the heart of Walla Walla wine country.
When we wrote about Eritage for our wine country getaways issue, on stands soon, Wilson wasn’t yet confirmed, though rumor had it there was a prominent Seattle chef attached to the project.
They say the goal with the property is to really embrace the community of Walla Walla, and that means the restaurant will feature very seasonal, super local produce and proteins—in fact, when I spoke to Wilson from Walla Walla yesterday, he said they’d visited both a farm and a ranch straight from the airport. “The irony is that my restaurants in Seattle and Bellevue use primarily farmers from east of the mountains [depending on the season],” Wilson says. “Of course, we’ll bring a sense of personality to the cooking, but we’re really embracing what’s happening here.” If Miller’s Guild and The Lakehouse are any indication, there will be a massive grill in play.
I was hoping for perhaps a Willows Inn-type experience with tasting menus for all Wilson’s Crush fans, but he assured me that they were going to start simple—“nailing it on all cylinders”—but leave room for adjustments to the menu and style of dining depending on what guests want. He wouldn’t divulge the chef who will be leading the kitchen there, though said he’s got plenty of talent in his restaurants to choose from; it will be someone already familiar with his style and ethos.
Eritage sounds kind of magical: 300 acres of rolling wheat fields and vineyards that’s only six minutes from downtown Walla Walla. It’s expected to open this fall—“not September but not December,” according to Wylie—and Alaska Airlines has flights just over $150 round-trip if you can’t be bothered with the four-hour drive.