Random facts about Walla Walla, Washington
Walla Walla is the capital of Washington wine country and is home to more than 120 wineries. Located in the southeastern part of Washington state, Walla Walla is fast becoming nationally recognized for its culinary scene, thanks in part to the robust wine industry. The area also has an abundance of outdoor recreation, and, an arts & entertainment scene that rivals cities many times its size. This community of just over 30,000 residents is known for many things, including its friendliness and hospitality, the quality of its wine, and of course the famous Walla Walla Sweet Onion. An easy and scenic four-hour drive from Seattle, Portland, or Boise, Walla Walla can also be accessed via Alaska Airlines’ daily non-stop flights from Seattle.
Most people are familiar with the Walla Walla Sweet Onion, or its emerging wine industry, but did you know any of these five random facts?
Five Fun Facts about Walla Walla, Washington
1) Walla Walla is often referred to as “the town so nice they named it twice,” but the name is actually a Native American term of Sahaptin origination that translates to “place of many waters” due to the abundance of lakes, rivers, and streams in the area.
2) The history of the Walla Walla Sweet Onion — the official vegetable of Washington State — began more than a century ago on the island of Corsica off the west coast of Italy. It was there that French soldier Peter Pieri found some sweet onion seeds and brought them to the Walla Walla Valley. Over decades, this sweet onion was developed through a process of hand selecting onions from each year’s harvest for exceptional sweetness, size and shape. Under a federal marketing order established in 1995, Walla Walla Sweets can be grown only within the Walla Walla Valley.
3) Walla Walla’s first commercial winery — Leonetti Cellar — was established in 1977. Four year’s later, Wine & Spirits Magazine recognized the first Leonetti Cabernet (from the 1978 vintage) as one of the best in the nation. By 1984, the federal government designated the Walla Walla Valley as one of the first official wine appellations in the Pacific Northwest. In 2012, five of those wineries landed on Wine & Spirits’ respected “Top 100 Wineries of the World” list. Today, with more than 120 wineries, Walla Walla is home to a $500 million wine industry.
4) The historic Power House Theatre is a world-class, 342-seat performing arts theatre located in downtown Walla Walla, Washington. The 120-year-old building was once the Walla Walla Gas Plant, originally built to produce coal gas and pipe it underground to light the streets, businesses and homes of Walla Walla. The building was converted to generate electricity around the year 1905 by installing steam driven dynamos and transformers. In 2011, the building was transformed into a state-of-the-art performing arts theater, with the interior stage and seating configuration modeled after London’s Blackfriars Theatre, Shakespeare’s winter playhouse.
5) The Swedish city of Boras is known as the City of Sculpture, thanks in part to Walla Walla. A 30-foot bronze statue in Boras, which depicts a strolling Pinocchio and is titled Walking to Boras, was forged from concept to completion by American artist Jim Dine in 2007 at the Walla Walla Foundry. The Walla Walla Foundry is a world renown, modern bronze casting facility featuring artists from across the globe.
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