A brief history
Founded in 2013, Lagana Cellars is a Walla Walla Valley boutique winery producing Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Roussanne, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Malbec, Carmenere, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. Our primary goal is to create terroir-driven wines with varietal character and elegance. While touring the heart of downtown Walla Walla, duck into our intimate tasting room and enjoy some of our luscious reds and crisp, clean whites.
Not always focused on wine, Jason and Todd come from backgrounds rooted in the fields of arts and sciences. Jason studied anthropology and astrophysics at Indiana University Bloomington before graduating from Walla Walla Community College’s Enology and Viticulture program. Todd majored in drawing and photography at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, where he earned his BFA. Todd’s path toward wine began in 1997 when his father, Rich Bernave, was hired by Walla Walla Vintners as one of their first employees. Jason’s passion for wine was cultivated through his culinary experiences and love of food. Together, Jason and Todd formed a partnership anchored by four basic tenets: food, family, friends, and wine.
Have you ever had a pivotal Wine Moment in your life? For Lagana founder/owner Jason Fox it was the 2005 Chateau La Croix de Gay Pomerol … and with all due respect to the film Sideways, that f’ing Merlot was amazing! It had the characteristics of a truly balanced wine where terroir and process mattered: pure tannin structure, acidity, fruit and earthiness. At that moment, Jason was hooked, and not long after moved to Walla Walla to study winemaking.
It was at Walla Walla Community College’s Enology and Viticulture program that he discovered his passion for making whites – crisp, clean wines with little or no oak that are pure expressions of the grape, terroir and vintage. No two wines are alike across vintages and vineyards, which is what makes them fun to taste as well as tell their story.
In 2012 Jason interned at one of valley’s oldest and most respected wineries, Walla Walla Vintners. Working with Gordy Venneri and Myles Anderson’s wine making team, he learned to love the art of making red wines that are complex and interesting with an elegant interplay of tannin and fruit. His goal with reds is to make aromatic and luscious wines with less oak and more varietal character.
Majoring in drawing and photography at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Todd’s love of wine began the very day he returned to the Pacific Northwest in 1997 after art school. It was then he learned his father, Rich Bernave, had just been hired to help make the wines at one of the newest wineries in town, Walla Walla Vintners. Eventually Todd would follow in his father’s footsteps, working under Walla Walla wine legends Myles Anderson and Gordy Venneri, and their talented winemaker, Bill von Metzger. For almost a decade, their knowledge and guidance helped forge his love of wine, and for that he will always be thankful.
After pursuing a career in fine art for over 15 years, Todd found winemaking to be another potent outlet for his creative drive. For him, making wine and making art are almost one in the same; both are tactile, interactive mediums where science and creativity are blended in a very personal way. Where you decide to source the grapes, when and how you choose to pick the fruit, how that fruit is then crushed, fermented and pressed; these are just a few of the brushstrokes that make up the art of winemaking.
For Todd, every lot of fruit that comes into a winery is a work of art, and what you make of it is entirely your own.