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Welcome to the Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine Media Resource Page.

Formed by the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance in 2013, Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine is the region’s signature wine event held annually in June. The event series is structured to showcase a different wine varietal each year, historically focusing on Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot. Over the course of three days, the events demonstrate how wines can vary among the world’s leading regions resulting from different growing conditions, winemaking styles, and vineyards through special tastings of rare vintage wines, educational seminars, and one-of-a-kind winemaker dinners. 

For announcements, more information, downloadable images, or if you are interested in attending Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine then please contact me, Liz Knapke, Marketing Manager at liz@wallawallawine.com or (509)526-3117.


June 21, 2018

Merlot Proves Its Skin Is Thicker Than We Think

Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine sheds light on the noble grape’s resilience and omnipresence despite recent pop culture perils

WALLA WALLA, WACelebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine, a social and educational global wine event welcomed its sixth year with open arms and a formidable special guest. Rex Pickett, author of the wine-centric novel Sideways, which was later adapted into the Oscar-winning film of the same name, joined the Walla Walla Valley wine industry along with winemakers from California and Bordeaux to navigate guests through an immersive, no holds barred Merlot experience.

Visitors from more than 20 states and provinces throughout the United States and Canada took full advantage of the wide spectrum of Celebrate events ranging from special tastings of rare vintage wines, educational seminars and talks, and one-of-a-kind winemaker dinners during the weekend’s three event-filled days (June 14-16, 2018). Approximately 175 wines were poured by 58 wineries, most of which were Merlots that embodied the expressive terroir of the Walla Walla Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA).

The Friday morning World of Merlot: Kick-Off Event opened with a lively salon celebrating Merlot’s global significance and importance in the Walla Walla Valley presented through scientific fact and laugh out loud dialogue by Tim Donahue, Director of Winemaking at Walla Walla Community College Institute for Enology and Viticulture. Donahue left Merlot on the stage as an elegant, superhero willing to “do it all, and do it all without complaint.” Pickett entered stage left to set the record straight on the varietal, sharing the series of personal and professional events that led to the unintentional destruction of the Merlot market triggered by the Sideways film, known as the Sideways Effect. Pickett expressed his admiration for Walla Walla Valley Merlots and their purity before he asked for clemency from the sold-out crowd, which in turn evoked a shout of forgiveness from the audience and a bond that can only be attributed to sharing emotion and the human experience. All in all, the crowd left the Gesa Power House Theatre fully enlightened with a better understanding of the quiet strength of Merlot.

Guests delved deeper into Merlot during the Saturday morning Wine Panel Presentations & Tastings hosted by local winemaker, Ashley Trout of Brook & Bull Cellars and Vital Wines at the Marcus Whitman Hotel and Conference Center. Trout led a frank discussion with six winemaker & winegrower panelists from the Walla Walla Valley, Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley and Bordeaux region of France as guests listened in and sampled wines.

Attributed to the Sideways Effect, consumer interest in Merlot still carries a stigma over a decade later. Trout opened with thanking the crowd for attending and “helping kick Merlot out of its underdog status.”  Throughout the morning, as panelists fielded questions ranging from their personal experiences with growing the varietal to engaging with customers in the tasting room that refuse to sample “the Merlot,” one thing was resoundingly clear – the panelists hold Merlot in the highest regard.

Walla Walla Valley winegrower Sadie Drury of Seven Hills Vineyard expressed sound optimism in Merlot’s “bright future” by seeing a “consumer shift towards more balanced wines, Merlot is that perfect approachable wine.” Additional highlights from the celebration include Emmanuelle d’Aligny Fulchi, Technical Director with Château Angelus/Château Bellevue reminding the crowd that in the Bordeaux region of France, there is no Sideways Effect and Jeff Bundschu of Gundlach Bundschu in Sonoma Valley wisely concluding that “good wines always win, no matter the varietal.” When asked her greatest Merlot epiphany, Sally Johnson, winemaker from Napa Valley’s Pride Mountain Vineyards stated, “This trip to Walla Walla has been an eye opener for me. The wines here are so good … beautiful, stunning, world-class – they’re amazing.”

We recommend trying the Merlot, you’ll most likely be surprised.

Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine – The World of Merlot was made possible by the following sponsors:

HEADLINE

  • Banner Bank

  • Trysk Print Solutions

  • Wine & Spirits Magazine

GOLD

  • Moss Adams

SILVER

  • Andrae’s Kitchen

  • Black Tie Wine Tours

  • Columbia REA

  • Gesa Power House Theatre

  • Olive Catering

  • The Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center

MEDIA

  • KAPP/KVEW

  • KXLY

  • Sip Northwest Magazine

  • The Seattle Times

  • Walla Walla Union-Bulletin

COMMUNITY

  • City of Walla Walla

  • Port of Walla Walla

  • Walla Walla County

KICK-OFF SPONSOR

  • WCP Solutions

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About Celebrate Walla Walla Valley

Formed by the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance in 2013, Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine is the region’s signature wine event held annually in June. The event series is structured to showcase a different wine varietal each year, historically focusing on Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot. Over the course of three days, the events demonstrate how wines can vary among the world’s leading regions resulting from different growing conditions, winemaking styles, and vineyards through special tastings of rare vintage wines, educational seminars, and one-of-a-kind winemaker dinners. 

About the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance

The Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance is a non-profit wine industry membership organization whose primary mission is to build an internationally acclaimed Walla Walla Valley wine brand among consumers, media, and trade by providing marketing programs on behalf of member wineries, vineyards, and partners.  The Wine Alliance functions as the leading informational resource for consumers, media and trade interested in learning more about the Valley’s wine industry

Media Contacts:

Liz Knapke
Marketing Manager, Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance
liz@wallawallawine.com  | (509) 526-3117 office

High Resolution Images Available Upon Request

Ashley (Riggs) Mahan
Chief Operating Officer, Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance
ashley@wallawallawine.com | (509) 526-3117 office

 


April 20, 2018

Globally Celebrated Winemakers Announced for Merlot Panel and Collaborative Dinners of Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine – The World of Merlot

Global wine panel and exclusive dinners to be held June 16 as part of sixth annual event in Walla Walla, Washington

 

WALLA WALLA, WA (April 20, 2018) – Tickets are on sale now for Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine – The World of Merlot Wine Panel Presentations & Tastings and the Collaborative Winemaker Dinner Series, taking place on June 16.

Winemakers from Bordeaux, Sonoma and Napa Valley join Walla Walla winemakers and wine grape growers for a rare opportunity to taste Merlots from the wide-range of producers. The Celebrate Wine Panel Presentation and Tastings, moderated by local winemaker Ashley Trout, will demonstrate how wines can vary among the world’s leading regions resulting from different growing conditions, winemaking styles, and vineyards through the educational seminar and tasting. Attendees will get to taste Merlot from all six producers: 

  • Jean-François Pellet, Winemaker and Partner | Pepper Bridge Winery, Walla Walla Valley

  • Sadie Drury, Viticulture Manager | Seven Hills Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley

  • Jason Magnaghi, Vineyard Manager | Leonetti Cellar, Walla Walla Valley

  • Emmanuelle d’Aligny-Fulchi, Enologist/Technical Manager | Château Angélus & Château Bellevue, Bordeaux, France

  • Sally Johnson, Winemaker | Pride Mountain Vineyards, St. Helena, CA

  • Jeff Bundschu, President | Gundlach Bundschu, Sonoma, CA

“This year’s panel participants offer incredible diversity,” said Ashley Riggs, Chief Operating Officer of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance. “For many, the Celebrate Wine Panel is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to taste wines and hear directly from these premium producers.”

The Wine Panel Presentations and Tastings take place on Saturday, June 16 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the historic Marcus Whitman Hotel.

To conclude the Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine – The World of Merlot series of events, guests can now purchase tickets for the Saturday night Collaborative Winemaker Dinner Series. Ticket holders will experience an exclusive evening in the Walla Walla Valley as winemakers and local and guest chefs band together to create extraordinary, intimate, food and wine experiences. A limited number of seats are offered at the dinner tables of seven locations throughout the Walla Walla Valley: 

  • Join Lagana Cellars, Otis Kenyon Wine and DAMA Wines in beautiful Downtown Walla Walla for the Downtown Progressive Dinner. As guests progress down Main Street, they will taste a variety of wines paired with bites from some of Walla Walla’s finest chefs. Dine & sip with winemakers Jason Fox, Dave Stephenson and Mary Derby, while enjoying appetizers crafted by Paul Vandervort of Il Forno and dinner prepared by Michael Kline of Walla Walla Bread Company.

  • It’s been over 16 years since the premiere of Sideways, but here in Washington we never stopped believing in that noble grape - Merlot. Celebrate Walla Walla with the winemakers from Northstar, Solemn Cellars and Gifford Hirlinger for a fantastic five-course, gourmet dinner prepared by Chef Adam Hegsted of Eat Good Group paired with Walla Walla wines, including some amazing Merlots. Dinner hosted by Northstar.

  • Winemakers from Sleight of Hand Cellars, Va Piano Vineyards, Pride Mountain Vineyards of Napa Valley and Gundlach Bundschu of Sonoma Valley will revel guests with a multi-course, wine-paired extravaganza crafted by Chef Andrae Bopp of Andrae's Kitchen and featuring wines from Walla Walla, Sonoma and Napa Valley. Experience a rockin' dinner hosted at Sleight of Hand Cellars.

  • Join Tempus Cellars along with neighbors Tamarack Cellars and Five Star Cellars at their brand-new C Street location. Cugini Italian Market will delight dinner guests with a wonderful, multi-course meal paired perfectly with outstanding, award-winning wines.

  • Winemakers Mike Sharon and Kevin Mott of L’Ecole N° 41 and Woodward Canyon will share their wines as guests get a preview of the menu from the new Walla Walla Steak Company, opening downtown this summer. Appetizers in the garden will be followed by a multi-course meal as the sun sets across the fields.

  • Armstrong Family Winery, Kontos Cellars, Eternal Wines and Foundry Vineyards team up with Executive Chef Grant Hinderliter and his Culinary Team to pair a diverse, four -course dinner at the historic Marcus Whitman Hotel.

  • Walla Walla Vintners, Aluvé Winery, Seven Hills Winery and Watermill Winery create an intimate evening not to be missed! Guests can take in the picturesque views from the Cut Bank Estate vineyard at Walla Walla Vintners while pairing classic wines with exciting food by Candace Navarre of Forage Walla Walla. The farm-to-table menu will focus on locally sourced and organically grown ingredients and accompanied by an exquisite selection of wines from some of the Valley’s most revered wineries. Outdoor dining if weather permits.

“The Winemaker Dinner Series is truly the grand finale of the Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine event series,” said Ashley Riggs, Chief Operating Officer of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance. “Winemakers and chefs collaborate to delight guests with exceptional food and wine, while creating memories that that will be cellared for years to come.”

The Winemaker Dinner Series will be held on Saturday, June 16, from 6:00-9:00 p.m., tickets are $125 per person for the dinner of the purchaser’s choice. All Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine events are for persons of ages 21 and over.

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March 8, 2018

Revised Schedule and Tickets Announced for Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine – The World of Merlot

Sixth annual event to be held June 14-16, 2018 in Walla Walla, Washington


WALLA WALLA, WA (March 8, 2018) – More than 60 Walla Walla Valley wineries, guest winemakers from the world’s leading wine regions, esteemed speakers and an acclaimed author will headline Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine – The World of Merlot, to be held at various locations June 14-16, 2018.

Celebrate showcases a different wine varietal each year comparing and sharing the similarities and differences of the Walla Walla Valley with other leading wine regions around the world. This year’s schedule includes new events and classic Celebrate events, reorganized to allow attendees increased exposure to Walla Walla Valley winemakers, wineries, and establishments along with intimate exchanges with guest speakers and panelists.

“The revised schedule provides attendees with more free time between the structured events to wander Walla Walla,” explains Ashley Riggs, Chief Operating Officer of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance. “Between educational seminars and large-scale tastings guests can visit tasting rooms, indulge in local cuisine and discover the charm of Walla Walla’s vibrant downtown.”

The 2018 Celebrate series will begin the evening of Thursday, June 14 with the beloved Vintage Pour event at the newly constructed Doubleback winery where guests will taste rare and exclusive wines produced by local wineries from the 2011 vintage and earlier.  

The following morning, attendees will surely be entertained at the World of Merlot: Kick-Off Event in the historic Gesa Power House Theatre. Local Geologist Dr. Kevin Pogue will lead a lively discussion with critically acclaimed author Rex Pickett, whose wine-centric novel, Sideways, was the base for the Oscar-winning film of the same title. Infamously known for flipping the script on Merlot, Pickett is thrilled to join the Celebrate dialogue, share his journey with this noble varietal and explain what makes Walla Walla Valley Merlot “powerful, deep, beautiful and clearly built to be cellared.”

Friday’s events continue with an updated time for the Merlot Grand Tasting where guests will sample and compare over 100 premier Merlots and other varietals from Walla Walla Valley wineries. Event host Foundry Vineyards will feature installations by local artists Augusta Sparks Farnum and Kim Nemeth in their contemporary gallery space.

The day concludes with three auxiliary sessions that highlight the Merlot-convert’s impact on the wine industry; all sessions are centered around Sideways, Pickett’s acclaimed novel turned Oscar-winning film. The Previews: Taste & Talk with Rex Pickett gives guests the opportunity to mingle with the author while sipping a selection of wines from the Celebrate family of varietals—Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah—produced by the decade’s newest local wineries. Following Taste & Talk, there will be a complimentary screening of the movie inspired by the novel, Sideways at the Gesa Power House Theater, with an introduction to the film by Pickett. In addition, The Author’s Table: Dinner with Rex will be held at the Whitehouse-Crawford Restaurant. Under 30 tickets are available for this intimate six-course paired dinner crafted by Chef Jamie Guerin.

Saturday, June 16 will start with the Wine Panel Presentations and Tastings, previously held during Friday’s events. This new time slot clears the palate to fully immerse in Celebrate’s most educational session. Moderated by local winemaker Ashley Trout, the panel consists of winemakers and vineyard managers from the Walla Walla Valley, California and beyond. Guests will get to taste Merlot from all producers in this showcase of Walla Walla Valley on a global stage. Panelists to be announced in April 2018.

Celebrate concludes Saturday night with Collaborative Winemaker Dinners throughout the Walla Walla Valley. Attendees will experience an exclusive evening as winemakers and chefs, both local and visiting, come together to create extraordinary food and wine experiences. A limited number of seats are offered at the dinner tables, locations and details to be announced April 2018.

Tickets on sale now at CelebrateWallaWalla.com.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Vintage Pour | Doubleback | 4:30-6:30 p.m. | $100

Friday, June 15, 2018

World of Merlot: Kick-off Event | Gesa Power House Theater | 9:00-10:30 a.m. | Complimentary

Merlot Grand Tasting | Foundry Vineyards | 1:30-3:30 p.m. | $75

The Previews: Taste & Talk with Rex Pickett | Gesa Power House Theater | 6:00-7:00 p.m. | $75

Movie Screening | Gesa Power House Theater | 7:15-9:30 p.m. | Complimentary Tickets

The Author’s Table: Dinner with Rex | Whitehouse-Crawford Restaurant | 7:30-9:00 p.m. | $175

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Wine Panel Presentations and Tastings | Marcus Whitman Hotel | 10:00-12:00 p.m. | $65 early bird rate through April 30

Collaborative Winemaker Dinners around the Walla Walla Valley | 6:00-9:00 p.m. | $125

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About Celebrate Walla Walla Valley

Formed by the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance in 2013, Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine is the region’s signature wine event held annually in June. The event series is structured to showcase a different wine varietal each year, historically focusing on Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot. Over the course of three days, the events demonstrate how wines can vary among the world’s leading regions resulting from different growing conditions, winemaking styles, and vineyards through special tastings of rare vintage wines, educational seminars, and one-of-a-kind winemaker dinners. 

About the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance

The Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance is a non-profit wine industry membership organization whose primary mission is to build an internationally acclaimed Walla Walla Valley wine brand among consumers, media, and trade by providing marketing programs on behalf of member wineries, vineyards, and partners.  The Wine Alliance functions as the leading informational resource for consumers, media and trade interested in learning more about the Valley’s wine industry.