A year ago Spokane residents learned that the Washington Wine Commission canceled the popular long running event, Taste Washington. Many Spokanites felt that the wine commission turned their backs on our city. Conversation of east versus west and second city sprung up at wineries and wine bars around Spokane.
Enter Varsity Communications to save the day! Varsity Communications is the brains behind Taste Washington (Seattle, Portland and formerly Spokane). If anyone is familiar with hosting a grand tasting, Dick Stephens and his team are.
Sunday, June 5 the culmination of their efforts shone the spotlight on why Spokane is a perfect host city. With 60 wineries and dozens of food vendors, The Lincoln Center played host to the first annual Vintage Spokane. With each sip the memory of Taste Washington became more and more faint. Over 400 people plus volunteers, vendors, and wineries enjoyed the wines of Washington and Idaho perfectly paired with culinary creation.
Where Were The Spokane Wineries?
As a local business owner, I have to play the political balancing game but as I talked to several people leading up to and during the event, one question kept coming up, “Where are the Spokane wineries.” With 19 wineries producing wine in town, one would expect at least a 50% participation rate. As I walked around, I was happy to see Robert Karl, Arbor Crest and Knipprath Cellars proudly representing Spokane. I realize that Vintage Spokane got a late start in recruiting and several local events may be tying up the resources of local vintners, but the opportunity to show support and engage customers was missed. As I watched the hundreds of people enjoying wine and food, I couldn’t help but look forward to next year seeing 10-15 of our local quality wineries representing.
While I was there to work (a little), I had a goal to visit some new wineries and revisit some new releases from old friends. Below are some of the stand outs:
- Bergevin Lane She-Devil Syrah
- Cougar Crest Dedication
- Alexandria Nicole Shepherd’s Mark
- Long Shadows Pedestal Merlot
- Rotie Cellars Southern Syrah
- Kiona Winery Lemberger
The culinary delights were incredible as well. Cheese from local Saunders Market was a favorite as well as amazing presentation from Muckleshoot Casino (smoked salmon and marshmallow), and Kennewick’s Chef Frank Magana from Picazo 717 Restaurant (Gorgonzola stuffed, prosciutto-wrapped prawns and Dungeness crab chipotle mac n’ cheese).
If the 2011 Vintage Spokane event is any indication, Varsity Communications may need to look for a larger venue for the 2012 event. Spokane is a wine loving community and showed voracious support for the vintage vino.
See their Facebook page for pictures from the event