Have you heard the news? Wine lovers everywhere are rejoicing with the announcement that Vintage Spokane is coming back to Spokane for a 2nd year. Last year’s inaugural event at The Lincoln Center was a smashing success. Spokane wine lovers came in large numbers forcing the event to move to the larger Northern Quest Resort and Casino. Now we can sip, taste, stay and play! Want more good news? The event costs less, only $45. Want more good news? The event length has been extended. Want more good news? You can buy the wines you like at the event. You can purchase VIP tickets for only $60 and get an extra hour of less crowded tasting and interacting with winery owners and wine makers.
Visit http://www.vintagespokane.com for all the information. The event is Sunday June 24, 2012
WIN TICKETS! IT’S EASY
Entry is easy, we need YOU to help spread the word. Post the following as your Facebook status (or as a tweet) and then leave a comment on this blog so we know you did it. One winner will be selected on June 15 and will receive 2 tickets to the event. While you’re here, go “like” the Vintage Spokane Facebook page or follow them on Twitter.
SAMPLE FACEBOOK POST
Wine lovers rejoice. Vintage Spokane returns to Northern Quest. Over 60 wineries, amazing food, and a fun wine experience. Sip, Taste, Stay, Play http://www.vintagespokane.com on June 24. Win Tickets here – http://drinknectar.com/2012/06/05/vintage-spokane-2012/
Go to @vintagespokane @northernquest 60+ wineries. Sip, taste, stay, play http://bit.ly/jGrZxa Win Tix HERE> http://bit.ly/L7JAOn
*Nectar Tasting Room is a sponsor and participant in this event
03 Aug 2010
Part rant, part plea, part observation, this is the story of a region on the verge of growth. Some live in fear of the invasion of the white man like Marcus Whitman and the Cayuse Indians. Others are clinging to ideals that strangle progress and still others are embracing the potential of the region with open arms.
Spokane, just 3 hours north of Walla Walla and 2 hours from the heart of Columbia Valley is poised to become a wine tasting destination. Currently with 17 wineries to serve the population base of 500,000 in Spokane County (and another 150,000 in North Idaho’s Kootenai County), residents tend to leave town to visit “wine country” rather than experience the wine created in its own back yard. Spokane is home to three “large” wineries that boast production greater than 15,000 cases. The remaining wineries range in size from 500 cases to 5000 cases and often get lost in the glow of the mansion on the hill. Some of these wineries are consistently receiving high praise from the magazine elite and are adorned with precious medals won in the battle of competition.
Recently, news trickled down the grape vine of a new winery opening in North Spokane’s Greenbluff district. This farming community is always bustling with activity as residents pack into their soccer vans and four wheel urban assault vehicles to pick fresh fruit. Currently Townshend Cellars (20,000 cases) and Trezzi Farms (500 cases) hold down the grape canopy. A third winery in the district would certainly boost appeal and would add to the “day trip” destination.
Terranova Cellars, producing wine in Walla Walla but without a retail tasting room, chose glorious Spokane to unveil its passions to the world. Brent Bendick became the assistant wine maker for Isenhower Cellars in Walla Walla in 2004. Since that time, he’s learned the art and science of wine making. Concurrently, his first Newfoundland, Lalique, found him. Brent discovered a way to combine so many things that are important to him and start his own winery and give back to those who need it, not the least of which are the Newfoundland in the rescue program. With Brent’s wife Heidi earning her MBA from Gonzaga University, a natural Spokane connection existed.
Sadly, Terranova will not be opening in Greenbluff as expected. The Barbera, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Cabernet, and Rose will not be experienced because of county politics, Greenbluff association disapproval and other facility troubles. Brent and Heidi are sent back to the barrel room to contemplate their next moves. While not solely to blame for the decision, I do still say shame on Greenbluff for voicing their concern over selling wine that is not “grown or produced” in Greenbluff. Yes, Trezzi makes the valiant effort to grow grapes and produce a respectable Barbera but Townshend Cellars has moved production off site (with the exception of the occasional bottling and special barrels). Yes, Greenbluff, your precious T3 is grown, produced and bottled just north of Kennewick, WA. All this from a region that trucks in pumpkins to give the illusion of picking them during harvest.
Rumblings of horse drawn wagons have been heard as wineries from Walla Walla, Prosser, Yakima and further west look to Spokane for the next frontier. With the great land rush in Woodinville moving ahead, wineries are seeing the benefit of an extended tasting room. It’s easier to take your wine to the people than to expect and wait for them to come to you. Washington wineries are allowed two off site tasting rooms. With Seattle and Spokane being the two main population hubs, the next frontier logically seems to be Spokane.
Is this bad for the region? Should we fear the invasion of the outsiders? In this writer’s opinion, the answer is an emphatic NO. What would have happened if Chateau St. Michelle or Columbia Winery pruned the vines of progress? Growth of the region is good for the existing wineries. People look to a destination. A region with 10 wineries spread all across town (like Spokane was just 5 years ago) doesn’t garner much attention. Now, 8 tasting rooms downtown, 5 in the valley and 4 up north, there are distinct tasting regions that encourage day trips, weekend trips and walking tours of downtown. Wine events are happening daily, and the CVB’s First Friday Art Walk has become a signature event in Spokane. The city is thirsty for good wine and entertainment. Don’t believe me; just go to Arbor Crest on any given Sunday evening in the summer. Wine and smiles are all you’ll see.
Continued growth, either home grown or outside tasting rooms, means a greater draw from rural northern Washington, northern Idaho, and Western Montana. Maybe even some of those Tri-Cities folk will head east and do some wine tasting. While some fear the future, the future is coming. I predict 20 tasting rooms / wineries in and around the downtown core in just 5 years. Established wineries should embrace this change and plan for the increased tourism and business. As people visit, they’ll want to find your wine when they return to their homes. Wineries that track visitor patterns, set up appropriate distribution, and extend their tasting room through social media will see the juice flow.
As for Terranova, the journey continues. With 2007 wine bursting at its skins some tough business decisions lay ahead. Brent seems confident that the right doors will open and he can continue his quest of helping the Newfoundland rescue dogs.
Visit Terranova on the web: http://www.terranovacellars.com/
08 Apr 2010
So, here I am sitting in the tasting room, with an amazing view of the hills north of Spokane. Like a typical Spring day in the Northwest, the clouds are simultaneously flirting with rain and sunshine. I’m sipping on a 2002 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon with the wine maker. The wine has JUST NOW been released. How many wineries that you know are releasing their 2002 wines in 2009/2010?
Townshend Cellars has grown from a small production boutique winery to a powerhouse of quality producing over 20,000 cases per year from a selection of 20+ wines. Located 20 miles North of Spokane in beautiful Green Bluff, Townshend Cellars is a destination for wine in the heart of apples, strawberries and pumpkins. I’m ashamed to admit this was my first visit to Townshend, and even worse, my first experience with ANY Townshend wine. Before you discredit my wine experience, hear me out.
I first met Don Townshend for my review for the grand re-opening of Caterina Winery (Don recently took over ownership). While I’ve seen the T3, Vortex, and Table Wines in stores, I had yet to experience any Townshend wine. Upon my arrival, Don and Jill Rider (tasting room manager), welcomed me and the wine began flowing. What surprised me was the variety of wine that Townshend produces. From bubbles to Tempranillo, you can experience just about everything in the tasting room. – Seriously people, there are over 20 wines, including port, Rose, Chardonnay, Lemberger, Merlot, Malbec, Chenin Blanc and even Pinot Noir.
Townshend Cellars began in 2001 with the release of their 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon. That wine won the Inland Northwest’s best Cab and the praise has never stopped. Don attributes the success of Townshend to the Cab and the T3. T3 is a blend of Cab, Merlot and Cab Franc that was originally only available in restaurants. Customers can count on the wine to be consistent and a good value. Townshend’s signature wine spends up to 30 months in oak and another 3-4 years in bottle before being released. Sourcing 500 tons of grapes from Preston, Willard, Alder Creek and more, Townshend is committed to quality wine that releases when it’s ready, not when the cost sheet says so.
This winery visit included so many highlights. Don and Jill opened their 07 Malbec, 02 Cabernet Sauvignon, T3, and the biggest surprise, Huckleberry Brut. To be honest, this bubbly stuck with me so much that I’m still thinking about it. Made in the brut style, the sweetness of the huckleberry is subdued. Not a single Townshend wine is over $30. Check out the Diamond T club for 20% off of club shipments and 10% off wine and merchandise purchases.
While the current location was voted one of the top 10 places to have a picnic by Tasting Room Magazine, Don was excited to announce the ground breaking of a new tasting room further north in Green Bluff. The larger tasting room should be complete toward the end of summer with future expansion for wedding and meetings on the 20 acres coming in the next few years (check out the video for the amazing views).
It may have taken me a few years to experience Townshend Cellar but from what I’ve tasted, I can now relate to everyone who raves about the wine.
Townshend on the web: www.townshendcellar.com
Townshend on Twitter: @townshendcellar
Townshend on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Townshend-Cellar/107962877089
Open Thursday – Sunday Noon – 6pm
29 Mar 2010
Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah, Bordeaux…these may be the comfort wine of our world, but Spokane Winery Knipprath Cellars is making a bold departure and creating quite a stir with their Port line up and new focus on Iberian grape varieties Tempranillo, Garnacha, and Touriga Nacional. German born, Henning Knipprath grew his passion for wine in California, then started a winery in the state of Washington with a focus on Spanish/Portuguese wine. Henning brings his global experience to wine making and offers a perfect way to travel, with our palate, to new places!
(Henning is little quiet so turn up your volume)
After attending school in California and graduating with a Chemical Engineering degree, in 1990 the Air Force brought Henning Knipprath to Spokane (thanks, Uncle Sam). With a longtime passion for wine, Henning started Knipprath cellars in 1993. As an Air Force pilot, military deployments kept Knipprath Cellars a part-time operation until 1999 when they moved into their current location at 5634 E Commerce Ave. With his European background, Henning produced the “standard” Bordeaux varietals (Cabernet, Merlot), but it was his Port product that began getting the attention of consumers. “We didn’t set out this direction,” says Henning, “we were nudged by the customer’s response.” The nudge is so strong that Port sales are 60% of Knipprath’s production of 3000 cases.
The Port selection consists of a traditional ruby port, tawny port and creative delicacies that can only be described as desert in a bottle. The Au Chocolate is an infusion of pure chocolate extracts, and grape spirits while the yang to that yin is the La V vanilla port. The newest addition is the soon-to-be released Coffee Port. Look for a formal review soon. One might imagine some interesting creations by mixing two or even all three. In addition to Port, Knipprath offers hints of Henning’s German heritage with a seasonal spiced red wine using a recipe from his mother’s cookbook (Alpine Wine, $16), and a refreshing summer Lagrima (best served with a slice of lemon.)
The entire production of Knipprath wine (from grape to bottle) is done in the historic 6700 square foot Parkwater schoolhouse. Every inch of this building oozes character showing small hints of its use as a parochial school, military typing depot, and convalescence home. Henning has big plans for the space as he continues to think toward the future of expanded production, events space and expansive tasting room.
Next on the horizon for Knipprath Cellars is the release of a new label, La Bodega Del Norte. With Knipprath being so synonymous with Port, people often have a hard time recognizing the other quality wine. La Bodega Del Norte will focus on Tempranillo, Garnacha, and other Iberian grapes. Watch for these new releases in the near future.
Knipprath on the web: www.knipprathcellars.com
Knipprath on Facebook: search for Knipprath Cellars
Tasting Room Hours: Wed-Sun, Noon – 5pm
Old fashion phone call: 509.534.5121
11 Feb 2010
A funny thing happened after work. I actually walked away from my Twitter feed to talk to people. In person. I know, it’s a shocker! Hard to imagine that in today’s world people still enjoy getting together, shaking hands, and exchanging business cards. One hundred people enjoyed great wine, fine chocolate and bold coffee for three whole hours. Conversations were more than 140 characters and never once did I hear someone say, IMHO, LOL, or even WTF.
The topic. Social Media, of course.
Local professional network group LaunchPad INW (@LaunchPadINW)organized the event hosted by Northern Quest Casino Resort and Spa. While the wine, coffee and chocolate may have been a hit and a welcome benefit to attending, the true draw was the enigma, the elusive, the intimidating little thing called social media.
I was honored to be on the panel with three other highly engaging Social Media folk (@bethany_kate, @noseyparkerINW, and @rings_things). Each of had a few minutes to share some insights into how we use Social Media. The old school preacher came out in me and I had to cut my prepared remarks short – it was either the passion or the wine but the moderator got out the old shepherds hook.
Below are some of the questions that we started with:
Are you seeing a direct correlation between social media efforts and increased sales/awareness?
- Without a doubt the answer is yes. Everything I’ve done in the last three months to build the brand DrinkNectar has been through the three pronged approach of Twitter and Facebook pointing to my blog. The other panel members also spoke to the specific success they’ve seen with their efforts.
What is your social media mix? Percentage of publishing to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blog, etc.
- Biggest thing to gain here was that each person on the panel used a mix of each medium that they felt comfortable with. Great point from @noseyparkerINW was that each platform has its own audience and culture. It is a huge mistake to treat them all the same way. The message should be crafted differently for each network.
Are you seeking out connections or are they solely coming to you?
- I don’t think we actually asked this question, but if you think about it – imagine if Social Media didn’t exist. If you had a product to sell or a passion to pursue would you seek out connections or wait for them to come to you? Social Media is not much different than personal interaction
Have you been able to measure the success of these tools?
- Ahh, the age old question of ROI. Let me phrase it like this before I share the answers: What is the potential loss of business or reputation or brand status by NOT participating in these tools? Customers are on Twitter and Facebook (in huge numbers and for large amounts of time).
- The ROI answer was YES across the board but more anecdotal than specific. While I don’t sell a product my investment has resulted in a return of public awareness and community involvement (exactly what I was going for).
As the night progressed, the panel fielded questions from the audience. Each of the questions was very tactical and specific around “how do you,” “what do you,” “how many can you,” etc. Many of these questions were the same ones I had three months ago when I first launched DrinkNectar.com. I guess the answer is complex and simple at the same time. It goes back to getting social, old school. What makes someone successful at good old fashion palm pressing, baby kissing, business-card exchanging networking?
- Content: You’ve got to have a good product, idea or vision
- Care: You have to care about what you’re doing and those your engaging with
- Conversation: Ever seen anyone walk into a networking event and never say a word?
- Passion: It’s contagious
- Discipline: You’ve got to stick with it and be patient
Technical specifics aside on how to “use” Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, LinkdIN, Buzz, etc, etc – these principles work in going social, old school. Now they’re just magnified…infinitely!