Walla Walla Valley celebrates Cabernet Sauvignon with Napa winemakers

By on February 25, 2013
walla walla valley wine

Rick Small, owner and founder of Woodward Canyon Winery in the Walla Walla Valley, will take part in a Cabernet Sauvignon panel at Celebrate in June. (Photo by Andy Perdue/Great Northwest Wine)

WALLA WALLA, Wash. – Top winemakers from the Walla Walla and Napa valleys will share the stage June 20-22 for Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine.

The two wine regions are coming together to explore the world of Cabernet Sauvignon, not in a “Judgment of Paris” format but rather as a way to show the similarities and differences of their wines.

Duane Wollmuth, executive director of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance, said Celebrate is a rebranding of Vintage Walla Walla, which was staged during  the previous 11 years.

“Vintage Walla Walla was focused on the older wines and the opportunity to taste them,” he said.

Event will rotate between Cab, Syrah, Merlot

While Celebrate will still offer a tasting of vintage wines, it now will focus on a particular variety each year. Wollmuth said that because Washington does not have a particular variety it’s known for – such as Oregon and Pinot Noir – Celebrate will rotate between Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot.

Wollmuth plans to include top winemakers from other regions around the globe that specialize in these varieties. His hope this year was to include winemakers from the Napa Valley and Bordeaux, the world’s two most famous regions for producing Cabernet Sauvignon. However, Celebrate begins the same day VinExpo in Bordeaux ends, so top French winemakers were unable to attend.

Walla Walla Valley, Napa winemakers participate

Walla Walla Valley

Jean-François Pellet, winemaker for Pepper Bridge Winery, will participate in Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine. (Photo courtesy of Tourism Walla Walla)

The Walla Walla Valley will be represented by:

The Napa Valley will be represented by:

Also on stage will be geologist Kevin Pogue from Whitman University in Walla Walla and wine critics Patrick Comiskey and Paul Gregutt.

Those in attendance will be able to taste the wines along with the experts.

Next year: Syrah

Wollmuth said next year’s focus will be on Syrah, and he plans to bring in winemakers from France’s Rhône Valley and Australia. And 2015 will feature Merlot, and he hopes to have winemakers from Sonoma County and Chile.

“We want to showcase all the varieties we do well here,” he said.

Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine schedule

Celebrate begins Thursday, June 20, with a vintage tasting and a “Meet the Winemakers” wine tasting and dinner at Corliss Estates.

On Friday, June 21, the tasting will take place with the Napa and Walla Walla Cabs at the Marcus Whitman Hotel. A Cab-focused tasting and dinner at Waterbrook Winery will conclude the evening.

On Saturday, June 22, winemaker dinners will take place at 24 wineries throughout the valley.

A package that includes events for the entire weekend runs $310, which includes three wine-tasting events, three dinners and receptions. Patrons may also purchase tickets for individual events.

About Andy Perdue

Andy Perdue is founding partner of Great Northwest Wine LLC and a longtime wine columnist. He is a third-generation journalist who has worked at newspapers since the mid-1980s and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest magazine with Eric Degerman and served as its editor-in-chief for 15 years. He is the author of "The Northwest Wine Guide: A Buyer's Handbook" (Sasquatch, 2003) and has contributed to four other books.

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