Celebrate Walla Walla a sold-out success

By on June 22, 2016
Celebrate Walla Walla

This year’s Celebrate Walla Walla focused on Cabernet Sauvignon. Every event was sold out, a first in Celebrate’s four-year history. (Photo courtesy WWVWA/Richard Duval Images)

WALLA WALLA, Wash. – The fourth annual Celebrate Walla Walla was the most popular yet.

Duane Wollmuth, executive director of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance, told Great Northwest Wine that every part of last week’s three-day celebration of Cabernet Sauvignon was sold out.

“That’s the first time that’s happened in four years,” he said.

More than 600 people from across the country attended the event, which took place Thursday through Saturday in Walla Walla. About a fourth of the attendees came from outside of the Northwest, and nearly three-fourths were from more than 50 miles away. That put a lot of heads in beds, which was great for Walla Walla tourism, Wollmuth said.

“All lodging was filled in town,” he said.

Celebrate Walla Walla began four years ago, and each year focuses on a different variety, rotating between Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot. This was the second time around for Cab.

The event focuses primarily on Walla Walla Valley wineries, though Friday’s seminar – typically the highlight of the three-day event – brings in winemakers from around the world. This year, the panel discussion included wines from Napa Valley, Bordeaux and Chile.

Wollmuth said the mix helps to put Walla Walla in an international context and also exposes attendees to a broader interpretation of wines.

He said the three non-Walla Walla wines helped drive ticket sales, particularly the Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux. Pavillon Rouge is a second wine for famed Bordeaux First Growth Château Margaux. The Cab-based blend retails for about $200 and provides a glimpse at the Grand Vin Margaux, which sells for about $1,100 per bottle.

“People don’t get to taste these wines every day,” Wollmuth said. “As a result, a lot of industry people attended that seminar.”

About 60 Walla Walla Valley wineries participated in this year’s Celebrate Walla Walla, which constitutes about half of the wineries in the region. Wineries are selected by the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance’s board of directors, which goes through lists of nominated wineries and considers tenure, reputation and winemaking style.

Next year’s Celebrate Walla Walla is June 15-17 and will focus on Syrah.

Here are a few photos from last week’s Celebrate Walla Walla, taken by Richard Duval, courtesy of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance.

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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.

One Comment

  1. […] The recently concluded fourth annual Celebrate Walla Walla is being hailed as one of Wollmuth’s legacies. The event takes place each June and focuses on one wine style that is important to the Walla Walla industry. This year’s theme was Cabernet Sauvignon, and Wollmuth and his team created an event that was a sold-out success. […]

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