Friday brought news of another festival postponement prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic when Celebrate Walla Walla Wine – The World of Syrah was pushed back to the summer of 2021.
Organizers made the decision nearly three months in advance of the July 16-18 weekend that’s become a summer showcase for the Walla Walla Valley and attracts more than 500 guests from 20 states. Ironically, this year’s Celebrate would have been staged a month later than in the previous seven years.
“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the postponement of Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine – The World of Syrah to next summer,” Robert Hansen, executive director of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance, said in a statement.
Organizers planned for 1,200 tickets
Celebrate Walla Walla features more than 50 winemakers, grand tastings, educational seminars and winemaker dinners.
“Over the past few weeks, we remained optimistic that we’d be able to host the event this summer; however, with continued uncertainty regarding travel and the gathering of large groups, our Board of Directors voted this week to postpone this year’s event until July 15-17, 2021,” Hansen said. “With over 1,200 tickets for sale to 4 large gatherings and 7 smaller dinner events, we felt it most prudent to take these steps for the health and safety of our communities.”
Rather than change the rotation of varietal focus, a tradition established by the late Duane Wollmuth that began in 2013 with Cabernet Sauvignon, it will remain Syrah next year, followed by Cab in 2022 and Merlot in 2023. Much of the outline, schedule and lineup of participants are expected to remain similar.
Organizers of the International Pinot Noir Celebration in McMinnville, Ore., announced similar plans for 2021 when they announced on April 2 that this year’s IPNC was postponed. This year’s Celebrate would have been the first for Hansen in his position with the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance.
“With so many moving parts, including international and domestic travel for our esteemed speakers and panelists, along with guests traveling to the Walla Walla Valley from around the country – we wanted to provide the appropriate amount of time to modify arrangement and peace of mind for attendees, participating wineries and hospitality partners by rendering a decision,” Hansen said.
Decision to postpone ‘a difficult one’
All ticket purchases will be refunded in full, according to the alliance.
“The decision to postpone Celebrate was a difficult one to make. This postponement will deeply impact the small businesses within the wine industry in the Walla Walla Valley including wineries, hotels, restaurants and transportation providers, along with many others,” Hansen said. “We encourage those who would have otherwise visited the Walla Walla Valley and are able to support the industry in other ways to do so. There are some great promotions and creative packages available for wine lovers online, gift cards are available for future visits and of course, we hope everyone will save the date for next year’s event.”
Details for the 2021 event will be announced this autumn, according to the alliance, which asks supporters to browse specials and purchase wine at WallaWallaWine.com/event/online-wine.
“In this time of uncertainty, one thing remains true – there will be a time to once again come together and celebrate the wines of the Walla Walla Valley,” Hansen wrote. “We look forward to raising our glasses with you. Until then, we’ll stay virtually connected and send best wishes for your health and safety.”