One Wine Weekend: Vintage Walla Walla & Entwine
May 6, 2011 by Doug Haugen
Greater Than the Sum of its Parts
In 1928, Harry Burnett Reese, a foreman for Milton S. Hershey and a dairy farmer, got inspired by Hershey’s candies and headed down to the basement of his house, emerging again with his newly invented Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Combining peanut butter with Hershey’s chocolate, it was the beginning of a new candy empire, the H.B. Reese Candy Co., later obtained by The Hershey Company. Finding two great things that are even better together, Reese stumbled upon the maxim, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
In much the same way, the folks at the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance (WWVWA) took a good look at two great wine events in Walla2, and combined them through a process of logistical alchemy, formulating the new One Wine Weekend. Like chocolate and peanut butter, the combination of the Vintage Walla Walla and Entwine events results in one colossal, delicious wine gig that’s greater than the sum of its parts.
Before I get into the details of the event, let me just say that when we toured Walla Walla last, we spent three gorgeous days zipping from winery to winery as fast as we could, trying to see as many as possible before time ran out like we were going for the grand prize of Supermarket Sweep with nothing but wine in our baskets. And, while you can’t throw a cork in Walla Walla without hitting a winemaker, it still would have been great (logistically speaking) to round ‘em all up, talk to them and sip their wines without running around like our pants were on fire.
I thought it was like somewhere someone had been listening when Taste Walla Walla came to Seattle. It was a great chance to try a whole lot of Walla2 wine poured by a whole lot of Walla2 winemakers in one room, and it was a fantastic event. Turns out, though, that I missed the context of Walla Walla. I missed drinking wine in the historic downtown, and in tasting rooms scattered around the Airport District and South Walla. It’s not hard to see how you can get more of a sense of place when you’re smack-dab in the middle of that place.
And, that’s why I’m so thrilled about the upcoming One Wine Weekend.
The weekend kicks off on Friday, October 15, with two separate Vintage Pour Receptions. At each of the receptions, winemakers will be pulling vintage bottles from their libraries and personal stashes to share. You can rub elbows with the winemakers while munching on hors d’ oeuvres crafted specifically to each of the vintage wines. The VIP ticket option gets you into both receptions, each featuring a dozen different wineries along with musician and “Head Wine Guy” Paul Gregutt. It’s not often that you get the chance to visit past vintages of the wines you love unless you had the foresight to buy a case from each winery each year, and not drink it all. If you’re like me, the concept of maintaining a treasury of wine this way is outside the realm of possibility, and these Vintage Pour Receptions are like the golden fleece.
From there, you’ll head out via shuttle to the scenic Waters Winery for the Welcome Barbecue. There, you’ll get to hang out with forty winemakers pouring their current releases. Five of them will be grilling up a storm, and you will vote for the “Master of the Grill” in the VIKING Grill-Off. I can’t think of anything better than a summertime barbecue in Walla Walla where the grub and the juice flow and you get to spend time getting to know the people that keep wine on your table all year long.
On Saturday, you can start out with a downtown walking tour with the Walla Walla Downtown Association. You’ll learn about the history of Walla Walla, visit local shops and tasting rooms, the farmer’s market, and the historical Marcus Whitman Hotel. This is no small thing. Not only will you benefit from a good walk after last night’s festivities, but you’ll also learn about the rich and regal history of this gorgeous town. You get your first sense of it just by looking out the windows of your car, and then more so by walking around–the amazing colonial architecture, the quaint streets, the storefronts–and in this walking tour, you’ll get to walk around and learn about it with a better guide than Google.
You’ve now earned yourself an afternoon of free time. Head out to wineries, visit restaurants, or take a nap. It’s your choice. But, be sure you’re fresh and rearin’ to go Saturday evening, because the next big deal is the Entwine Auction.
Beginning in 2003 as a benefit for the new Center for Enology and Viticulture in Walla Walla, the auction has continued as a fundraiser for scholarship money specifically for Walla Walla Community College’s Enology & Viticulture, Culinary Arts and Art students. The evening features a reception and silent auction while you enjoy small bites and pours of wineries’ current releases, followed by a multi-course formal dinner featuring food made from ingredients from local producers and live auction. The live auction will be emceed by Washington celebrity John Curley, and you’ll also hear music from the Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival.
The auction is a joint effort between the Walla Walla Community College Foundation, Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance (WWVWA) and ArtWalla. Included in the items up for auction are art pieces by seven artists who were commissioned to create interpretive works of art from wine barrels. These art pieces can be seen on display at wineries around Walla Walla starting May 27.
On Sunday, your schedule is free. See more wineries. See more of the local flavor before heading home. The day is yours; you’ve earned it.
One Wine Weekend is a celebration of Walla Walla wine, history and culture. And it promises to be delicious. There are a couple of different ticket options, depending on what you’d like to participate in. To get your tix, head here. Then, have an amazing time in Walla Walla.