Time to celebrate – March is Washington State Wine Month! Wineries and retail outlets will have “special sales and events” throughout the month. It’s a great time to restock your wine cellar and save money at the same time during this annual event.
Well, sigh, it is over, until next year. Yes, the wine society’s annual Best-of-the-Festival Gala Wine Dinner is history, but what another wonderful evening it was. For those who enjoy a dining experience, this annual society event – this year, Saturday, January 27 – was just that.
As I said to 2 guests, it is an opportunity to get dressed up and go “up town” for an evening.
More than 40 society members and guests attended the event, and the overwhelming feedback on comment cards was consistent with what one guest wrote, “Thank you for a great experience.” From the welcoming, to the ambiance, to the service, wine and food, it was an opportunity to just relax and enjoy for an evening.
It is also always interesting to learn what those attending an event such as this chose as their favorite wine, and wine/food pairing. The strong wine favorite – the 2015 Longship Cellars Invader Tempranillo. However, by an almost 3-to-1 margin, the favorite wine and food pairing – the crème brulee dessert and 2017 College Cellars Muscat. Interestingly, the Muscat as the 2017
Tri-Cities Wine Festival Best-of-Show winner was a surprise to many, and just the third-place favorite at the dinner. However, paired with the crème brulee, it was the hands-down winner of the night!
Also an evening winner – Tim Donahue, director of winemaking, College Cellars of Walla Walla! Saying that he has “more ambition than brains,” Tim highlighted his career path – from his family’s Creekside Cellars in Colorado to Australia and College Cellars. The college’s hands on and “just go out and do it” approach to teaching its students about the entire wine industry – from planting, growing and harvesting grapes to running the business side of a winery – is continuing to bring recognition to the school through the awards and recognitions graduates have and continue to receive. Keeping the industry in perspective, Tim described growing grapes and making wine as “glorified farming” and a “blue-collar, trade job.” He thanked the wine society for its support – a donation for scholarships and allowing the college to participate in the annual Tri-Cities Wine Festival – and added, “Making great wines pales in comparison to making great people.”
So now, memories, and a look head. From one event attendee, “Had a good time. Look forward to the event each year. Thank you, Dolly. Thank you, Meadow Springs!”
Yes, thank you, Dolly!
To kick off the holiday celebrations, 51 members enjoyed the wine society’s sold-out “sparkling
refresher!” The Allied Arts Association Gallery on the Park, Richland, was decorated to create a splendid Christmas holiday spirit that provided a festive atmosphere for the “refresher.”
It seemed everyone enjoyed listening to our speaker, Juergen Grieb, Treveri Cellars owner and winemaker. He talked about his background and his winery – to date, the only winery in Washington State devoted exclusively to sparkling wine. He presented information about the process for making sparkling wine. Guests also had the opportunity to talk with him one-on-one throughout the event.
To start things off, guests were greeted with a sparkling Riesling Mojito. This was followed by tastings of a variety of sparkling wines from around the world: Veuve Cliquot, France; Bohigas Brut Cava, Spain; Tesoro della Regina Prosecco, Italy; Black Chook Sparkling Shiraz, Australia; Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut, California; and Washington State, Treveri Cellars’ Brut Blanc de Noirs, Sparkling Gewürztraminer, and Sparkling Syrah Brut. The wines were all different, but all equally delightful.
Sparkling wine is often considered to be the perfect pairing with food. So, Amy Davis, our event caterer, prepared delicious, and plentiful, appetizers that included: marinated chicken skewers with roasted garlic and herbs; sausage skewers; mini shrimp quiches; mini mushrooms and Jarlsberg cheese quiches; panini bites with fire-roasted tomato jam, manchego, arugula and ham; and, baked brie with holiday garnish. But, equally appealing – society member Kurt Ammann’s dessert tortes! Thank you, Amy and Kurt!
The silent auction, and the drawing for gold-medal-winning wines from the 2017 Tri-Cities Wine Festival, brought in more than $800, which will be applied to scholarships for students in area enology and/or viticulture programs.
Tri-Cities Wine Society President's Ted Davis Message
The 39th Annual Tri-Cities Wine Festival is behind us! I want to thank all who supported and attended the event. This year 74 winery labels were represented with 373 wines entered for judging. The judging took place during the first week of November with a panel of 7 professional judges: Shelly Fitzgerald, Seattle; Tim McNally, New Orleans; Harry McWatters, Summerland, B.C.; Brad Smith, Grandview; Don Galleano, Mira Loma, California; Jerry Bookwalter and Coke Roth, Tri-Cities. This year’s judging resulted in a record number of silver medals – 205; 93 gold medals – a tie from a previous festival; and, with 46 double golds, another record. More information about the judges and the complete list of festival award winners are on the society’s website, www.tricitieswinesociety.com.
The festival culminated with the November 11 gala public tasting event at the Three Rivers Convention Center. Besides the wines entered for judging, the gala included food, a microbrew, live entertainment and a silent auction. The festival was simply an incredible event. Looking ahead, mark your calendars now for the 40th Tri-Cities Wine Festival, Three Rivers Convention Center. The date is being finalized, either November 10 or 17. Stay tuned.
Special thanks go out to the festival’s core team members: Dolly Ammann; Mary Binder; Blaine Hulse; Mary Peters; and, Debra Ticknor. Collectively, they worked tirelessly for months starting in January to prepare for the wine judging, public tasting and silent auction. Thanks also go out to the dozens of volunteers who supported everything from recruiting wineries, to getting donations for the silent auction, to assisting with the wine judging and preparations for Saturday’s public event. More thank yous to the wineries, businesses and individuals who donated items for the silent auction. And finally, a special thank you to our partners – the professional staff at the Three Rivers Convention Center. We could not have this quality event without them.
October 15 – a different type event for the Tri-Cities Wine Society! Yes, our own “Oktoberfest!” And, from the comment cards, many members enjoyed mingling and meeting other members, both new and old.
The fest started with pours of 2 different ciders courtesy of D’s Wicked Cider in Kennewick. Anthoni Garcia, Cider House manager, poured and enlightened us on the beverages. We received several positive comments regarding having hard cider as an entry offering.
An event highlight was the entertainment Pat Holten provided with her accordion! The music really lent the event a festive atmosphere and helped get everyone in the mood. Thank you, Pat!
Another event offering was beer! Ice Harbor Brewing donated 3 different beers – a nut brown ale; a tangerine Hefeweisen; and, a Kolsch. We also received several positive comments on offering beer; and, we had a split with half enjoying the beers vs. the wines with the German brats and pretzels with a cheese beer dip and mustard.
Most event attendees liked the concept of mingling with bistro-style tables. However, a number of attendees cited a lack of chairs and tables for sitting and eating. We also received a lot of positive reinforcement for guests being able to choose the order of the beers, wines and foods.
As to the wines, the 2014 Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards Grüner Veltliner from the Rogue Valley, Ore., and the 2014 Kiona Vineyards Red Mountain Lemberger seemed to be the favorites from comments heard at the event. While some of the German/Bavarian wines did not garner many accolades, there was consensus that they tasted better with the food.
Speaking of food, the CG Public House food was well received and rated “excellent” on the comment cards.
Favorites were the German potato salad, the crostini, the lentil soup and, of course, the brats!
All in all, the meeting and mingling of guests was
successful. We would also like to thank all the volunteers who helped pour and make the event a success.
Until next time, danke schoen und auf wiedersehen!
The society’s event Friday, September 15 – a first-time concept featuring society chefs – was enjoyed by all. One comment, in particular, summed it up well: “Lovely evening, good company, good food and wine.”
The idea was born at one of our events when one person brainstormed the idea of society members (aka “chefs”) cooking for an event! So, a special thank you to the 8 chefs who showcased their culinary talents, and selected a wine varietal to pair with their creation. Here is a recap:
Most enjoyed the food/wine pairings. The favorite pairings were the mushrooms and Merlot followed by the ribs and Syrah; but in the words of Coke Roth (Northwest Wine Press,” Fall 2017), “Wine pairing is best considered not as a wine and food pairing, but as wine and occasion pairing, or wine and mood pairing.” This description fits this occasion.
The event was sold out and we’re sorry we could not accommodate those on the waiting list. From comments – look for a repeat in a year or 2, and then, sign up early!
Those who could fit this food and wine dinner into their schedules on July 15 were well rewarded with an excellent evening. Dolly Ammann lived up to her reputation – putting on quality, classy events that also uphold a society goal to educate its members about wine. Attendees now know much more about Greek wines, including where they grow throughout the country and the varietals. As one member wrote on the comment card, “Appreciated all of your work [Dolly] – delicious and informative.”
The event was rated excellent and above average as was Dolly’s PowerPoint presentation. “Great production,” wrote one member.
The food was very good in both quality and quantity. In fact, the majority of guests recommended that we return to the CG Public House for a future event. As one guest wrote, “One of the best events I have been to. Great food.”
(Note: The society will return to CG Public House for its Oktoberfest event!)
So, what were the favorite wines – as is often typical at society events, the responses were extremely varied with some favoring reds and others the whites. Each wine received at least one vote as someone’s favorite … even the dessert wine. “Lovely meal and wine was incredible. Great job! Loved the dessert wine,” shared one guest on a comment card.
As to the food and wine pairings, here again the responses varied, which is OK as palates are different. Interestingly, all 3 reds went well with the beef, lamb and moussaka entrée for most guests and several people mentioned how much they liked the red Driopi that was served with the dessert.
Once again, members appreciate the relaxed atmosphere, and pleasant and good conversations. After all isn’t this another society goal – promoting new friends and a shared interest? In summing up the evening, one guest wrote, “This was one of the best. Thanks for a great evening.”
They came for something different or because they love sake, and left with new knowledge and smiles. A congenial group of curious-minded individuals gathered June 25 at Fat Olives in Richland where J.D. Nolan and his crew paired a variety of sake and food. Sipping sake cold on a very hot day was quite enjoyable, and something different, for many.
While learning was a focus for the afternoon with the sake-making process and terms explained, the atmosphere remained casual and there was plenty of time to chat with other society members. Speaking of members – it was very nice to see several newer society members at this event! The casual atmosphere and time to chat offered an opportunity for some newer members tot learn more about the society, how it operates, how events are put together and volunteer opportunities. As one such member said, “I love the society and these events.”
Comments received reinforced what is known for other wines – palates differ, and that is OK! While some guests enjoyed the citrus-glazed chicken and Momokawa Diamond, others preferred the pork shank with mushroom demi-glace and Kasumi Tsuru/Kimoto Extra Dry-style sake. Then, too, several people mentioned that the Moonstone Coconut Lemongrass and cheesecake was their favorite.
So, yes, the sake and food – a tasting and comparing – event was something different for the wine society. However, from comments and smiles, another successful event.
“In the big picture, the society is in excellent shape, including its finances,” said Tri-Cities Wine SocietyPresident Ted Davis at the society’s annual meeting, Sunday, May 21, Horn Rapids Golf Course Clubhouse. President Davis presided over a brief business meeting that included an overview of the “state of the society,” and society treasurer and public relations reports. He also shared that the society: had a number of sellout events this past year; increased membership; upgraded its website; and provided 2, $3,000 scholarships for students in area enology and/or viticulture programs. In looking to the year ahead, society goals will continue to focus on having successful wine events, increasing general and board membership, and continuing to provide scholarships to students in local enology and/or viticulture programs.
Vice President Dolly Ammann conducted the annual election of board members. All board members up for re-election were re-elected, along with the election of 2 new board members. Welcome Tony Sharpe and Pete Tice!
Nancy Beitel, a long-time society member and past board member, received the award for attending the most society events this past year. She will receive a free society membership for this year. Way to go, Nancy!
To taste and enjoy – a selection of silver and gold medal wines from past Tri-Cites Wine Festivals and a selection of delicious appetizers from Chef Amy Davis. Amy, an Oregon Culinary Institute graduate and daughter of Ted and Judith Davis, did an outstanding job. Thank you, Amy!
While enjoying the food and wine, attendees worked, by tables, on a group wine-trivia challenge. This was an educational exercise everyone seemed to enjoy and that left them asking for more wine trivia challenges at future events.
Besides meeting the society’s bylaws requirement for an annual meeting, the event program’s primary focus was to encourage member volunteerism and participation in the society’s monthly events, and to get ideas for future events – all “part of a board experiment.” Members looked at the remaining 2017 events, and potential events and ideas for 2018. We received a very enthusiastic response, with many signing up to volunteer and help plan 2017/2018 events, and suggesting ideas for future events. Thank you to all!
In summary it was a productive meeting and a very enjoyable afternoon. Thanks to all the event volunteers, and to all who took the time to participate in our planning survey. Your ideas will help keep our society’s events fresh, exciting and educational.
A new venue for the Tri-Cities Wine Society’s April event – the Tri-Cities Tap & Barrel House in south Richland. The event featured wines rated 90 and above by Wine Spectator and that cost under $30 retail. The consensus from the 44 attendees, both society members and guests, was that the wines were well worth their ratings. Many attendees commented on how much they liked the wines.
There were 3 flights of red wines – Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Guests commented that they liked having all red wines, and enjoyed comparing Washington wines, paired with food, with others from California and Oregon. Some even discovered new favorites.
The wine flights were accompanied by several tapas, including a meat and cheese plate with salad, 2 flatbreads with different toppings, and pork sliders. Many attendees also commented that the food was excellent and paired well with the wines.
Feedback regarding this new venue – friendly and attractive. In fact, a number of individuals commented that they did not know about this tap and barrel house! The one drawback, however, was that it was noisy with the number of people, making it difficult to hear and carry on a conversation. In hindsight, using the society’s portable sound amplification system might have been useful in minimizing this issue. However, people still found the event to be very enjoyable, in a relaxed atmosphere, with good service, and great food and wine.
Thanks to Cher Case for her hard work in putting this event together. It was a great idea.
[Editor’s note: And from Cher Case, a personal thanks to Chuck and Sue McCargar for their help!]