Cupcakes, beer make splash at Feast

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WALLA WALLA - Cupcakes and beer made their debut among the fine foods and wines at this year's Feast Walla Walla.

But unknown to many local oenophiles, beer has already debuted in many local wineries, sometimes through the back door, said brew master Court Ruppenthal.

As the owner of Laht Neppur Brewing Co. in Waitsburg, Ruppenthal said he does a number of regular deliveries to Walla Walla wineries, which usually buy his 21/2-gallon "pigs" for their own personal consumption.

"It's kind of a route. When someone is getting one (a pig), I will call and see if other guys need one," and usually they do, he added.

Apparently Feast Walla Walla needed a couple pigs as well, and Ruppenthal noted coordinators approached him about selling his beer at this year's event. But instead of pigs, he brought two dozen 64-ounce growlers of his peach hefeweizen or his India pale ale.

"We actually have wanted to have beer here because we have so many good micro breweries in the area," event coordinator Jennifer Northam said, adding that Feast Walla Walla is a reflection of the best food and drink the Valley has to offer, including beer.

It turns out other wineries at Feast Walla Walla are also tapping into local beer products.

Recently, Sapolil Cellars in Downtown Walla Walla started selling beer to its customers, including Ruppenthal's beers.

And while Ruppenthal was being interviewed, the owner of Walla Walla Village Winery came over and had his wine goblet filled with the peach hefeweizen.

"We get a pig every once in a while from him," Walla Walla Village Winery Owner Irish Clark said.

If all goes as planned, they'll be getting and selling a lot more than a few pigs.

Clark explained he is currently obtaining the permits to allow beer sales at his winery, and added it is obvious to him a good number of his customers prefer beer.

"Some of the guys want a beer. They have been tasting wine all day long ... The look on their faces. A lot of the guys are beer drinkers and they want to sit and watch a game and drink a beer," Clark said.

"It's one more niche, one more thing to bring in people," he added.

As for the culinary delicacies most appreciated by kids - cupcakes - the Walla Walla Bread Company is now offering a gourmet line of them, alongside the scones, muffins and pecan rolls.

At Feast Walla Walla on Saturday, cupcake baker Marisa Wachter brought 200 cupcakes in two flavors: dark chocolate and red wine ganache, and maple cream cheese and bacon.

"I just started at home playing around with these things," Wachter said, adding that the official name of her cupcake line is daVine Delights.

Bread Company co-owner Rachel Kline noted cupcakes are the craze in big cities, where they are ornately decorated and come in more adult-oriented flavors like pia colada.

"Cupcakes are now the in thing. They even have cupcake carts in New York," Kline added.

For a couple of weeks, Wachter has been working the evening shift at the Walla Walla Bread Company to bake a couple of dozen each night.

And whenever possible, she tries to keep them seasonal.

"On St. Patrick's Day we had Guinness cupcakes with Baileys Irish Cream frosting. That was really good," she added.

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