Walla Walla wine celebration recapped

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Visitors came from Massachusetts, Ohio, Texas, Tennessee, California and even Hawaii to taste what Walla Walla has to offer last month.

The Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine event drew attendees 472 attendees from all over the country, according to a retrospective from the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance.

The nonprofit wine marketing organization is toasting the June 20-22 event as a success after refocusing the previous Vintage wine event and turning into one with a little different direction and format.

The Celebrate event now focuses on one main variety — this year was cabernet sauvignon — and compares those from the Walla Walla Valley with those from some of the world’s other leading wine producing regions.

In the past, attendees purchased a ticket that provided access to an array of events, from winemaker dinners to panel discussions, throughout the weekend. This year’s event allowed people to purchase tickets to individual events of their choice. Attendees purchased 905 tickets to six different events throughout the weekend, the wine alliance reported.

More than 65 percent of the attendees came from more than 50 miles away.

“This is a great testament to the attraction of not only the Celebrate event, but also our wines and the Walla Walla community,” wine alliance Executive Director Duane Wollmuth said in the report.

Attendees got to compare cabernet sauvignon wines between Walla Walla and Napa valleys in a panel presentation with three winemakers from each region: Rick Small of Woodward Canyon, Chris Figgins of Leonetti Cellar and Jean Francois Pellet of Pepper Bridge Winery in Walla Walla, and Phillip Corallo-Titus of Chappellet, Jeff Ames of Rudius and Landon Donley of Spottswoode Estate Winery in Napa. Other presentations and appearances came from Patrick Comiskey of “Wine & Spirits Magazine” and Paul Gregutt of a consultant, blogger and writer for “Wine Enthusiast” as well as geologist and wine industry consultant Dr. Kevin Pogue.

Headline sponsors were Banner Bank and “Wine & Spirits Magazine.” The city of Walla Walla, Port of Walla Walla, Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Walla Walla Foundation and Tourism Walla Walla also contributed to the event.

Next year’s focus will be on syrah. Guest syrah winemakers are expected to be announced by early fall. Next year’s event will be June 19-21.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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