Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine Explores Syrah

Whether you are sommelier or an aspiring oenophile (a lover of wine), there’s only one place you should be June 15-17th: In Walla Walla, Washington for Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine: The World of Syrah (Celebrate).

“Wine makes every meal an occasion, every table more elegant, every day more civilized.” ― Andre Simon, wine connoisseur, historian and writer

The fifth annual Celebrate features over 60 Walla Walla Valley (WWV) wineries, Washington winemakers, internationally-renowned winemakers, and master sommeliers and chefs.

Organized by the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance, Celebrate focuses on a different wine varietal each year (a rotation of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot), comparing the similarities and differences of WWV with the world’s leading wine regions. This year’s star is “The world of Syrah.” With the exception of the kick-off on June 16th, all events require paid tickets, which vary in price. If you want to attend every event, you will need to get tickets now.

celebrate walla walla valley wineSyrah is a big-bodied, dry red wine. Not only is Syrah flavor-packed, but it’s also one of the darkest colored inky wines you can find. Deep purple in hue with minimum translucency, Syrah’s violet and velvety elegance is backed by big fruit and crunchy spice. When you taste it, you’ll be greeted with a punch of flavor that tapers off and then has a spicy peppery note in the aftertaste.

Climate plays a critical role in determining the flavor of Syrah wines. Moderate climates like WWV tend to produce medium to full-bodied wines with medium-plus to high levels of tannins and notes of blackberry, mint and black pepper.

The 2017 Celebrate event launches Thursday, June 15th with a Vintage Pour tasting (tickets $85) at Canoe Ridge Vineyard. The evening features a limited number of WWV wines from the 2010 vintage or earlier. Vintage Pour guests are invited to taste rare and unique bottles. Some of the wines are more than 10 years old, aging beautifully, and impossible to experience outside this event.

Celebrate Walla Walla Valley WineThe following morning, Friday, June 16th, “Wine & Spirits” Senior Correspondent, Patrick Comiskey and Master Sommelier/Master of Wine, Doug Frost will serve as keynote speakers for a kick-off session at the historic Gesa Power House Theatre in downtown Walla Walla. Although all other events require paid tickets, the kick-off is complimentary.

Following Friday’s kick-off, Frost will moderate an afternoon panel discussion with winemakers (tickets are required) from the WWV; Yarra Valley, Australia; and Napa Valley, California. Geologist Kevin Pogue will start the panel with a talk on terroir (how a particular region’s climate, soils and terrain affect the taste of wine). Participants will then have an opportunity to compare the growing conditions and wine styles from each region, while tasting Syrah from all the producers.

June 16th’s celebration culminates with a Syrah Grand Tasting & Dinner at Whitman College (tickets are required).

The grand finale of Celebrate is the Winemaker dinner series which takes place throughout WWV. There are a total of six dinners/venues from which to choose. It’s an intimate setting: only 40 seats are available for each of the six dinners. One is already sold out, so don’t tarry. Secure your ticket(s) and learn more details at www.CelebrateWallaWalla.com

Although wines are not available for sale at Celebrate events, you can visit winery tasting rooms and purchase your favorites.

Remember the 4-S’s—See it, swirl it, smell it, sip it. Let’s add a 5th – savor it. And please restrain yourself [pun alert] from breaking into a chorus of “Case Syrah, Syrah.”

Celebrate Walla Walla Schedule:

Thursday, June 15, 2017
4:30-6:30pm, Vintage Pour | Canoe Ridge Vineyard | Tickets: $85

Friday, June 16, 2017
8:30-10am, Kick-off Event | Gesa Power House Theater | Complimentary Tickets
3-5pm, Winemaker Panel Presentations/Tastings | Marcus Whitman Hotel |Tickets: $65
5:30-9pm, Syrah Grand Tasting & Dinner | Whitman College | Tickets: $125

Saturday, June 17, 2017
6-9pm, Winemaker Dinners around the Walla Walla Valley | Tickets: $125

Celebrate Walla Walla Winemaker Dinner Choices:

  • Passatempo Taverna Wine Studio will create a rustic four-course Italian dinner paired with wines by The Walls Vineyards and Delmas, focusing on Syrahs from the Walla Walla Valley’s sub-AVA, The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater.
  • Woodward Canyon and L’Ecole No. 41 will host a progressive dinner with appetizers by Chef Sager Small of Woodward Canyon’s Reserve House, and a four-course meal created by Chef Rich Koby of Fat Duck Inn and Plow & Vine at L’Ecole No. 41.
  • Chef Jake Crenshaw of Olive Marketplace and Café will collaborate with Dunham Cellars, Amavi Cellars, and Dusted Valley Vintners to prepare dinner with creatively paired wines from all three producers.
  • Kontos Cellars, Skylite Cellars, Ardor Cellars, and Solemn Cellars will collaborate with Chef Emry of The “Q” to put together a dinner paired with their personality-driven wines. It will be held at the Kontos Cellars’ tasting room in the heart of downtown Walla Walla.
  • Chef Zoe Shaw of Rhizome Feasts will provide a farm-to-table dinner featuring fresh local ingredients at Tranche Cellars along with Walla Walla Vintners and Aluvé at the base of the Blue Mountains.
  • Winemakers Trey Busch and Jamie Brown of Sleight of Hand Cellars and Waters Winery and Chefs Andrae Bopp and Joshua Henderson of Andrae’s Kitchen and Huxley Wallace Collective.

Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine is a month away. Get your tickets now! Tickets and more info are available by visiting www.CelebrateWallaWalla.com. This is a splendid getaway. Take a couple days off and enjoy Walla Walla.




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Starla Smith

Starla Smith

Starla Smith is a career journalist, writing features for such publications as The New Yorker, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Daily News, The Des Moines Register, Vibe and a prize-winning Gannett Newspaper. She helped launch Theater Week Magazine and eventually became its publisher. As a regular contributor to Playbill, her interviews and photos were featured in Playbill and Playbill-on-line. Smith was featured in the New York Times "Style" section for her "Word Portraits," specialized tributes, speeches, and presentation profiles. And she covered theater and features for City Search, Digital City, and the Tena Duberry WOW! Radio show. She previously served as astrology guru for Out Magazine, and she hastens to assure her readers that "Starla" is indeed her real name.

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