Four years ago there was a notable change at the TASTE of GSBA when we switched our beverage focus to world-class Washington wines. Previously we had served an assortment of wine, but 2011 was the first time we featured local wineries and had several wine makers in attendance. This year we will have our biggest wine district ever, with wines from across our state and winemakers hosting tables for an upgraded wine experience. With that in mind, a small group from the GSBA including CEO Louise Chernin and partner Mary, Director of Programs & Fund Development Mark Rosén and husband Matt, and Board Member Dena Levine and husband Ron, took some vacation time and travelled to eastern Washington to thank some of our far-flung sponsors and donors and to make new connections with more wine and tourism resources.
Our stay began in the birthplace of Washington wine, Prosser. Longtime supporter Debbie Haggerty Augustavo welcomed us at her lovely guest house, the Seven Gables, just a stone’s throw from the Vintner’s Village, where you can walk between over half a dozen wineries. We started our day with a visit to Pontin del Roza where we met with winemaker Scott Pontin and his husband and enjoyed the view from his patio and bocce court. Next we visited the Walter Clore Center which honors one of the founders of the Washington wine industry and features tastings from our unique AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) on a rotating basis. Tasting room manager April Reddout made sure we had a great experience and we left not only with wine , but also with a generous donation to the TASTE auction. We ended our day basking in the warmth of the sunset reflecting off the Horse Heaven Hills as we dined on superb food at Wine O’clock, paired with some outstanding Bunnell wines. Watch for a package at TASTE featuring a stay at Seven Gables, bocce ball and tastings at Pontin del Roza and the Clore Center and more!
Our second day brought us to the world-renowned Red Mountain AVA with stunning views and unique growing conditions. Hightower, Fidelitas, and Kiona were on our list and none disappointed. Look for Fidelitas pouring in our Wine District at TASTE. From the sunny slopes of Red Mountain we headed to what some call the “Napa of Washington” – Walla Walla. Waterbrook Winery, located just east of Walla Walla, is one of the most beautiful settings you can imagine. We dined on the patio, sipping rosé, admiring the architecture, and appreciating the wonderful service as the guests of Precept Brands, one of our new TASTE sponsors. Waterbrook, Brown and Canoe Ridge will all be at the TASTE and we have a fabulous stay at the Waterbrook bungalows to auction off as well.
Saturday was devoted entirely to Walla Walla! With our great drivers from Whitman College – Phil and Bri – at the helm, we were free to enjoy all that Walla Walla has to offer. Beginning with a visit to Tranche, we knew we were in for some of the best. Va Piano, with its beautiful setting so evocative of Tuscany, served some of the outstanding wines they are so well known for. Sleight of Hand offered the perfect setting for a little picnic break and more rosé and then it was off to a private tour and tasting at Corliss that blew us away the moment we walked into the restored warehouse which has been transformed into a luxurious tasting room, production facility, and private residence. I couldn’t resist purchasing a large-format bottle to donate to our wine auction, so some lucky wine lover will be very happy!
So much wine, so many wineries, but most importantly so many friends, old and new (Tamara at Owen Roe, Two Mountain, Clore Center) who were all generous when they heard about our mission to support our Scholarship Fund, including so many recipients from eastern Washington. We now know for certain that when we say Greater” Seattle Business Association, the “Greater” means our family, friends, donors, and supporters from all over the state who we had the pleasure to meet over the weekend. We are already planning next year’s trade mission, so if you love travel and love wine and food (who doesn’t!) then ask about joining us in 2016.