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Globally Celebrated Winemakers Announced for Merlot Panel and Collaborative Dinners of Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine – The World of Merlot


Global wine panel and exclusive dinners to be held June 16 as part of sixth annual event in Walla Walla, Washington

WALLA WALLA, WA – Tickets are on sale now for Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine – The World of Merlot Wine Panel Presentations & Tastings and the Collaborative Winemaker Dinner Series, taking place on June 16.

Winemakers from Bordeaux, Sonoma and Napa Valley join Walla Walla winemakers and wine grape growers for a rare opportunity to taste Merlots from the wide-range of producers. The Celebrate Wine Panel Presentation and Tastings, moderated by local winemaker Ashley Trout, will demonstrate how wines can vary among the world’s leading regions resulting from different growing conditions, winemaking styles, and vineyards through the educational seminar and tasting. Attendees will get to taste Merlot from all six producers: 

  • Jean-François Pellet, Winemaker and Partner | Pepper Bridge Winery, Walla Walla Valley
  • Sadie Drury, Viticulture Manager | SeVein/Seven Hills Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley
  • Jason Magnaghi, Vineyard Manager | Leonetti Cellar, Walla Walla Valley
  • Emmanuelle dAligny-Fulchi, Enologist/Technical Manager | Château Angélus & Château Bellevue, Bordeaux, France
  • Sally Johnson, Winemaker | Pride Mountain Vineyards, St. Helena, CA
  • Jeff Bundschu, President | Gundlach Bundschu, Sonoma, CA

“This year’s panel participants offer incredible diversity,” said Ashley Riggs, Chief Operating Officer of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance. “For many, the Celebrate Wine Panel is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to taste wines and hear directly from these premium producers.”

The Wine Panel Presentations and Tastings take place on Saturday, June 16 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the historic Marcus Whitman Hotel.

To conclude the Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine – The World of Merlot series of events, guests can now purchase tickets for the Saturday night Collaborative Winemaker Dinner Series. Ticket holders will experience an exclusive evening in the Walla Walla Valley as winemakers and local and guest chefs band together to create extraordinary, intimate, food and wine experiences. A limited number of seats are offered at the dinner tables of seven locations throughout the Walla Walla Valley: 

  • Join Lagana Cellars, Otis Kenyon Wine and DAMA Wines in beautiful Downtown Walla Walla for the Downtown Progressive Dinner. As guests progress down Main Street, they will taste a variety of wines paired with bites from some of Walla Walla’s finest chefs. Dine & sip with winemakers Jason Fox, Dave Stephenson and Mary Derby, while enjoying appetizers crafted by Paul Vandervort of Il Forno and dinner prepared by Michael Kline of Walla Walla Bread Company.
  • It’s been over 16 years since the premiere of Sideways, but here in Washington we never stopped believing in that noble grape – Merlot. Celebrate Walla Walla with the winemakers from Northstar, Solemn Cellars and Gifford Hirlinger for a fantastic five-course, gourmet dinner prepared by Chef Adam Hegsted of Eat Good Group paired with Walla Walla wines, including some amazing Merlots. Dinner hosted by Northstar.
  • Winemakers from Sleight of Hand Cellars, Va Piano Vineyards, Pride Mountain Vineyards of Napa Valley and Gundlach Bundschu of Sonoma Valley will revel guests with a multi-course, wine-paired extravaganza crafted by Chef Andrae Bopp of Andrae’s Kitchen and featuring wines from Walla Walla, Sonoma and Napa Valley. Experience a rockin’ dinner hosted at Sleight of Hand Cellars.
  • Join Tempus Cellars along with neighbors Tamarack Cellars and Five Star Cellars at their brand-new C Street location. Cugini Italian Market will delight dinner guests with a wonderful, multi-course meal paired perfectly with outstanding, award-winning wines.  
  • Winemakers Mike Sharon and Kevin Mott of L’Ecole N° 41 and Woodward Canyon will share their wines as guests get a preview of the menu from the new Walla Walla Steak Company, opening downtown this summer. Appetizers in the garden will be followed by a multi-course meal as the sun sets across the fields.
  • Armstrong Family Winery, Kontos Cellars, Eternal Wines and Foundry Vineyards team up with Executive Chef Grant Hinderliter and his Culinary Team to pair a diverse, four -course dinner at the historic Marcus Whitman Hotel.
  • Walla Walla Vintners, Aluvé Winery, Seven Hills Winery and Watermill Winery create an intimate evening not to be missed! Guests can take in the picturesque views from the Cut Bank Estate vineyard at Walla Walla Vintners while pairing classic wines with exciting food by Candace Navarre of Forage Walla Walla. The farm-to-table menu will focus on locally sourced and organically grown ingredients and accompanied by an exquisite selection of wines from some of the Valley’s most revered wineries. Outdoor dining if weather permits.

“The Winemaker Dinner Series is truly the grand finale of the Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine event series,” said Ashley Riggs, Chief Operating Officer of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance. “Winemakers and chefs collaborate to delight guests with exceptional food and wine, while creating memories that that will be cellared for years to come.”

The Winemaker Dinner Series will be held on Saturday, June 16, from 6:00-9:00 p.m., tickets are $125 per person for the dinner of the purchaser’s choice. All Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine events are for persons of ages 21 and over.

Schedule at a Glance

Thursday, June 14, 2018
Vintage Pour | 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Friday, June 15, 2018
World of Merlot: Kick-Off Event | 9:00-10:30 a.m.
Merlot Grand Wine Tasting | 1:30-3:30 p.m. 
The Previews: Taste & Talk with Rex Pickett 
| 6:00-7:00 p.m.
Movie Screening: Sideways | 7:15-9:30 p.m.
The Author’s Table: Dinner with Rex Pickett | 7:30-10:00 p.m.

Saturday, June 16, 2018
Wine Panel Presentations and Tastings | 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Collaborative Winemaker dinner series throughout the Walla Walla Valley | 6:00-9:00 p.m.

Tickets are now on sale at www.CelebrateWallaWalla.com.

About Celebrate Walla Walla Valley

Formed by the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance in 2013, Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine is the region’s signature wine event held annually in June. The event series is structured to showcase a different wine varietal each year, historically focusing on Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot. Over the course of three days, the events demonstrate how wines can vary among the world’s leading regions resulting from different growing conditions, winemaking styles, and vineyards through special tastings of rare vintage wines, educational seminars, and one-of-a-kind winemaker dinners. 

About the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance

The Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance is a non-profit wine industry membership organization whose primary mission is to build an internationally acclaimed Walla Walla Valley wine brand among consumers, media, and trade by providing marketing programs on behalf of member wineries, vineyards, and partners.  The Wine Alliance functions as the leading informational resource for consumers, media and trade interested in learning more about the Valley’s wine industry.



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