Acclaimed Winemakers and Moderator Announced for Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine – Merlot
Esteemed local and global panelists to headline the Walla Walla Valley’s premier wine event.
WALLA WALLA, WA (May 18, 2023) – More than 60 Walla Walla Valley wineries, guest winemakers from leading wine regions and speakers will headline this year’s Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine – Merlot to be held at various locations throughout the Walla Walla Valley July 13-15, 2023.
Celebrate showcases a different wine varietal each year, comparing and sharing the similarities and differences of the Walla Walla Valley with other leading wine regions around the world.
“Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine – Merlot is the country’s only Merlot-focused wine event,” says Liz Knapke, Executive Director of Walla Walla Valley Wine. “We believe that the Walla Walla Valley produces some of the world’s finest Merlot and are happy to showcase it alongside other acclaimed growing regions that craft the varietal.”
The 2023 Celebrate event series will kick-off Thursday afternoon with an educational discussion at the historic Gesa Power House Theatre in downtown Walla Walla. Tailored to oenophiles, topics will span terroir, growing conditions, and the cultural significance of Merlot.
Thursday evening also includes Vintage Pour hosted in the barrel rooms of L’Ecole N° 41, where guests can sample library wines ranging from 1998 to 2013 from over 30 Walla Walla Valley wineries.
On Friday, visiting winemakers and wine experts will join Walla Walla Valley winemakers to delight guests with a panel discussion and tastes of Merlot from around the globe. Doug Frost, one of three individuals in the world to hold simultaneously the Master of Wine and Master Sommelier titles, will moderate the Wine Panel Presentation and Tasting which demonstrates how wines can vary among the world’s leading regions resulting from different growing conditions and winemaking styles through the educational seminar and tasting. Attendees will get to taste Merlot represented by the panelists:
- John Freeman, Winemaker | Browne Family Vineyards, Walla Walla Valley
- Kelsey Albro Itämeri, Winemaker & Owner| itä wines, Walla Walla Valley
- Marcus Rafanelli, Winemaker | L’Ecole N° 41, Walla Walla Valley
- Kimberlee Nichols, Winemaker | Markham Vineyards, Napa Valley, California
- Rick Bonitati, President & Chief Executive Officer | St. Francis Winery & Vineyards, Sonoma Valley, California
- Aurelio Montes Jr., Chief Winemaker | MONTES, Colchagua Valley, Chile
“The Wine Panel Presentation and Tasting is a unique opportunity to taste Merlot from multiple acclaimed growing regions, side by side, while hearing from the winemakers themselves,” said Liz Knapke, Executive Director of Walla Walla Valley Wine. “Attendees will learn, taste and engage with the hand-picked panel of prominent Merlot winemakers.”
The Wine Panel Presentation and Tasting takes place on Friday, July 14 from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. at the historic Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center.
Friday’s events culminate with the Collaborative Winemaker Dinner Series. Ticket holders will experience an exclusive evening in the Walla Walla Valley as winemakers and chefs band together to create intimate food and wine experiences. A limited number of seats are offered at the dinner tables of ten locations throughout the Walla Walla Valley.
The Celebrate series of events concludes with the Merlot Grand Tasting at The Motor Co. – a newly restored historic venue in downtown Walla Walla. This is the largest organized wine tasting event of the year in the Walla Walla Valley with nearly 50 wineries pouring their latest Merlot releases alongside white, sparkling and rosé wines.
Tickets are now on sale at WallaWallaWine.com/Celebrate.
Schedule at a Glance
Thursday, July 13, 2023
Merlot Kick-Off Event at Gesa Power House Theatre | 2:30-4:00 p.m.
Vintage Pour at L’Ecole N° 41 | 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Friday, July 14, 2023
Wine Panel Presentation and Tasting at Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center | 1:00-3:00 p.m.
Collaborative Winemaker Dinner Series throughout the Walla Walla Valley | 6:00-9:00 p.m.
Saturday, July 15, 2023
Merlot Grand Wine Tasting at Motor Co.| 4:30-6:30 p.m.
About Celebrate Walla Walla Valley
Formed by Walla Walla Valley Wine in 2013, Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine is the region’s signature wine event held annually in July. The event series is structured to showcase a different wine varietal each year, focusing on Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot, the region’s most widely grown and produced varietals. 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 Walla Walla Valley Wine
Walla Walla Valley Wine is a nonprofit wine industry membership organization whose primary mission is to build an internationally acclaimed Walla Walla Valley wine brand among consumers, media, and trade by executing marketing programs in collaboration with member wineries, vineyards, and partners. Walla Walla Valley Wine functions as the leading informational resource for consumers, media and trade interested in learning more about the Valley’s wine industry.
Executive Director, Walla Walla Valley Wine
firstname.lastname@example.org | (509) 526-3117 office
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