Barrel tasting event boasts 50-plus activities

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More than 50 events are on the agenda for a fun-filled Holiday Barrel Tasting weekend.

Food, festivities and, of course, wine are on the menu and will be showcased at various events this weekend from today through Sunday.

Among the events:

DaMa Wines, 45 E. Main St.: The downtown Walla Walla tasting room will kick off the weekend with a clothing drive tonight between 5 and 7.

Gently worn donations of women's professional clothing and children's winter clothing will be accepted for distribution by the Walla Walla YWCA. Those who donate will receive a complementary glass. Subsequent glasses are $7 apiece. Snacks from Olive Marketplace & Caf?© will be served and a holiday movie will be playing.

Red Monkey Downtown Lounge, 25 W. Alder St.: Geoff Tate, the frontman for rock band Queensr?øche and a collaborating winemaker for his Insania blends at Three Rivers Winery, will host a release party for his fine wines. Tate will sign bottles in a meet-and-greet event that starts at 10 p.m. Friday. Guests can get two signed bottles and a custom Queensr?øche opener for $75. The event will also feature a performance from five-piece indie rock band The Voodoos. The cover charge is $5.

Revelry Vintners, 720 C St.: James Beard House nominated Executive Chef Jason McClure of Seattle's Sazerac will lead a pig roast at the Walla Walla winery Saturday. The event runs 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wine, food and entertainment will be provided for $10 per person.

Saviah Cellars, 1979 JB George Road: The winery will offer its 2010 Une Valley and 2010 estate syrah paired with chocolate treats and special cheeses, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday through Sunday. A Holiday Open House will take place 4:30-7:30 p.m. Friday with an evening of wine, food and music. The event is free to wine club members but $10 for their guests. Photography of Gary Hamburg will be on display, as will barrel creations by Mike and Kay Funk and Casa Girasol hand-crafted pottery.

To check out more of what wineries are offering this weekend, visit wallawallawinenews.com for individual postings.

The Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance said more than 70 wineries across the Valley will be decked out to welcome guests. This weekend's event is designed for wineries to introduce their new wines still in the barrel. New vintages and existing ones can be tasted in each individualized setting. Wineries also offer spreads of snacks and larger events, such as a Battle of the Soups.

•••

President Barack Obama just might be raising a glass of -- if not to -- Walla Walla's College Cellars wines come Dec. 7 at a banquet during the national meeting of the Council on Competitiveness in Washington, D.C.

Some 400 people are to attend the dinner, to which Obama has been invited and is expected to speak, said Myles Anderson, interim director of Walla Walla Community College's Center for Enology and Viticulture.

"He's person who has embraced American wines for the White House," Anderson said of Obama.

WWCC is the first college in the nation to have a teaching vineyard and winery, not to mention its own retail outlet for the wines: College Cellars. The center also has a culinary arts component.

Anderson said 35 cases of College Cellars -- mostly its 2008 Malbec but also 2006 and 2007 semillons and a 2004 Chardonnay -- have already been sent to banquet organizers. "It marks the first time a teaching winery will be involved in such a great event" in the nation's capital, he said.

WWCC President Steve VanAusdle is a member of the Council on Competitiveness, comprised of top private and public sector leaders who convene to address long-term cempetitiveness challenges and to generate innovative solutions.

To Anderson, that means "an awful lot of influential entrepreneurs" at the banquet will be getting a taste or several of a Walla Walla wine.

Strictly Business is a local business column. Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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