Big game is big deal at local watering holes

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What's better than watching this weekend's game on a big TV? How about taking the television home with you?

Businesses are gearing up to host Super Bowl XLVI this weekend with plans for special deals and even a raffle for a high-definition TV.

The Green Lantern, 1606 Isaacs Ave., is selling $5 raffle tickets for a chance to win a 51-inch Samsung 3D HDTV. The winner will be drawn during the game. Specials will also be offered throughout the event.

And there will be no shortage of televisions to catch the game at Red Monkey Downtown Lounge, 25 W. Alder St. The business will show the Super Bowl on 10 high-definition flat screens and a beastly 12-foot television. Stadium lounge seating can be reserved at no charge, but is limited. Happy Hour specials will be offered all day, as will $5 munchies. The business opens at 10 a.m. Red Monkey's sister operation Stone Hut Bar and Grill will be closed during the event. To reserve stadium seating, call 200-9639.

Walla Walla Vintners won the prestigious 2011 Jefferson Cup Award and boasted the only cabernet sauvignon in the country to have been recognized with the coveted honor.

The 12-year-old competition recognizes excellence in American wine. More than 600 wines from across the country were part of the competition. Of those, 22 made it through three levels of judging over two days to be picked for the award. Walla Walla Vintners' 2008 Walla Walla Valley cabernet sauvignon was the only one of its kind to win.

"This is an exciting honor for all of us at Walla Walla Vintners and real tribute to the outstanding grapes and wines coming from Washington state," said winery co-owner and winemaker Gordy Venneri, in a statement.

Though apparently not as well known as other competitions, the Jefferson Cup was founded and is overseen by Doug Frost, one of the few people in the world to achieve the titles of master sommelier and master of wine. Vinifera and nonvinifera wines are selected for the competition in an effort to reflect the diversity of American viticulture and the acceptance of native varieties and hybrids, Frost said.

In addition to Frost, judges this year included: master sommelier Wayne Belding; master sommelier Laura dePasquale; Ellen Landis of Landis Shores Resort at California's Half Moon Bay and longtime California wine competition judge; Bob Foster, writer for The California Grapevine; master sommelier and Napa Valley-based consultant and teacher Bob Bath; Robert Noecker, a Midwestern wholesaler and 30-year veteran of the wine industry; Jeff Miller, a Kansas distributor with 25 years experience, Dennis Schaefer, wine columnist for the Santa Barbara News-Press; and Joyce Angelos, a Mo. wholesaler and 25-year industry veteran.

Blue Mountain Growers Inc. has entered into a new marketing partnership with The Oppenheimer Group.

The Vancouver, B.C.,-based Oppenheimer will begin marketing the Milton-Freewater company's apples cherries, plums and Italian prunes in the coming season. Those items are offered in the historic Blue Good and Blue Ore labels.

Blue Mountain Growers produces in three regions: the Walla Walla Valley, Grande Ronde Valley and Columbia Basin.

"This well-established grower group has a very good reputation for quality and is well-situated geographically," said John Anderson, Oppenheimer chairman, president and CEO, in a prepared statement. "And their fruit mix fits our strategy very well. Together, we can serve export customers with a greater range of items, while also delivering a 'grown in Oregon' program for retail customers looking for locally produced fruit in season."

The Blue Mountain program will begin with cherries in June, followed by plums, prunes, and ultimately Braeburn, Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Jonagold and Red Delicious apples harvesting in the late summer.

"We at Blue Mountain Growers, Inc. are extremely pleased with this newly formed alliance," said General Manager Justin E. Brunson in the announcement. "The opportunity to reach new markets, both domestic and export, through the efforts of Oppenheimer will hold us in good stead, long term."

Oppenheimer also markets ENZA JAZZ, Pacific Rose and ENVY apples, as well as Orchard View Farms cherries. These make up the core of the company's fruit export program that reaches through the U.S. and across Asia.

To learn more about Blue Mountain Growers, check out its new website at bluemountaingrowers.com.

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

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