Sunday afternoon, we enjoyed BLEND at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center on the Seattle waterfront. It was a day to celebrate the art of wine blending, so it started off with two optional seminars on wine blending. One seminar worked with blending single varietal wines from Columbia while the other seminar participants worked with single varietal-single vineyard wines from Canoe Ridge and Cold Creek. I stuck my head into each seminar a couple of times, where the participants were taking their analysis and blending very seriously. Evaluating the individual wines is important aspect of blending and they were grading on aspects like color, body, aroma and finish.
Once they had scored the individual wines, participants started planning their wine blends. As they transitioned from evaluating wines to starting to blend the wines, the fun began! Armed with their notes, pipettes, beakers and flasks, blending seminar participants measured, tasted and tweaked their blends. Some tables created their blends individually while other worked together in teams.
After the seminars, the big blend tasting began. Tasting tables were set up along the spacious hallways and in two large rooms. Wine tasting tables were interspersed with food tasting tables, making it easy to play with food and wine pairing as you strolled through. You could chat with your friends in small groups as you sipped or grab a glass of award winning wine and head out to the deck. Mount Rainier and some last chance summer sunshine graced those enjoying their wine and food outside.
Over 40 wineries were pouring their wine blends at BLEND. I was only able to taste a small sample of the wines available from Washington, California and Portugal. I have chatty friends in the wine business though and here are some of their favorites from the tasting:
- Alexandria Nicole Shepards Mark 2009
- Brian Carter Cellars Tuttorosso 2006
- Camaraderie Elégance 2007
- Davenport Cellars Continuity
- DeLille Cellars Chaleur Estate Blanc 2008
- DiStefano Donna Maria 2004
- Smasne Cellars Konner Ray Red 2006
- Sparkman Cellars Ruby Leigh 2007
- Tamarack Cellars Sagemoor Vineyards Reserve
- Thurston Wolfe PGV 2009
BLEND provided the opportunity to taste exquistely prepared food from Columbia Hospitality. Executive chefs from Columbia Hospitality properties near and far, treated guests to an assortment of culinary delights. The food ranged from Lobster BLTs from the Kitsap Conference Center to Granola Crunch S’mores from Lakedale Resort. Dawn loved the Portuguese Sausage Torta from Oitavos, all the way from Portugual! My favorites included the Seared Lamb Loin with stewed cannellini beans, wax beans and shitake mushrooms with fig, onion and rosemary jam from World Trade Center-Seattle and the Beef Tataki with yuzu infused grapes, house made ponzu and Asian greens.
What’s a party without prizes? BLEND did not disappoint, ensuring that lucky winners would be continuing their party into the future! Towards the end of the event they began to raffle off two night stays at a variety of Columbia Hospitality locales. The grand prize was a 5-day stay at the Oitavos hotel in Cascais, Portugal!
Personally, I wasn’t in the best party frame of mind that day but it was almost impossible not to enjoy one’s self at BLEND. Bell Harbor provides places to lounge, chat, learn, eat and drink. The crowd was big enough to be a celebration but not so big that you had to elbow your way in to get a glass of wine. There was a really nice balance of eating, drinking and talking. People seemed to be genuinely enjoying the wine versus working on getting a buzz. Several wine makers told me how much they enjoyed pouring at this event because it was so well organized and the participants were so interested in the wines. It is not an easy feat to put together an event that delights wineries, chefs and guests but Peha Promotions pulled it off.