November 23, 2008 in City

Wine festival offers bouquet for samplers

No sign of economic slowdown among those making circuit
By The Spokesman-Review
 
Jesse Tinsley photo

Bottles of a wine cryptically dubbed “Impostor” chill while visitors drop in for tastes at Caterina Winery on Saturday.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

Also today

Another annual Spokane tradition – the Holiday Wine Fest – continues today, sponsored by 14 area wineries.

That’s right.

There are now 14 wineries in the Spokane area.

The festival – designed to promote local wines in a partylike atmosphere – started Friday and continued Saturday.

The free tasting events continue today from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the locations shown on the accompanying map.

The giddiness and excitement at the wineries on Saturday appeared to rival that of other iconic events – Bloomsday, Hoopfest, First Night.

“It’s a great event,” said winemaker and part-time attorney Michael White, co-owner of Barrister, located downtown at 1213 W. Railroad Ave.

Particularly popular at Barrister are its Rough Justice, a red blend, and its standby Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, White said.

If the sour economy is dampening other business, its wrath doesn’t appear to be touching those depending on the region’s grapes.

“We probably had more people today than we’ve had any other time,” White said. His business has participated in the event since 2003.

That opinion appeared common.

“I’m not noticing any difference in traffic levels,” said Henning Knipprath, owner of Knipprath Cellars in the former Parkwater schoolhouse at Fancher Road and Commerce Avenue.

“People still appear to be setting both time and budget aside to enjoy wine events like these,” the winemaker said as dozens of tasters crowded around two serving bars in his winery.

Knipprath sells his product at the winery and through wine and specialty stores in Washington and Idaho.

He has exported his wine to Taiwan and is on the verge of signing export deals to sell in China and Germany, he said.

His grapes come from the Columbia Valley, near Othello and Mattawa.

“We go down every October and get the grapes, sometimes even help pick them,” Knipprath said. “We do everything here, from grape to bottle.”

His winery’s favorites are its Moonstruck Merlot and its rich Cabernet Franc. He also bottles chocolate and vanilla ports, sweet dessert wines that are particularly popular.

It wasn’t only the wineries that were doing brisk business as part of Holiday Wine Fest.

Limousines zipping around town made the rounds for those who wanted to sip and clink glasses and leave the driving to someone else.

Leroy Fautch, of Otis Orchards, and 13 family members and friends hired Ambassador Chauffeur Transportation and its stretch Ford Excursion limo for visits to Latah Creek, Arbor Crest and Knipprath before heading to Lone Canary.

As they loaded up, the mood inside the limo was festive. It was the fourth year, Fautch said, that his clan has rented the limo for the wine fest.

But not everyone in the limo was drinking wine.

A young man sitting near the front was sipping a bottle of Kokanee, his favorite Canadian beer, and another guy was drinking Crown Royal on the rocks. “Whatever,” they said in unison.

Then it was time to roll. They cranked up Jimmy Buffett’s “Margaritaville,” and the limo was off.

Bill Morlin can be reached at (509) 459-5444 or billm@spokesman.com.

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