ADVERTISING: Advertorial — GEORGE BALLING: The wine event of the year

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For the last six years, we have looked forward to the first Saturday in February. Six years ago is when we were first asked to work with Hospice of North Idaho on their annual “Wine Taste,” the premier wine event of each year here in North Idaho. We were thrilled when we were invited to coordinate the wine effort then, and we are just as excited to be a part of the tasting again this year. This is a year of several fabulous changes and “firsts” to the Hospice Wine Taste, all of which will make for a great night of food, wine and raising money for this most special of causes.

The Wine Taste is the largest single fundraising event each year for Hospice of North Idaho (HONI). In my five years on the board of directors, I have learned much of the extraordinary work the organization does in the most challenging and trying of circumstances. Every employee and volunteer supports the HONI mission: providing support and care for those who are seriously ill and those touched by loss. I have seen first hand how they do it with grace and patience, helping families going through a great loss.

That is what makes this night so extraordinary and such a worthy cause and a great way to enjoy all the wine industry has to offer here in our local community. For the first time this year, the Wine Taste event will be held at The Coeur d’Alene Resort. The Hagadone corporation has been wonderful in donating time and effort to establish its properties as the venue going forward for the Wine Taste. The Coeur d’Alene Resort is a temporary stop, and in the coming years, we will hold the event at the Hagadone Event Center.

Another “first” for the wine taste this year is the addition of the “Reserve Room.” As we, along with our great distributor partners, have worked to build not only the selection of wines at the wine taste, we have also endeavored to bring some higher-end selections to the event as well. We have found that as the selection has grown, sometimes the higher end wines that are offered for tasting get lost in the mass of wines to choose from. This was the genesis of the Reserve Room idea. The Reserve Room will be a separate area of the venue from the main tasting room, where we will feature only those wines that retail for over $50. Since we coordinate the wine selections, I can tell you, you are in for a treat if you decide to participate in the tastings there. A $25 “chip” that can also be used for the many games offered at the wine taste will get you in to the Reserve Room.

Every year a fabulous wine trip is offered via raffle. The raffle sells a limited number of tickets, improving your chances to win these world-class journeys. This year you have the chance to visit the birthplace of wine, with a cruise of the Greek Islands. If you are the lucky winner you get to spend a week cruising the azure blue waters of the Aegean Sea, enjoying wine in the part of the world where it all began.

The live auction this year will also offer a shot at a week-long wine trip to the iconic Napa Valley. We will be coordinating the tastings for you during this week with our friends in “wine country,” allowing you access to some of the most exclusive wineries in Northern California.

But let’s not forget about the wine. The Hospice of North Idaho Wine Taste is the one fundraising event of the year where you have the opportunity to taste over 100 wines from wineries that span the appellations of the globe, with choices from nearly every wine-producing country. It is also the chance to purchase your favorites, all while supporting HONI. When you check-in for the evening you will receive an order form that lists all the wines you can taste that night. When you fill out the order form and pay for your purchases that evening, the proceeds from the bottle you purchase will be donated to Hospice by the dinner party.

The Wine Taste starts at 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1, and is at The Coeur d’Alene Resort. Your tickets for the event, raffle tickets for the Greek Island cruise, and chips for accessing the Reserve Room can all be purchased at www.hospiceofnorthidaho.org/wine-taste/. We hope to see you there!

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George Balling is co-owner with his wife, Mary Lancaster, of the dinner party, a wine and gift shop in Coeur d’Alene by Costco. The dinner party has won the award for best wine shop in North Idaho twice, including for 2018. George is also published in several other publications around the country. After working in wineries in California and judging many wine competitions, he moved to Coeur d’Alene with Mary more than 10 years ago to open the shop. You can also follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/#!/dinnerpartyshop.

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