ADVERTISING: Advertorial — GEORGE BALLING: Our winter and spring line up takes shape

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When we first opened our shop, I don’t think Mary or I ever envisioned how popular our monthly winemaker dinners and in-shop tastings would become! Of course, a big part of their popularity is being partnered with a wonderful restaurant in Fleur de Sel. Husband and wife ownership team, Laurent and Patricia Zirotti, have assembled a great crew of front-of-the-house and back-of-the-house employees who deliver seamless, professional service and great food at every turn. These monthly events have become so popular that even with expanding how many guests we take for each dinner, most times they sell out within 48 hours of the invite going out and they are some of the toughest tickets to get.

Our in-shop tastings have also grown as our shop has grown. The additional space from our expansion, along with the brightness from the corner windows and the seated wine tasting area, have all caused folks to linger a bit more and feel comfortable bringing in friends. The common theme for all our events is the great sense of community that has developed among our wine club members, and all of our customers, really. People make new friends and meet up with them at both dinners and tastings.

Our line-up for the remainder of the winter and the spring is again robust, and we are forever thankful for winemakers that travel from far away to join us for our events. Here is what is happening in the next several months.

Next Saturday, on the 8th of February, we’ll hold one of our wine club release parties. This is one of our only events where we limit attendance to our wine club members and their guests. They are fun events where you get to meet your fellow wine club members and try this quarter’s selections, and this time we will have a caricature artist on hand to sketch caricatures of our club members. Want to attend this fun event? There is still time — just give us a call at the shop and we will fill you in on our wine club and get you signed up if you feel it is right for you. For existing wine club members: if they bring a guest who signs up they’ll receive an extra bottle of the club selection of their choice on us!

Later in February we are pleased to be welcoming Tim and Kelly Hightower, co-owners and co-winemakers at Hightower Cellars in Yakima. The winemaker dinner will be held at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at Fleur de Sel in Post Falls. It’s a bit unusual for us to have a winemaker dinner on a Wednesday, but with restaurant week starting on Thursday the 20th we had to move the dinner to a day earlier. The shop tasting with the Hightowers will be from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 21. The wines made by the Hightowers are some of the most elegantly balanced wines made in Washington and should not be missed.

In March we have the special treat of hosting Garzon Winery from Uruguay. Mele Soza will be making the trip to North Idaho from the winery to take us through the Garzon portfolio. Garzon is the most critically acclaimed winery from Uruguay, consistently racking up 90-plus scores from the wine press. We have included one of the Garzon wines in our wine club previously; this will be an extraordinary chance to taste through five of their great bottlings. The winemaker dinner will be held on Thursday, March 12, and the shop tasting will be held on Friday March 13. While all of our events fill quickly these days, this one may set a new record.

We just booked Fisher Vineyards from Napa for a pair of events. Juelle Fisher first approached us last summer to get the wines established here in North Idaho. After some discussion and work with one of our favorite distributors we were able to get the wines here. Fisher Vineyards is one of the old guard names from the Napa Valley and the wines, while spendy, are nothing short of spectacular. The dinner with Juelle will be held on Thursday, April 9 and the shop tasting will be on Friday, April 10.

We are still working on our May and June guests, so check back with the shop to see what we nail down. After a successful first year though, Laurent and Patricia have again committed to holding the “Barbecue on the Patio” in July. The first event last year was a huge hit, working with all summer wines and Laurent serving up fabulous barbecue dishes from a huge grill set up on the patio at Fleur de Sel. Seating for this event is limited to just 30, so watch for details; reservations will go fast.

Come by the shop to learn more about our wine club, to sign up for our email invite list, and to learn more about all we have planned in the coming months.

• • •

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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