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The first Winter Wine Rodeo

by George Balling
| December 15, 2010 8:00 PM

A little over one week ago the first Winter Wine Rodeo was held at the Kootenai County Fairgrounds, and the success laid the groundwork for this event to go on for many years. The winter installment was an off shoot of the North Idaho Wine Rodeo held prior at the August Fair, and while the summer event was a competition judging more than 230 wines, the winter event was a chance for wine consumers to both revisit some of the winners but also sample some of next year's competitors.

In all nearly 50 wines were being sampled accompanied by some great food from three of our best local restaurants, Angelo's, Bistro on Spruce and Scratch Coeur d'Alene. Standout local winemakers like Warren Schultz and Arne Michalson were there to sample their new releases and talk all things wine with the crowd. Local wine distributors whose knowledge rivals that of the producers added their expertise to the event, and a handful of local vendors provided the chance to complete some holiday shopping.

The attendance at the Wine Rodeo was beyond what any of us could have hoped for as over 300 attended and virtually all appeared to truly enjoy the mix of wine, food and fun. Based on tasting and purchases there were clear winners from the public's judging. Holiday friendly wines like the JFJ Almond Champagne, the Argentinean sparkling white New Age, and Prosecco from Italian producer Zonin were all huge hits.

In still wines another Argentine wine, the Argento Malbec, was very popular along with Castlerock Pinot Noir and the Avalon Cabernet. Local producer Reasons made by the aforementioned Arne Michalson again received a lot of attention. After winning the award for Best in Show Red last summer with his 2007 Malbec, the public was very enthusiastic about his newly released 2008 version of the same wine, and there was no drop off in demand for his 2007 Cabernet that placed second in the Cabernet category.

We have already received inquiries from additional restaurants to participate in next year's event which is great news. It will likely ease the burden on the individual chefs and restaurants who in some cases reloaded two and three times by traveling back to their kitchens to provide more food, but also help attendees spend less time waiting to be served. It will also broaden the selection for all those who attend.

Word is also out among wineries and winemakers as we have received calls from even more local producers looking to send winemaking staff to participate in the event. In short, this year's inaugural Winter Wine Rodeo was a monumental success and next year's looks to be even better.

An event of this scope does not come together without a tremendous effort by all involved so we would like to take a couple of lines of the article to thank the North Idaho Fair and the Fairgrounds staff for their help and support especially Chelsea Rosenberger, Special Events Coordinator and Chris Holloway, CEO of the Fair. Our co-sponsors who all did a great job including, Chris Meuller of Bistro on Spruce, Angelo Brunson of Angelo's Ristorante, and of course Jason Rex owner of Scratch.

Thanks also to Rick and Mary Souza and their talented staff at Design Events for creating a venue that was functional but more importantly visually stunning. Thanks must also go out to local radio station KPND for their support.

Thanks to all of our great distributors, Hayden Beverage, Odom/Southern distributors, Noble Wine and Spirits, Click Distributing East, Varietals LLC, Bottles of Grapes, Idaho Wine Merchant and Vehrs.

And finally thanks to all of the local wine enthusiasts who came out to taste and enjoy what is becoming the premier set of wine events in North Idaho and the Inland Northwest, you all are what made the night so spectacular.

We had a blast last Saturday sampling wonderful wine, paired with outstanding local food, in a beautiful room with a great crowd and we look forward to doing it again next year!

If there is a topic you would like to read about or questions on wine you can email George@thedinnerpartyshop.com or make suggestions by contacting the Healthy Community section at the Coeur d'Alene Press.

George Balling is co-owner with his wife Mary Lancaster of the dinner party a wine and table top decor shop in Coeur d'Alene by Costco. George is also the managing judge of The North Idaho Wine Rodeo. www.thedinnerpartyshop.com

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