The 2006 AWW Winemaker Dinner at Columbia Winery was a raging success!
One of the many events held for the Auction of Washington Wines, raising funds for Children's Hospital ($1.9 million total this year!), this second annual fete was met with gasps of surprise that a working wine cellar could be transformed beyond recognition! Starting with the theme of 'Cabaret', I turned the cellar into a theatre...
A red carpet led guests thru a red-curtained entrance to a 'Lobby' area, graced with a custom theatre-style poster, painted by yours truly. While not an exact replica of our chanteuse for the evening, the caricature captured her long brown hair, red dress, and saucy attitude. (Janet, you were divine!) If you look closely, you'll see that the shape of her head & neck is that of a wineglass, and the shape of her legs is that of a bordeaux-shape wine bottle! Columbia Exec Holly Leuning won the poster in a bidding war...
Another red-curtained portal opened onto the 'Lounge', with a gleaming black baby grand piano centered in the intimate space. Our chanteuse crooned tunes from the 30's & 40's, and the wine was poured proliferously! Glowing candles were visible behind a sheer black fabric wall across the back of the Lounge - the only hint of the next 'act' in the dramatic evening. The mingling crowd of fifty was seen peeking thru folds of fabric!
An announcement that the dinner hour had arrived by Columbia winemaker Erik Hoins coincided with a sweeping open of the black curtain wall, and the table was revealed in all of it's sparkling glory. Silver champagne stands held glass vases with red wine and pillar candles, silver champagne buckets and smaller silver bowls held red roses. Votives sparkled the length of the table, and were reflected in tall mirrors behind the tables as well. Shimmering crystals danced, wine glasses reflected the gleam, and the main event began as the guests became the entertainment in our 'Theatre'. The pianist continued to play throughout dinner.
The meal, prepared by chef Michael Hillyer of Daniels' Broiler (Bellevue) was perfection, as usual, and the wines by Columbia, Covey Run, Pepperbridge, and Buty ('beauty') Wineries were perfectly paired with each delectable dish. All of the winemakers were in attendance. The night was a smooth, perfect unfolding of events as planned...except for one snafu. Just as the dessert was being served, the fire alarms sounded, necessitating a complete evacuation of the facility. (Including the wedding party of 150 upstairs....) Many guests departed the cellar with wine glasses in hand!!! Half an hour later, the fire department ruled the call an alarm malfunction (most likely set off by the flash of a photographers' camera up at the wedding event) and allowed everyone to return to the cellar. Dessert was served, more wine was poured, and guests enjoyed a few more hours of laughter and conversation, with a few even playing the piano after the official entertainment ended! (Thank you, Neil and Amy!)
All in all, it turned out as wonderfully as I expected it would...with a few last-minute revisions along the way, as usual!
A few of the photos I have used here are from Team Photogenic, the official photographers for the AWW events. Check them out here for more!