"I think this is a very well-oiled machine. I thought the amount of tasting was just right… The intimacy of the trip was amazing, especially when we broke into groups with specific wineries. To be able to be 4-5 people with a grower or winemaker was so great. The size of the group is a big reason this trip is so valuable. I had the ability to meet some people I will continue to interact with for a long time. The selection of people was appreciated as well. It was a group that was really smart and dialed in...to wine and the pursuit of knowledge. The time of year that this trip takes place really is key. The fact that these winemakers and growers are taking time out of their crazy schedule this time of year was not lost on us. Thanks to them and thank you so much for all the work and for including me on this amazing trip."
"Overall, a fantastic and very well put together program. I found the organization to be incredibly professional (everything seemed easy!). Two things made the trip even more enjoyable: the time of year, and the number of people. We as participants all realized how hard it is to invest this much time in Road Trip during harvest season, but it made a difference to the level of education that was provided. Getting our hands dirty certainly helps us retain memories. And the size of the group made everything much more personal. That is also very memorable. Lastly, there is one thing that truly made this program so great, and it's the fact that everyone at the Commission not only put so much time and effort into everything (believe me, we noticed), but also that you are all just nice people. It was nice just to be around you and it made getting up early, and the long driving hours, that much more enjoyable… Overall, an amazing experience. Washington State is awesome! p.s. Thanks for the Fonté coffee!"
"I had a really good time and learned quite a bit. I have a completely new appreciation for the wines and the vintage quality that I had not achieved from my smaller sample sizes. Thank you all for making this happen!"
"The best part of this trip was that it did take place during harvest which gave everyone a better insight to production. The winemakers were very generous with their time and I'd like to give them all a big Thanks!... Thank you for giving me this opportunity and I look forward in helping you promote Washington wines."
"Overall, this was an outstanding trip. I have yet to experience anything that could beat it. The little details, such as the luggage service and espresso bar, really put you all above and beyond… This was such an amazing experience. Thank you so much for the invitation and the opportunity."
"Overall I thought the experience was quite good. It was very professional and well organized. The quality of the invitees was good and that helps the experience both in terms of comparing tasting notes but also business experiences. I actually liked the larger tastings as that gave me quick exposure to many wines and producers… Overall a great big THANKS as this was very good and you have a great product to promote."
"Great experience, Thanks!!!!"
"The trip was excellent, interesting, very informative. I would add that from my perspective it was the smoothest, best organized trip of this type that I have been on, my complements to the Commission on putting it together and pulling it off."
"The Washington Wine Organization was very professional and organized. Much thought and planning was put into this event. The employees were very gracious and very patient. It seems that everyone is enjoying what they are doing . . . The education at each winery / vineyard was beneficial. Overall, I was very impressed with WA Wine Organization, WA wines, and the humility and sincerity of the Washington folks (folks in Georgia means people) in the industry. Thank you for the privilege."
"… This trip reenergized my love of Washington wines and will help me do a better job selling WA wines. Never forget your own backyard! Unlimited bottled water, refreshments and beers which were kept on ice in the bus scored big time. … Loved all the wineries / vineyards activities and interacting with the wineries / vineyards owners and staff. Wineries and vineyards showed how passionate they are about what they are doing and went above and beyond to make our experience a memorable one. There is no easy way to tell how wines will taste in the future and I would like to thank wineries for their generosity to open their cellars to older vintages. I think this made all the difference to make this my best trip ever. I absolutely loved this tour. Activities were well chosen by the RTWW team. Thank you RTWW team for all your hard work to make this trip so successful. You are pros."
"Thank you so much for an incredible opportunity. I really enjoyed myself and I learned a great amount. Cheers!"
"Thanks to your "team" for providing a first class experience. I could comfortably speak for everyone when I say I was bowled over by your hospitality, attention to detail and pull together resolve in providing the best experience possible--all "i's" were dotted and all "t's" were crossed . . . a first class operation . . . Thank you for all of your kindness."
"Many thanks to the whole RTWW team for a job well done! I look forward to visiting again sometime soon, and spreading the word about WA wines."
"I am still amazed how well everyone was at all the logistical components of this trip. The staff is so helpful and friendly and I honestly would have a hard time imagining it much different. The focused winery exercises are incredible and intimate. I am so thankful that I was able to be a part of this amazing experience!"
"Excellent and educational trip all around. Top notch! You guys are all wonderful and passionate about WA wines and it shows and comes through!"
"Thanks to all the RTWW staff members for their hard work. It's tough to deal with so many egos gathered in one small place, but you've created a relaxed environment that is educational, informative, creative, and fun. Details like having luggage and coffee/espresso taken care of are specific points that many of us Road-Trippers addressed. We were very impressed by this, and greatly appreciate the hard work they put in. It was enough to taste so many great wines and meet so many interesting people. But it was the little things that made this trip even better. No stone was left unturned, and I was utterly impressed… Thanks for everything!!!"
"I really learned a lot form this trip and am very grateful for the opportunity. Thank you all."
"Great experience, highly recommended to key industry people. Thanks for the great staff you have. Wonderful, caring folks!"
"Excellent mix of attendees. I enjoyed the personal itinerary and the opportunity to meet so many wine professionals from around the country. Some of the most valuable time was spent chatting about wine in the shuttle buses or the dining venues.”"
"Great trip over all, the binders you guys put together are awesome, so useful to find which wines are in what states, and if they are not in the state, you gave contact info to help set them up with a distributor. Keep making Syrah; seriously…"
"Great trip, great people, great places, great job. Overall a wonderful memorable experience!"
"I'd like to thank everyone involved with RTWW. It was absolutely amazing and super geeky! I learned so much more than on other "educational" trips. The wines rocked and so did the people involved in making them. I've come back to MA with honest enthusiasm and respect for that part of the wine growing world. I met a few people that I will stay in contact with over the years. Please let me know if the Urban Grape can do anything additional to help grow the Washington State Wine "Brand". Thanks again and I look forward to many more visits over my career."
"Thank you! I will recommend this experience to any restaurateur or retailer as a comprehensive exposure to the culture of Washington Wine!"
"This trip blew away my expectations of wash wines and wine trips in general. Extremely well done. Planned perfect. Super nice folk…"
"I have to say, what a great job by all at the commission. Talk about over-prepared! This program should be (and probably already is!) a model for other wine regions. THANK YOU!"
"The planning and execution were incredible. Extremely professional the entire time. I don't participate on events taking me away from the business for such a long period of time; but this was certainly worth it. I will be carrying 12 WA wines because of the trip background that I will use to sell the wines. I wish I could tell you how to make it any better…"
"Snipes was unbelievable. The vineyard tour construction and facilitation that they pulled off was groundbreaking in my developing passion and understanding of what Washington is all about. It was a wine moment I will remember forever. Thank you so very much to everyone who made this happen."
"Big thanks to all involved - what an amazing experience! I can only imagine the time and effort required to put it all together. Every participating member should feel very proud of the job they did - you rocked my wine world! I'll be raving about and recommending this trip to any and all colleagues that haven't been."
"The team who made this possible are the most organized, on-time and professional group I've worked with in current years. They made a lot happen in my short time there and made this trip a real pleasure! Very impressive in many ways. This was by far the best wine educational trip I've ever been on. Staying busy and involved every day made things very interesting. The exercises presented varied sometimes as much as the personalities, generating a new found excitement. This was not the typical winery/vineyard tour and it's about time! I'm energized and certainly excited about highlighting what's new within the AVA's I visited and which varieties Washington state is hanging their hat on these days. There are absolute gems to be had for those willing to see what has, is and will be in WA. OUTSTANDING!!!"
"This was one of the best and most organized wine trips that I have attended! I look forward to recommending some qualified people from Colorado to attend in the future… Thanks again for a fantastic trip!"
"…your crew was awesome & anyone would be lucky to attend the WA road trip you put together! Kudos! I learned a lot more about the Washington State growing areas & your wines have terrific acid! I go through a ton of California wines daily & the potential "ageability" of Washington Wines is what I remember most about tasting through wines on that trip!"
"Amazing trip, I've learn so much about Washington in such a short time! It will definitely help me promote more Washington wine on my list. Lots of story to tell. I had so much fun, surrounded by a group of well-educated wine geeks not only increased my knowledge in wine but in life as well. The trip was so well organize, Thank you so much!!! I really look forward going back to Washington and do a vintage!"
"Thank you so much for inviting me on the 2010 Road Trip. It was an amazing learning experience, and the wineries, vineyards and group of attendees was first class!"
"The road trip was an incredible experience. It gave me access to so many wines, winemakers, vineyards and most of all, people passionate about Washington Wine. Everything from the tastings and seminars to getting our hands dirty in the wineries and vineyards gave me an extremely well rounded experience and view of Washington's wine industry. Thank you to everyone at the Washington Wine Commission and everyone else involved."
"It was an amazing time and I've been talking to everyone about the activities and how much I learned in the process. I cannot express enough how smoothly the entire trip went. Moving from place to place was a breeze and there was never a point where I felt bogged down in travel - it was broken up perfectly. Great job!"
"Wow - I'm not sure how else to say it. I cannot imagine how a trip could be more educational, or more fun than the WWC Road Trip - the way the trip was organized was fantastic - between winery, vineyard and group activities, the balance was perfect. Everything was over the top without being too much. You have clearly taken the best ideas from others' trips and put together a package that can only really have one result - it will really make you want to talk non-stop about Washington wines. Bravo!!!"
"I keep telling people this was one of the best trips I have ever been on. I learned so much and met so many great people. It was the little things that made it so great and I know how hard you guys all must have worked to keep things running smoothly. Thanks so much for everything."
"It was a WELL EXECUTED trip! Very organized with positive energy! I COULD NOT ASK FOR MORE!"
"Awesome.......I've been running away from cab, merlot and blends from the new world for the last few years, and totally fell in love with them all over again while there......my wife and pinot noir will be very jealous. I must go now, I'm very delicate and think I need a hug or bottle of Owen roe 73 vineyard cab....you cats rock, great gig…"
"I thought the trip was extremely well organized and it had a great balance between learning and fun time. I also thought some of the focus exercises were extremely beneficial and offered a different perspective for many of the visits and a well thought out approach to understanding WA wines and the philosophies of the winemakers. Overall a great trip! I liked that the tastings remained open and casual. I never felt like any of the producers were trying to force sales on me. No pressure."
"I had several magic "light bulb moments" on the trip. I've been on many tours and the usual dog and pony show but I felt like I really understood what was going on and a lot better understanding about how wine is made and the process. I also have tremendous respect for Wash merlot Syrah cab and the Chardonnay really knocked my socks off. Thank you for the great week I will always remember it."
"(I) just wanted to thank you for including Pike and Western Wine Shop in Road Trip Washington Wine. Catherine had a great time. You should hear her talk to customers about Washington wine after the trip; she has a whole new level of understanding."
"I just wanted to say ‘thank you’ for all the hospitality last week. Wow! What an effort by everyone. I’ll never think of Washington State the same again. Incredible."
"Hi everyone! I just wanted to write to send you all a huge thank you. The road trip was truly awesome! It was well thought out, well planned, and well executed. If any of you are ever in NY, I hope you'll contact me. Thanks again. You're all rockstars!"
"After a week of reflection and time allowing things to sink in, I couldn't help but put into words my thoughts about Washington Road Trip 2008… the first of many experiences sure to touch numerous other wine lovers along the way. Hopefully I speak for the other 2008 Roadies, when I say that these five days were uniquely some of the most fun and genuinely informative wine experiences I have ever encountered.
Like many others on the trip, we have had the blessings in our business to be able to travel to some of the world's most beautiful places and meet some of the wine industry's most storied people. We have had the opportunity to taste great wines in amazing settings with the very people we have often only read about or heard in stories along the way.
That being said, the discussions I have had with many of those who participated, is that Washington Road Trip 08 was one of the most unique experiences that we have had in our lengthy wine lives. I gave this some thought and came to these conclusions:
First, you invited an amazingly diverse group of wine professionals. Not people selected for a political purpose or agenda, but rather a group of very unique wine lovers with numerous backgrounds, markets, and ideas. And as we soon discovered, we were all there for one reason … to answer the question: "What do you think of Washington wine?"
Secondly, you asked of each your individual winery owners and winemakers, what likely no wine region in the world has ever been asked, at least collectively…. "Will you trust us and stop what you are doing and share your time, wines, and knowledge to a bunch of wine trade people and, oh yeah… listen to what they have to say as well? Will you collectively put yourselves out there and, while you're sharing your hard earned dreams and passions, be willing to hear the good, bad, and ugly from those who will sell your passions (and wine) every day?
Finally, you accomplished what I think is "quietly" one of the finest feats in the wine world in quite some time. In an extremely competitive world, and in a time when there are incredible demands for attention, you brought some of the finest wine people together on all levels and asked them to trust that sharing time, ideas, and a glass (or two) of wine will ultimately result in achieving all our goals.
It is clear that an amazing amount of careful preparation and time went into this project. Because of this, success is not the question, but rather on what level. This is only the beginning of great things.
Thanks for including me in the fun."
"Having just returned to Boston, and the afterglow of the Road Trip Washington Wine still lingering, I wanted to thank you for your hospitality, enthusiasm, passion, sincerity and camaraderie on the trip. It won't be hard to portray your state as a top-notch wine region and now I have a few stories to back it up. I can't wait to return to Washington and expand my newfound passion for the state's wines. Thanks again. An amazing time with amazing wines and amazing people."
"First of all, thank you very much for great hospitality. Your great team was fantastic. You could not organize this event better than you did. I learned many new things and had a wonderful experience with Washington wines. I know many of those wines will be going in our wine list."
"Michelle DeHayes came back from Washington utterly energized, and positively giddy with appreciation for the efficiency with which you and your team had organized the tour this week. This coming from a woman who was a very successful general manager, with no puny administrative skill set herself. Thank you from my heart for providing such a special experience for someone important to me, and for all the others who were lucky enough to be invited. What a smart investment in the short and long-term perception of Washington wines – it will yield very tangible results in the movement of product and its appearance on the stages of on-premise and retail lists."
"Thank you for the opportunity to understand my own amazing wine state. It was extremely helpful in my promotion of Washington wine at the Purple Café's. I have traveled to Europe and California, and probably knew more about their wine and vineyards. Meeting the growers and winemakers is a great tool for training and selling of Washington wine. The trip was very well organized, and great care was taken at every step. Thank you again for an incredible experience."
"Thank you! I really could sum it up with those words. but since I am Sommelier it can never be that brief. Thank you for providing a one of a kind experience. Thank you for gathering a group of tremendous professionals to share it with. Thank you for letting us meet and engage with the great growers, winemakers, and proponents of the Washington Wine Industry. Thank you and all the staff for coordinating the least stressful wine trip I have ever been on.
If the quality of the wines wasn't enough to garner my support of Washington (trust me when I say they are fantastic), then the hospitality displayed certainly was. Thanks again to the hardworking staff, growers, and winemakers who made this incredible event possible."
"Thank you so much for this amazing experience. You truly made me feel so welcome and appreciated. I have a whole new way of thinking about Washington wines!"
"The exposure to the wines, people, vineyards and places truly cement the progress this region has made and where it is going. Being on the East Coast, I didn’t understand the capacity for great wines…"
"My favorite part was meeting everybody…and the private time with the winemakers - during harvest, no less! OMG! Nobody does this!! Yay!!!!"
"Id like to thank you and the entire team for putting together a completely satisfying journey through Washington. The synergy amongst all levels was truly amazing…the only hard part would be to duplicate it. Being a veteran…of the industry and a road warrior to various wine sectors of the world, I can unabashedly proclaim the Washington trip to be one of the most complete sojourns I have taken, both educationally and socially. The coordination and timing of events was remarkable…. We worked hard, but then when it was time to relax…there was the river cruise, the taco truck (which I’d like to hijack to Boston), and the Suncadia Resort tasting. The buses were comfortable, the team leaders engaging, and the scenery outstanding…The winemakers/growers/owners were genuinely interested in passing along their knowledge, and I particularly enjoyed my time with Rick Small and the DuBrul Vineyard owners, Hugh and Cathy Shiel). We got to see new and old generations, small and big wineries, varied approaches to grape growing, and…some FANTASTIC cuisine! Plus, we had a little fun in Seattle the first and last nights…. All in all, I wouldn’t change a thing."
"I am so impressed and honored to be on this trip. You could feel the passion and welcome from the wineries and growers. Please let me know how I can be of assistance to ensure future Road Trip Washington Wine (success) as well as help spread the word/love of Washington wines in BC/Canada."
"What I love is the academic aspect of the trip. So many wine regions give the spiel – you guys are trying to teach, and you have a fine curriculum put together. Plus, everyone is cool."
"This was an excellent experience that I am so glad I had the opportunity in which to participate. I would recommend this trip to anyone."
September 27 through October 1, the Washington Wine Commission hosted 49 wine buyers and wine directors in an in-the-vineyard program loosely modeled after Oregon's successful Oregon Pinot Camp.
The group began in Seattle, with an evening reception at the Space Needle, and a tasting from Seattle area-based wineries.
Ted Baseler addresses the participants.
Sunday morning all participants were flown to Walla Walla, where they were divided into small groups, seeing different wineries and vineyards.
From there they traveled to Tri-Cities and Red Mountain, and then to the Yakima Valley before a comparative Riesling Tasting at the lovely Suncadia resort in Cle Elum, on the way back to Seattle.
In Seattle the group was again divided for winery exercises looking at yeasts, malo-lactic fermentation, oak and filtration, including some exercises that looked at barely fermenting lots. That last afternoon featured a round-the-world blind tasting of cabernet-based wines.
"The camaraderie here is impressive", said Ann Marie Delaney, wine director of New York City-based Rosie O'Grady's and Harbour Lights restaurants. "I was impressed with Christopher Baron of Cayuse and the Hedges wines really were an example of letting the land speak for itself."
She found the trip different from what she expected, "I thought Washington was green and wet, not the desert the wine regions really are!"
Steve Wells from the BR Restaurant Group in New York City thought that being in the vineyards puts a face on wine labels. He made a lot of new discoveries, but said, "I may not have room on my list right now, but I will be filling in, with the bits in my back pocket now."
William Moss from Circo/Le Cirque in Las Vegas also has Washington wines on his wine list, but claimed, "Seeing the soils and seeing the people really makes a difference in understanding the wines."
Participants were given a very well-organized thick spiral notebook, with their travel routes, all winery information, maps, and each other's contact info. They also made Road Trip song CDs for all.
The Washington Wine Commission staff seemed happily satisfied with the event. Communications Director Gary Werner said, "There has been such overwhelming positive response to this event from both producers and participants that we will absolutely be doing this program again."