After taking place for more than 40 years, the Tri-Cities Wine Festival announced the discontinuation of the event. In years past, the annual event has attracted thousands of attendees, including representatives form the wine industry in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and even portions of British Columbia. What would have been the 42nd festival in 2020 was canceled because of the COVID pandemic.
“Closing this chapter of the wine society’s history was a difficult decision for its board of directors,” said Tri-Cities Wine Society president Ted Davis, “but we do so with a sense of pride and feelings of accomplishment as we reflect on the growth of the Northwest wine industry over the past 40-plus years and the part the festival has played by showcasing Northwest wineries and their wines. The Tri-Cities Wine Society is looking forward to continuing to do so with other events.”
The festival was the longest, continuously judged wine festival in the Northwest. The festival started in 1979 by Coke Roth, a Tri-Cities attorney and past president, Tri-Cities Visitor and Convention Bureau and his friend, Maury Balcom, as a fundraiser for a copier for the bureau, and as a way to promote Northwest wines and the Tri-Cities as a tourist destination. After 10 years and wanting to move in a different direction, the bureau offered the Tri-Cities Wine Society the opportunity to host the event.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank all the wineries and businesses that have supported the festival, including our silent auction, over its long history,” Davis went on to say. “For several years, proceeds from the auction have been targeted for scholarships to students focusing on viticulture and enology in area schools,” Davis added.
“I also want to extend a sincere thank you to the hundreds of volunteers over the years who worked to ensure the festival’s success,” Davis added. Regarding the volunteers, he said, “As the wine industry grew, so did the festival. It became a year-round effort for a small core of volunteers to ensure its success.”
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