Winemakers from Italy and California will join their Walla Walla peers next month to explore the world-class cabernet sauvignon made here and across the globe.

The Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance’s lineup of guest winemakers for Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine — The World of Cabernet Sauvignon includes Nicolò D’Afflitto, director of winemaking for Frescobaldi in Tuscany, Italy, Elizabeth Vianna, general manager and winemaker of Chimney Rock Winery in Napa Valley, and Christopher Tynan, winemaker for Cliff Lede Vineyards in Napa Valley.

The seventh annual event takes place at various locations June 13-15.

The wine event takes a deep dive into a different wine varietal each year. From panel discussions to elaborate tastings, the weekend is a chance to compare and share what Walla Walla offers along with other renowned growing regions of the world.

Celebrate starts on a Thursday afternoon with a talk hosted by Whitman College geology professor Kevin Pogue, and Sabrina Lueck, instructor of enology at the Walla Walla Community College Institute for Enology & Viticulture. The discussion takes place at the Gesa Power House Theatre. Topics are designed to tantalize oenophiles with discussion of terroir, growing conditions and the cultural significance of cab sauv.

Thursday evening also features the renowned Vintage Pour. Hosted at Tranche, guests will have a chance to sample library wines ranging from 1999 to 2012 from over 40 Walla Walla Valley wineries.

The following afternoon will be a two-hour panel discussion and tasting where the winemaking guests from other regions will join Walla Walla Valley winemakers. The discussion will be moderated by Owen Bargreen, editor of the Washington Wine Blog and contributor to the International Wine Report.

The panel presentations and tastings are intended to demonstrate how wines vary among the world’s leading regions resulting from different growing conditions and winemaking. Attendees will have an opportunity to taste from all six panelists, which also includes Dan Wampfler, general manager and winemaker for Abeja; JJ Menozzi, owner and winemaker for Aluvé, and Josh McDaniels, president and winemaker for Doubleback Winery.

“Every year we look forward to this event. Not only do attendees get to sample these six premium Cabernet Sauvignons, but they are immersed in this assembly of global minds,” said wine alliance Chief Operating Officer Ashley Mahan in a prepared statement. “Attendees will gain access to a once-in-a-lifetime experience to learn, taste and engage with the hand-picked panel of prominent American and Italian winemakers.”

The panel and tastings start at 1 p.m. at the Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center.

Friday’s events culminate with the Cabernet Sauvignon Grand Tasting at Waterbrook Winery. This is the largest organized tasting event of the year in the Walla Walla Valley with over 50 wineries pouring their latest cabernet sauvignon releases, whites and rosés.

The weekend concludes Saturday with the Collaborative Winemaker Dinner Series. Guests can reserve a seat at a table with winemakers at 10 locations throughout the Walla Walla Valley. Food will be prepared by local and guest chefs for intimate food and wine experiences.

Tickets are now on sale at


Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at 509-526-8321, or on Twitter at

Vicki covers business and economic development, including tourism, the Port of Walla Walla and the Strictly Business column, as well as features. She has been reporting for the Union-Bulletin since late 2001.