What began as a Wine Walk to benefit the Cannon Beach Preschool and Children’s Center several years ago has morphed into a four-day extravaganza with food and wine events galore. Under the careful management of Gary Hayes, this has become a premier event for Cannon Beach, drawing visitors from the region and all over the United States.
Hayes credits Tourism and Arts Funding with making it possible to expand marketing and promotion and provide management for all aspects of the event this year. Tourism and Arts Funding is administered by the Tourism and Arts Commission, whose deliberations and grants are approved by the Cannon Beach City Council. This is the third year that grants will be given to nonprofits to encourage events that bring tourists to town from more than 50 miles away.
“The (Cannon Beach Preschool and Children’s Center) did a great job of launching a wine event for Cannon Beach, but they didn’t have the resources or experience to manage a growing event or to turn it into a major festival that attracts visitors to Cannon Beach,” he said. “With the TAF funding and professional event management and marketing from Pelican Productions, we have created one of the community’s most popular events in a very short time.”
Savor Cannon Beach fits the town perfectly because nearly every business can participate in some way, even those that aren’t food or wine-oriented. It is a major visual arts event, with the Wine Walk drawing visitors to galleries and shops who host their own events throughout the weekend.
For instance, several events are planned by Martin Hospitality, Inc. at the Surfsand Resort and Stephanie Inn. With a stay at Stephanie Inn, visitors will receive a 10 percent discount, a gourmet chef’s breakfast buffet, afternoon wine gathering and evening nightcap service. The hotel will also host a Willamette Valley Vineyards Wine Maker’s Dinner on Thursday with chef Aaron Bedard and Willamette Valley Vineyards winemaker Don Crank III. For a complete and up-to-the-minute listing of who is doing what and where it is happening, check the website: www.savorcannonbeach.com
The schedule run-down
The festivities begin at 5 p.m. Thursday, March 7 with the Thursday Night Throwdown, where Savor Cannon Beach participants taste 12 wines (two of each varietal), vote for their favorites, select a top red and top white wine, and crown the winner of the one-on-one matchups. In keeping with our mothers’ admonition to eat something if you are drinking, small bites for the event will be provided by John Newman, award-winning chef and owner of Newmans at 988 and Fishes Sushi and Japanese Cuisine.
Friday, March 8 will see a food and wine pairing event as well as the Battle of the Blends, a tasting featuring four red and four white wine blends from the Northwest.
A special event – “What’s That Varietal?” will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, March 9. In this blind tasting, learn about the characteristics of different wine varietals. Discussion will be led by Northwest wine writer Andy Perdue, founder of Wine Press Northwest Magazine and operator of Great Northwest Wine.
The Savor Cannon Beach Wine Walk, starting 2 p.m. on Saturday, is the largest event of the four-day festival. Up to 500 participants who purchase a ticket can make the tour of Cannon Beach galleries, shops, restaurants and hotels, each hosting a different winery offering tastings. Forty Northwest wineries will be featured on this year’s Wine Walk. To give you a taste of the offerings: The Lumberyard will feature a hard cider tasting from Blue Mountain Cider, the Wayfarer Restaurant & Lounge will have Chehalem wines, and the Surfsand Restort will have Angel Vine Winery offerings.
“The event is becoming a real showcase for winemaking in the Northwest with participating wineries representing nearly all wine regions of Oregon and Washington,” Hayes said. “Some of the biggest and smallest wineries in Willamette Valley will be here, as will Southern Oregon wine regions and Washington wineries, inclusing some of Walla Walla’s best known names.”
Prior to the festival, Savor NW Wine Awards will be given, and they will be announced at the beginning of the festival. This professional judging of Northwest wines, not open to the public, is one of the largest wine award programs showcasing Northwest wines. Be sure to check out the winners and decide which ones will find their way to your table or your wine cellar.
Cannon Beach restaurants host special wine dinners and pairing menus throughout the festival and many businesses participate in a Tasting Tour featuring low-cost or free tastings of chocolate, olive oils or specialty salts. The whole four days of the festival is a foodie’s dream – every delicious item to drink or eat will be on offer.
Festival passes for all six wine tasting events, including the Saturday Wine Walk are $119, but they are limited to a total of 100. Individual tickets for just the Wine Walk are $30, up to a total of 500 participants. A limited number of tickets for official individual wine tasting events will be available at the door of each event for $35 each. For more information or to purchase advance tickets, visit www.savorcannonbeach.com
Don’t miss this fabulous event that has become such an important and enjoyable part of the calendar of Cannon Beach.