Event Review: 20something, The New Vintage

Juli Crompe

Guest Post by Juli Crompe.

Hey Wild 4 Washington Wine readers! My name is Juli Crompe, I co-blog on another wine blog with William. I live in Seattle, love wine and I'm an event planner so I've decided to take on reviewing a few specific wine events on the west side of the state throughout the year for this blog! I'm looking forward to sharing some really great events with you.

Juli Crompe (left) on the Macy's Red Carpet with
her former college roommate and good friend Ellen (right).

My first post here, is an event review of 
20something,"The New Vintage",
a wine event held at the end of November at Fremont Studios in Seattle.

It is on my 
event list!

This was the 7th 20 Something (6th Annual)  but my first time attending. It is now on my not-to-miss event list! Upon walking in, the setting is far different than most other wine events I attend throughout the year; it was fairly dark, with amazing images of vineyards, wine images and  beautiful colors projected along the entire back wall (it had to be 50 - 100 feet long! A real showstopper!). There was a DJ playing music, and even though I arrived only 20 minutes into the event, it was already full of well-dressed guests! The vibe seemed more like a nightclub than a wine event with a dance floor, loud music and a packed house. But, don't fear, for those of you over 20-Something, you are more than welcome at this event and will fit in just fine!

Don't fear, for those of you over 20-Something, 
you are more than welcome at this event 
and will fit in just fine!

One of the amazing color wall displays that illuminated the room.

My first stop was coat check. Although the line was a bit long, I didn't complain because it was free! A very nice addition to any event and often overlooked in my opinion. After we dropped our coats, I turned around and didn't know where to start! The nice thing about this event is that it was alphabetized by winery (fairly common now), so we did the most logical thing and started in the A's. Restaurants were scattered throughout the wineries, making it very easy to grab bites in between tastes. The best part of this event that I've never seen at other wine events...more than half the wineries were walking around with bottles pouring in the crowd. I think there was only one point in the evening where I had an empty glass, and it was by choice.

There was only one point in the evening where
                     I had an empty glass, and it was by choice.

A downside to this event is that it was dark and the lettering on the signs was hard to read, and there was no program. It was tough to know if there were wines (or restaurants) that I wanted to make sure I visited. (If you didn't visit the website beforehand, you had no way of knowing who was there.) This became a minor concern as I quickly decided to make the evening about trying wines I'd never had before, which surprisingly wasn't difficult.

This event had a lot of wineries that don't often attend 
other major wine events. 

This event had a lot of wineries that don't often attend other major wine events. I like to think I have a fairly good knowledge of Washington wineries, but there were quite a few I hadn't heard of; I discovered some great new wines and sampled some wonderful food!

One of the best items of the night was from Tom Douglas and Bravehorse
Tavern. A slow roasted pork with grits and a tomato jam. It was delicious!
One of my favorite restaurants, RN74 was present at  the event,
serving delicious Black Pepper Gougeres with Aged Gouda, courtesy of
Pastry Chef Kim.  Perfectly sized for popping in your mouth!

I hadn't heard of Scarborough but I'm a fan now! I was delighted to find their
2009 "Stand Alone" Cabernet Sauvignon from Horse Heaven Hills.
A bit pricey but delicious at $55 a bottle.

One winery I discovered for the first time was O S Winery.
They were pouring their 2008 Red Bordeaux Blend from Columbia Valley.
A great, afford option at only $15 a bottle!

What is a wine event without dessert? Yellow Leaf delivered their always
famous Pancakes and Bacon cupcake, which (no surprise) was gone half way
through the event. But I also tried the Pumpkin, which was delicious!

You can not drink wine without cheese, so Mt. Townsend Creamery
was on hand with cheesy snacks! They had two cheese "waterfalls"
and some delicious crackers, nuts, fruit and even a brie!

A few more wines worth mentioning:
  • Dunham Cellars 2009 Trutina Red Blend, Columbia Valley, $26
  • Diversion Copper Ridge Estate, Non Vintage Riesling, $10
  • Bunnel Family Cellar 2008 Mourvedre, Wahluke Slope, $40

Pros of the evening:
  • This event opened my eyes to some great new wines and wineries which I'd never heard of. That makes this event very unique as most wine events I go to, even the larger ones, don't have the wineries that were at this event.
  • Each winery had business cards that were associated with the wines they were pouring. If you liked a wine, you could pick one up to save for later. Each listed winery, varietal, vintage, region and price, making it easy to revisit anything you liked post-event.
  • Your ticket stub gives you access to some great discounts, offers and freebies post-event. There is a list on their website which includes a LOT of free wine tastings and deals, as well as great offers to local restaurants and businesses. This is a unique idea which I think is an added bonus for the already reasonable ticket price.
  • It was fun!!! This was a great event, with great music, fun people and an overall awesome atmosphere! I really had a great time!

My few critiques:
  • Dump buckets need to more abundant. When you are at a wine event with SO much wine, you can't possibly drink everything that is poured. (Well, you probably could...but I can't!)
  • Water needs to be more abundant. There was only one water table which I never ended up making it to the entire evening. Often this is a problem at larger wine events.
  • While the social media team did a great job promoting the exciting things at this event, I think some of the things were a bit misunderstood or unknown. There was supposedly an "Alaska Airlines Lounge", but I never found it. It was supposed to have winemaker meet-and-greets throughout the evening, and there was a reader board showing the schedule, I just never seemed to locate the room or area!
  • A downloadable map or one page list pre-event (or bigger, easier to read signs the night of). I'm really green, so I hate the idea of printing a ton of programs that go unused, but it is really tough when you walk in blindly. A map allows you to plan your evening better. But on the flip side, the lack of planning allowed me to be spontaneous and go up to wineries I ordinarily may have overlooked.

I'm already excited for 20something 2013!

While it may look like my con list outweighs my pros, the cons are relatively minor in comparison to how great this event was. I would recommend attending next year to anyone, hands down. Every year it is improving, and many of my friends have been in the past and continue to go back each year and love it! I'm already excited for 20something 2013!

Event Details:
Website: www.thenewvintage.org
Ticket Price: $50
Time: 6-10pm (I wish it went longer!)
Place: Fremont Studios
Hosts: Washington State Wine Commission and Seattle Convention and Visitors Bureau
Note: This event sells out every year so get your tickets early!

Mark your calendars...Taste Washington is back in March for two full days of wine tasting! The nation's largest single-region wine and food event of the year! March 23-24, 2013 at Century Link Field Event Center. Tickets go on sale December 5th at www.tastewashington.org

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