Join Us at El Gaucho Portland to Celebrate Quality, Tradition, Friendship and Toast to the Future Generation of Washington Wine
“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” ― William Arthur Ward
In the long history and tradition of making wine, Washington state may be a neophyte, especially considering the centuries of wine-making in regions like France and Italy. Newcomer or not, Washington state has become an established world-class wine producing region, thanks to dedicated individuals committed to educating the next generation of winemakers.
Chris Upchurch, nationally renowned co-founder and executive winemaker at DeLille Cellars, is one of those educators: He has taught many apprentice winemakers, and has helped launch careers for notable Washington state winemakers, including: Chris Peterson of Avennia, Lisa Baer of Baer Winery, Louis Skinner of Betz Winery, Jason Gorski of DeLille Cellars, and Kit Singh of Lauren Ashton Cellars.
El Gaucho is proud to host a spectacular evening celebrating Chris’ and DeLille’s heritage, while toasting to the future, with a special DeLille Cellars Legacy Winemakers dinner at El Gaucho Portland on Wednesday, June 10th. For the first time ever, these six talented winemakers will join together to produce an exceptional 5-course dinner, prepared by Executive Chef Steve Cain, and will pair each course with wines from the five wineries.
“For me, this dinner represents a great opportunity to not only represent the quality of Washington wine, but more importantly to also honor the legacy of Chris,” says Jason Gorski, winemaker at DeLille Cellars. “His impact on the industry will be felt for another generation, and hopefully beyond. I hope that those who come after me feel the importance of Chris Upchurch‘s impact on Washington wine. The dinner will be a real opportunity to celebrate our success as an industry.”
The catalyst for creating this special event is the non-profit organization, Auction of Washington Wines, whose mission is to promote Washington wine, while raising money to provide financial support for Uncompensated Care at Seattle Children’s Hospital. This organization, which also generously invests in viticulture and enology research and education in Washington State, has raised over $30 million since their inception in 1988.
DeLille has been named the 2015 Vintner of the Year by the Washington State wine industry and will be recognized at the upcoming Auction of Washington Wines, because of leadership, and the impact they have made on the Washington wine. “Each year the Auction of Washington Wines recognizes a vintner who has shown leadership in our industry, not only through their commitment to produce quality wines that represent our region, but also through their endeavor to educate others about our region,” says Sherri Swingle, Director of the Auction of Washington Wines.
Leading wine critic, Robert Parker, has named DeLille Cellars the “Lafite Rothschild of Washington State.” They are the only winery in the world to be listed two years in a row in the top 100 wines of the world by Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator magazines.
“My focus in creating the menu was to add complementary flavors to accentuate the wines our guests will be enjoying,” says Chef Cain. “For myself, it’s all about the process of tasting the wine and pairing it with food associated with the region, then using the excellent local products from our area to execute the dishes,” he explains.
THE WINEMAKERS WEIGH IN
Each of the winemakers is looking forward to the dinner, not only to celebrate the success as an industry, but also to honor Chris’ legacy.
Chris Peterson, Avennia
“Chris always wanted to do the best for the wine, and was against compromising quality for any reason. He was also about “less is more” in the cellar. ‘Don’t do things to the wines that you don’t need to,’ he would say. It was pretty hands-off winemaking. If anything, I’ve tried to take that a step further with Avennia, but I gained confidence in the theory there. His mentorship was very casual. We were both busy with our jobs, so much of our time spent together was standing in the cellar, tasting and talking about the wines, and how to think about tasting and blending them. DeLille was also good enough to send me on road trips to wine growing regions of France for a few years, and I learned a lot from that as well. This dinner will be interesting to see how the wineries have taken what they’ve learned at DeLille, and expressed it in their own distinctive fashions.”
Lisa Baer, Baer Winery
“We truly appreciate the sincere encouragement that Chris has given our winery. I will always remember the release of our first wine back in 2003 and the biggest bouquet of flowers I have ever seen that arrived from DeLille and what that sentiment meant to us. Woodinville is such a collegial wine community, and Chris has generously fostered the growth of this group of wineries to the benefit of us all. My brother Lance – who founded Baer Winery and passed away in 2007 – is who worked with Chris at DeLille. The winery is now operated by myself and my father Les, along with a consulting winemaker, Erica Orr.”
Louis Skinner, Betz Winery
“Chris has long been a mentor to me, even before I came to work at DeLille. Chris and I share a hunger for knowledge, particularly when it comes to how the best wines in the world are made. For the 3 ½ years I spent at DeLille, Chris was always generous with me, motivational, and knew I was moving up in my career path. We are kindred spirits, as we both have a background in wine retail sales and have weeded through the vast world of wine, and concentrate only on the very best. The search for the greatest bottles of wine is top priority in our lives, and this carries over into our winemaking philosophies.”
Jason Gorski, DeLille Cellars
“Even though DeLille is the fourth brand that I have made wine for, I will always consider Chris my first and most important winemaking mentor. He has taught me an enormous amount. By Chris’ own admission, he had no right believing that DeLille would ever be this successful, or influence so many great winemakers and brands. However, he always dares to be extraordinarily ambitious – he teaches that if we are going to do something, we are going to do it right in every way, and endeavor to be world-class. This spirit is completely contagious and every person that I have met that either made wine for DeLille or currently makes wine for DeLille seems to share this quality. I will consider myself a professional success if I ever have the extreme pleasure of finding myself in Chris’ position; I truly hope that after decades of crafting world-class wine for DeLille, I have the opportunity to look out over a room filled with talented winemakers that I have worked with and call friends, and know that the next group of winemakers are poised to continue the tradition of DeLille and Washington wine.”
Kit Singh, Lauren Ashton Cellars
“Chris most influenced me in blending. I was said to him, ‘Hey, you must have a big group of people that help you decide on your blends.’ He said, ‘No. When you blend by committee you make the most boring wine. I blend everything for myself. I feel that way I get the best wines.’ It taught me that you then find an audience for your wine – people that like your style. I respect how Chris has shaped Washington Wine and certain styles in Washington wine. He’s had an influence on many other wineries that way. I am looking forward to sharing the 2012 vintage with the Portland community. It’s always fun to get together with fellow winemakers – they’re all great winemakers so it pushes me to work harder. The standards are high and to be around them helps me maintain a high standard myself.”
C.S. Lewis once said, “Education is only the most fully conscious of the channels whereby each generation influences the next.”
Join us as we celebrate quality, tradition, success, friendship, legacy, and toast to the future generation of Washington wine. Wednesday, June 10, 2015 at El Gaucho Portland. Call 503-227-8794 for reservations.