Wine makers from across the region and beyond served up samples of their best to the hundreds of people who came to the Elma Winter Wine Festival on Saturday at the Grays Harbor County Fair and Events Center.
The event spanned nine hours and had a steady stream of visitors sampling local wines, eating local seafood and listening to music that lasted throughout the day. A source at the Elma Chamber of Commerce, which spearheaded the event, said volunteers usually have time to work some of the kinks out before the crowds hit, but this year there were people waiting when the doors opened and traffic was strong and steady until the event closed at 9 p.m. Debi Adolphsen, Chamber Marketing and Promotions Director, said, “We had 1,901 people at the 2017 Elma Winter Wine Festival,” when ticket sales were totaled Wednesday.
One of the first tables visitors came across was manned by Karen and Ryan Rowe, owners of Aberdeen’s GH Wine Sellers. Their tasting room at 206 South Broadway just announced winter hours – 3-9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday – and offers custom wine tastings, some gourmet food and of course a vast selection of wines.
Among those showcasing their wines was Dana Roberts from Westport Winery. His parents, Blain and Kim Roberts, along with Dana’s sister Carrie, have run the Westport Winery “going into our ninth year now.” The original location, at 1 South Arbor Road off SR105 midway between Westport and Aberdeen, is open for tastings daily, and the Garden Resort features the winery’s Farm to Fork Restaurant, open daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. They have more than 30 varieties of wine and two cider varieties, and the winery was awarded the Elma Wine Festival’s People’s Choice Award for best winery Saturday. Westport Winery is in the process of opening a second tasting room, this one in Cannon Beach, Ore.
The I-5 corridor from south Thurston County through Clark County houses more than 20 wineries, several of which were on hand Saturday. Scatter Creek Winery in Tenino was among them. Owner Terril Keary was pouring samples of the 27 varieties he and his wife Andrea have been producing for more than 10 years. They have a huge 3,900 square foot tasting room and are currently going through the permit process to include a brew facility, where Keary says they’ll start off “with at least 12” beer varieties once the permit process is complete and remodeling and production can begin.
Several of the wineries on hand will participate in the Chehalis Valley Wine Tour, slated for May 6-7. Along with Scatter Creek, Agate Creek Cellars in Chehalis, Bateaux Cellars in Toledo, Heymann Whinery (yes, that is how it is spelled) in Centralia, Mt. St. Helens Cellars in Castle Rock, and Wells’ Winery in Onalaska will be on the route. For more details look up Chehalis Valley Wine Tour on Facebook.
It wasn’t all wine at the festival. The Jerky Gal was there with her huge variety of smoked meats. Debbie Buzzard of Hoquiam took over the business from her dad – who made jerky and other smoked meats for 20 years in Colorado – in 2015. She was at the show with her daughter, Lacey. They make jerky, salami, seasoned nuts, and even dog treats. The Jerky Gal specializes in elk, deer and buffalo products. They also make seasoning rubs for backyard barbecuers, the most popular of which is called Blistering Butt Rub. Buzzard makes the rounds to similar shows in the region and you can find her products on line at thejerkygal.com.
Food choices included fried oysters, oyster shooters and even oyster “hot dogs” from the Willipa Harbor Chamber of Commerce; fish and ships, mussels with garlic butter and shrimp cocktails from Union City Masonic Lodge #27; salami, cheese, grapes and crackers from Montesano Bulldogs Fastpitch; chicken street tacos from Summit Pacific Medical Foundation; and about every kind of local seafood from oyster stew to fried razor clams from Grays Harbor County Fair Concessions.
Entertainment was nonstop through most of the day. Local singer and songwriter Ryan Baker performed folk, classic rock and blues tunes on the pavilion stage inside the main vendor hall. Attached to that hall is the Arena Stage, where Caryn Jamieson, who remembers going to the fair with relatives in her younger days, sang and played acoustic guitar from 1-3 p.m. Lewis County-based classic rock band Backfire hit the stage from 4-6 p.m. playing a variety of high-energy tunes. Then, at 7:30 p.m., Heart by Heart performed the songs of Heart. They’re not your typical tribute band: two of the members were original members of Heart and were among the lineup recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with Ann and Nancy Wilson.