Local events focus on wines from Bordeaux region

PARKERSBURG – Area wine industry representatives and members of the public had the chance to learn more about the wines of Bordeaux in a pair of events held Friday at the Blennerhassett Hotel in downtown Parkersburg.

The Counseil Interprofessional duVin de Bordeaux from the Bordeaux region of France held a Trade and Media Tasting event Friday afternoon to kick off the Bordeaux campaign in West Virginia.

On Friday evening, the Blennerhassett held its fifth annual wine-tasting seminar, which this year featured eight Bordeaux wines. About 100 people learned about tasting, judging and evaluating wines, with this year’s program focusing on Bordeaux wines.

Both programs were led by Robert Cavanaugh, a former Vienna resident and a wine expert approved by the Bordeaux Wine Council.

Cavanaugh said Friday afternoon’s trade event was aimed at educating companies and people on the front lines of wine sales about the diverse wines that originate in the Bordeaux Region. Representatives from the industry were invited, including restaurant owners, servers, retailers from specialty wine shops and grocery stores with wine sections, chefs, hotel owners and managers and anyone who sells or serves wine.

The program featured 50-60 wines and educational seminars by four Bordeaux experts.

Cavanaugh said the trade event was a direct result of the success of the Taste of Parkersburg over the past several years. He has been organizing the Friday night tasting seminar for the past five years.

“I’ve been overwhelmed by how interested people were in good wines. I went to my clients and said ‘I think West Virginia has enough people that- given the opportunity- would really want to buy these wines’ because they ask such great questions and they’re such fun people,” he said.

Bordeaux wines have been available for years to buy, but Cavanaugh’s goal is to increase exposure and raise awareness of that and many other facts about the wines through the trade event and other activities. Events like Friday’s trade event are a common occurrence, but only in larger cities, Cavanaugh said.

“They’re missing 45 other states. My theory is that if you concentrate on the states that don’t get these kinds of programs, the response you get back is so much better,” he said.

David Oliver, owner of House of Wines on Ohio 60 north of Marietta, said Friday’s trade event offered a wide range of wines and educational assistance. He has attended similar programs offered by wine vendors who sell through House of Wines and he finds such events helpful in his business.

“It increases our knowledge and with more knowledge you can tell your customers about the wines a little more thoroughly. That makes everyone a better customer,” he said.

While the afternoon program focused on those who provide wine, the evening wine tasting was devoted to those who consume wine, with a variety of wine enthusiasts wishing to expand their knowledge and experience with wines.

Among those attending Friday night’s seminar were Matt and Becca Shockey, who recently moved back to Parkersburg after 10 years in Colorado. The Shockeys said they enjoyed attending events such as the wine seminar and the Taste of Parkersburg while living out West and were glad to see the same activities in Parkersburg.

“We love wine, so we wanted to check it out,” Becca Shockey said.

The weekend’s main event in downtown Parkersburg, the Taste of Parkersburg will be from 5-11 p.m. today at Bicentennial Plaza by the hotel. Food vendors will serve until 9 p.m. and wine vendors until 10 p.m.

Event organizer Carrie Nesselrode, with Downtown PKB, said presale tickets through Friday had been strong and people were looking forward to tonight’s event. Although there is a forecast for storms tonight, Nesselrode said the Taste of Parkersburg will go on, rain or shine.

“As we say, ‘Even if it rains, we will still pour,'” she said.