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Monday, Sep. 13, 2010

Wine buyers planning trip to Washington wine country

More than 40 high-profile wine buyers will be coming to Washington in the midst of wine grape harvest.

The Washington Wine Commission will play host to its third annual "Road Trip Washington Wine" event Sept. 26-30, during which time influential wine buyers will visit no fewer than 52 wineries and vineyards between Seattle and Walla Walla.

The visitors include the global wine buyer for Costco, four Master Sommeliers, the national wine buyer for Vino Volo (a chain of airport wine bars), the sommelier for Tampa, Fla.'s famed Bern's Steak House (home to the world's largest wine list) and two sommeliers for restaurateur Michael Mina, who plans to open a Seattle restaurant next year.

Butch Milbrandt, who co-owns Milbrandt Vineyards winery in Prosser and a number of vineyards near Mattawa and George, has participated in the Road Trip every year.

"For those of us who have wines in national distribution, this is very important," he said. "We appreciate the wine commission doing this."

Milbrandt said he sold 200 cases of Syrah last year to one of the Road Trip participants. He added that he and his sales reps are able to follow up with buyers throughout the year when they visit certain national markets, and this undoubtedly helps them with sales.

Collectively, the 40 wine buyers represent $750 million in annual purchasing power, according to the Washington Wine Commission.

The group will arrive in Walla Walla on Sept. 27, then come to the Tri-Cities the next day, visiting wineries and vineyards on Red Mountain and in Pasco, Richland and Kennewick.