The promotional event in Tokyo was scheduled to occur March 15th through 17th. The event, sponsored by the Washington Wine Commission, was to include representation from 34 wineries, including industry leaders Chateau Ste. Michelle, Hedges, and Woodward Canyon. More than 550 tickets had been sold for the consumer event. Seminars and winemaker dinners had also been planned.
While the earthquake did not cause significant damage in Tokyo itself, power and train service in the area has been disrupted. Washington Wine Commission Public Relations Director Ryan Pennington said that these difficulties led to the decision to postpone the event.
Shannon Jones and Cole Sisson of Woodinville’s Hestia Cellars arrived in Osaka on Friday for the events. Not speaking the language, they were not immediately aware that the disaster had occurred. Sisson says, “Our plane landed in Osaka an hour after the earthquake had struck and things appeared normal. We took the train to our hotel, had dinner, laughed, and walked around. It wasn’t until the next morning when e-mails began arriving from friends and family that we realized what had happened. The overall disconnect has been surreal.”
The Tokyo tasting is now scheduled to take place on May 24th. The Washington Wine Commission has been conducting promotional events in Japan for the last several years. For the most recent fiscal year available, July 2009 through June 2010, sales of Washington wines in Japan totaled more than 36,000 cases valued at over $2.6 million.