Hospice du Rhône coming to Walla Walla

By |2023-07-10T14:20:31-07:00July 10th, 2023|

Hospice du Rhône (HdR), a Rhône variety organization based in San Luis Obispo, California, will hold its next flagship event in Walla Walla, Washington. The still-in-development event will take place April 25-27, 2024.

“Thirty years ago, we envisioned taking HdR on the road,” founding director John Alban says in a press release. “With the exuberance, talent, and commitment to Rhône varieties emerging in Walla Walla, the invitation to celebrate the wines we love with kindred spirits feels like a fantastic destination.”

Details are currently sparse beyond the dates, but Hospice du Rhône Walla Walla will be a multi-venue event. HdR typically features educational seminars, grand tastings, and food and wine experiences. Previous years have hosted between 1,600 and 2,000 attendees and had 120 participating wineries.

For over 20 years, this biennial event has taken place in Paso Robles. Walla Walla Valley winemakers have long travelled there to tell the area’s story, with a number of them involved in keynote seminars. Now this premier wine event will come to them.

“This is a game changer for Rhône varieties throughout Walla Walla Valley and the Northwest,” says Steve Robertson, owner of Delmas, a Rhône variety dedicated winery in Walla Walla Valley. Robertson is one of a number of people who have been working for years to bring HdR to Walla Walla. “There will be producers, trade, and guests from all over the world attending,” he says.

Hospice du Rhône celebrates 22 Rhône varieties. At least 12 of these varieties are currently planted in Washington, including Carignan, Cinsault, Clairette Blanc, Counoise, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Noir, Marsanne, Mourvèdre, Picpoul, Roussanne, Syrah, and Viognier. Many of these are offered by producers both as varietal wines and as blends.

Most notably, Syrah is Washington’s fifth most produced variety and also makes many of the state’s highest scoring wines. As I wrote recently, Mourvèdre is a sleeper variety for Washington, with limited plantings but also makes exceptional wines. Rhône-style blends also excel in the state.

Walla Walla Valley is home to approximately 120 wineries and tasting rooms according to the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance. Syrah in particular from the Rocks District of Milton-Freewater, a sub-appellation of Walla Walla Valley, has garnered international acclaim since Christophe Baron of Cayuse Vineyards first planted vines in the area in 1997. Though it doesn’t get anywhere near the press, Grenache from the stones can be just as compelling.

Ticket sales will open for Hospice du Rhône Walla Walla on December 1, 2023.

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  1. Jamie Peha July 10, 2023 at 8:02 pm - Reply

    I cannot wait for this event! Wow, very exciting.

  2. Bob Neel July 10, 2023 at 10:52 pm - Reply

    It’s nice to see it coming back to the Northwest. Doug McCrea and David Lake arranged for it to be in Seattle (for a couple of years?) back in the late nineties or early ‘naughties’ (my gray matter is failing me – perhaps someone else remembers exactly when).

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