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Fly fishing catches on at Waterbrook Winery in Walla Walla
WALLA WALLA, Wash. – Precept Wine continues to expand its presence on store shelves with consumer-friendly pricing, but it’s also increasing a local presence at several of its wineries with unusual family events such as Waterbrook Winery‘s upcoming Fly Fishing Fair.
On Sunday, Sawtooth Winery in Nampa, Idaho, played host to its 24th annual Mother’s Day Wine Tasting. It’s grown into the largest attended wine event in Idaho with more than 1,300 guests and 18 Snake River Valley wineries pouring.
This Saturday — May 18 — Waterbrook, one of the oldest wineries in the Walla Walla Valley, will hold its fifth annual Fly Fishing Fair around the large pond between the tasting room and the winery. The free, family-friendly event was the brainchild of winemaker John Freeman and Precept marketing executive Alexandra Evans.
“John’s a huge outdoorsman, and they got together with the local outdoors community, and it’s been perfect,” Michael Ervin, Waterbrook’s tasting room manager, told Great Northwest Wine. “The fishermen who come out and help are incredible. They are great, and they all are donating their time.”
As is often the case with outdoor events, weather is critical. Organizers have their fingers crossed for comfortable and calm conditions Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. When sunny, as many as 125 people have attended Waterbrook’s Fly Fishing Fair.
“The weather plays a huge part in it,” Ervin said. “Last year, it was dreary, so there was not as big of turnout. We had around 30 people, which was a decent turnout for how crappy the weather was.”
The Walla2 Fly Fishers Club does most of the heavy lifting, Ervin said. Members will offer fly-tying instruction, casting lessons and organize a low-key competition. There is no cost to participate, and it’s open to all ages.
Those who don’t grab a rod can still taste John Spain’s dutch oven cuisine. The local campfire chef will provide pointers and free samples, and each of the four courses he’s creating will incorporate Waterbrook wine.
“It’s a chance for him to show off his ability,” Ervin said. “He does all his own setup, and he doesn’t ask us for much other than some plates. He goes nuts and makes some incredible, incredible food.”
Waterbrook Winery to stock pond with 200 rainbow trout
Those not interested in the cookout can purchase tacos from local caterer Maria Carmona. Ervin and his team also will be selling samples of Waterbrook wines in the tasting room, which is open to families. However, there should be more action than ever on the water because the pond will be stocked with 200 rainbow trout, he said.
“It will be the first year the pond has been stocked, so we hope it will be a lot more fun for kids,” Ervin said. “We’ve been told there will be a few trophy fish in there, but most of them will average about 9 inches.”
As is tradition with fly fishing, anglers will observe the practice of catch and release, he said. And this year will be the first time they’ve staged it during May, Ervin said. June 1 was out of the question.
“That’s Opening Day for trout season,” Ervin said. “If we had held it that Saturday, no one would be showing up.”
Those who are inspired at Saturday’s fly fishing fair will be able to visit and plan an excursion with Troutwater Guide Service, outfitters based in Cle Elum and Ellensburg.
“We’re striving to bring in quite a few events this year – different things to keep our wine club happy but also to get the local community involved,” Ervin said.
This year marks Freeman’s 10th anniversary at Waterbrook. He took over in 2005 as head winemaker for Eric Rindal, who founded the winery in 1984.