Oeno Files

Return of the Grape Killers

A local winemaker supergroup wrecks the halls with its annual holiday party.

By Julie H. Case December 6, 2012

Grape Killer Chris Sparkman celebrating a blue, blue Christmas in 2011.

It’s winter in Woodinville and once again some of the Eastside’s magnum wine personalities are throwing their own party. The Grape Killers' Holiday in the Hood, now in its fourth year, is back this Friday, December 7, with pours, small bites, and loud music. Formed as loose support group for a bunch of winemaker friends—Lance Baer, Darby English, Chris Gorman, Mark Ryan McNeilly, Christian Sparkman, Guardian's Jerry Riener, and Paige and Tim Stevens—the Grape Killers are mostly known for throwing this one annual party, though they've been known to gather at other random events and venues throughout the year. 

The festivities happen in the Woodinville Warehouse District and kick off at 5:30 with glassware pickup at Stevens Winery and Sparkman Cellars. While there may be mistletoe ("on our belts," says Christian Sparkman) and the occasional barrel sampling, don't go expecting sappy Christmas tunes and candy canes: this party is more wreck the halls than deck the halls. Grape Killer fans are known to have two things in common: a passion for wine and a passion for fun. Not necessarily in that order.

There are a few changes to the fete this year: VIP tickets come with a "wine sleigh," and Stevens Winery has returned to the fold after a one-year hiatus, so all the Grape Killers are together again. Sadly however, this year winemaker Chris Sparkman won’t be there dressed as Elvis.

Single tickets—which include small bites, a Riedel glass and all the pours you can survive plus small bites—are $65. A pair of VIP tickets, gives you all of that, plus a seven-pack of wine: one bottle each from Mark Ryan Winery, Darby Winery, Guardian Cellars, Baer Winery, Stevens Winery, Sparkman Cellars and Gorman Winery.

These VIP tickets run $219, so bring a date, or at least a friend you like moderately well since you’ll be splitting that $89 half-case-plus of wine. Not a bad deal considering that it’s rumored to include, among other things, Gorman Winery’s 2010 Zachary’s Ladder ($30), and Sparkman’s yet-to-be-released 2010 Wilderness red blend.

One last thing: industry chatter has it the Grape Killers might soon be assembling a super high-end blend—think one barrel of the best juice from each of the seven winemakers. Put the 2013 Grape Killers Holiday in the Hood on your calendar now as that'll be the only way to get a bottle. You know, if they do something like that. 

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