By: George Balling & Laura Olson
Our first column 14 years ago was a collaboration with our doctor Geoff Emry. We had decided to put together a column about the health benefits of red wine. That was the beginning of a 14-year run of weekly columns written for wine consumers here in North Idaho. I hesitate to do the math… Mary’s and my focus has always been to bring a community together around the shop and we are fortunate that we did, we have met many friends along the way and many of you have forged lasting friendships with other customers while in the shop and attending events.
The focus of this column has always been you. For all wine consumers we have attempted to bring all that is wonderful about the big world of wine to you, and if we can be so bold, we feel we have. What has made this column and me crafting it relevant is that we worked in the wine industry and more importantly we worked in the wine industry here. Unless wine industry happenings in far flung places, come home to Coeur d’Alene they matter less.
It has been so rewarding for us to host so many of you in the shop, and it has been a bigger joy to write for you each week. It has made us smile how often you have come in and shared with us how much you love the column, and our little shop. I guess that sentence is giving the whole subject of this column away. Mary and I are moving on and Laura Olson and her husband Joe Petersen are buying the shop and will be running it from here on out.
Finding Laura and Joe and them finding us and The Dinner Party are strokes of good fortune. Mary and I feel they are the ideal fit. Their enthusiasm and passion for wine and all we do here at the shop will be clear to you when you come in. They have embraced what we do and understand that what we do is more than just sell wine, they “get” the sense of community that is so important.
Laura will also be taking over the writing of this weekly column, and we trust you will enjoy her insights on the wine industry. Mary and I would like to offer one last word of thanks to all of you, for how supportive you have been of us, and our small shop. It has been an honor.
A few words from Laura:
Firstly, I wanted to express how thrilled Joe and I are to carry on the tradition of this column the beloved wine shop started by our new friends and mentors George and Mary. Their vision and generosity have been instrumental in nurturing an incredible wine community and culture of hospitality in Coeur d'Alene. From the shop's hand-selected wines and unique gifts to their warm welcoming of customers and friends, George and Mary have enriched this lake town with their passion and gracious spirits. Thank you for paving the way!
I grew up spending summers at Hayden Lake since the early 90’s and graduated from Coeur d'Alene High School. I met my husband, and shop co-owner, Joe in Seattle where we spent seven years owning and operating several popular bars and restaurants in the city's hottest neighborhoods. Though we loved the energy of the blossoming bar and restaurant world, we decided it was time for a lifestyle change after having two kids. Three years ago, we moved our family back to the Inland Northwest to be closer to family and share with them what we’ve loved so much about this region.
With a passion for travel, food and wine, my goal is to take readers and customers on a journey of discovery. Joe and I have visited numerous wine regions across the globe, from the stunning coastal vineyards of Croatia to the charming Prosecco region of Italy and beyond. Though we still have much to learn, these experiences allow us to share intriguing stories while guiding tastings that transport your palate. My aim is to continue transforming and expanding the wine education in the community through this column. Stay tuned as I delve deeper into unique grape varietals, winemaking techniques, and the culture behind wine regions worldwide. I want to spotlight not just famous areas like Bordeaux and Rioja, but also introduce emerging regions that are off the beaten path. My goal is to showcase diversity and spark curiosity about different styles of wine and nurture Coeur d’Alene’s burgeoning wine culture. The future looks bright for connecting our community to the wider world of wine, and my family and I are thrilled to nourish Coeur d'Alene's thriving wine scene and call this beautiful place home once again.