New Winefest Dinner Celebrates Women and Wine

Wine at the female-focused Assemblé dinner will be chosen by local sommelier Blair Zachariasen from Wall to Wall Wine and Spirits. Photo: Maharry Photography.

Writer: Karla Walsh

Ask Beyoncé and she’ll tell you: Girls run the world. But they don’t run enough of the wine industry, according to Natasha Sayles with Winefest Des Moines. That’s why they’re launching a new event called “Assemblé: A Female-Focused Wine Dinner” on March 31 at Mainframe Studios.

Billed as a celebration of female winemakers, chefs and sommeliers, the event is co-hosted by Ballet Des Moines. So in addition to enjoying a meal with wine pairings, guests will see a preview of “She,” which the ballet company will perform April 27-30 at the Des Moines Civic Center’s Stoner Theater. The show uses dance to explore female leadership and the successes, compromises and pressures it often entails.

After the amuse-bouche, Assemblé guests will be treated to a three-course dinner planned and prepared by an all-female team. It starts with a first course by Brandy Shayan (The Grateful Chef), continues with an entrée by Katie Van Dyke (Iowa Culinary Institute) and bread by Chelsea Smith (Bread by Chelsa B), and finishes with dessert by Kelsey Williamson (Tangerine Food Co.).

Each course comes with a red, white, rosé or bubbly selected by local sommelier Blair Zachariasen from Wall to Wall Wine & Spirits. She is a certified sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers, holds a level 3 certification from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust and is working to earn her WSET diploma. (Translation: The wines she’ll uncork will be stunning.) She didn’t spill any specifics about her choices but did note they’re all from women-owned wineries or produced by women winemakers or grape growers – all to show, she said, “that ladies have a place in the vineyard and cellar.”

As she put it, “I’m looking forward to sharing the stories of women in the business who have inspired me to break into the boys’ club.” Cheers to that!

Tickets are available on the Winefest website.

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