Mercer Islander promotes state wines with flair and skill
By DEE HITCH
Mercer Island Reporter Columnist
February 8, 2012 · 3:10 PM
Everyone knew a kid like this. You would visit a friend, and his sister would have all the dolls lined up with plates and small cups in front of each of them. Pretty soon she would be planning all her siblings’ birthday parties, and she would progress to all the family events.
You just knew that event planning would be her niche in life. Meet Jamie Peha.
By high school, Peha was in charge of selling tickets to the Senior Party and creating social events. One of her big high school events was a masquerade ball at the Smith Tower with a few hundred in attendance.
Peha attended Island Crest Elementary and South Mercer Junior High, and graduated from Mercer Island in 1974. Even after leaving Mercer Island, she has returned to the Island twice to live.
Her dad owned Ness Florist, one of the major flower shops in Seattle. He liked fine dining and the Peha family enjoyed many elegant dinners in such restaurants as Canlis, The Golden Lion, Rosellini’s 610 and Four-10, The Butcher. Jamie Peha loved the ambience of it. “I think that with my dad owning a flower store, there was always the feeling of celebration in the air.”
I have been in awe of Jamie Peha since I’ve known her. She was one of the movers and shakers who nurtured the growth of the Washington State Wine Commission. A long time ago, wineries in Washington state had been accessed per gallon to fund the WWC. But for a long time, all that happened was a different T-shirt and sweatshirt offering.
When an active board was hired, actual promotion of Washington wines began. Peha was on the ground floor. During her 10 years with the Washington Wine Commission, she opened more than a dozen national markets for the Washington wine industry through such events as Taste Washington, Washington Wine Month and the Washington Wine Restaurant Awards. Meanwhile, the Washington wine industry was doing its part by growing from 80 to the over 700 wineries today!
Before the Washington Wine Commission, Peha worked for many restaurants from the Pacific Northwest to Los Angeles, honing her hospitality and managing skills and perfecting her wine knowledge. After the Washington Wine Commission, she joined Tiger Oak Publications, which encompasses Seattle Magazine, Seattle Business, Seattle Bride, Northwest Home and Northwest Meetings and Events. With all this experience under her belt, she started Peha Productions which is her own marketing, public relations and events company.
Her newest venture is the all-new Seattle Wine and Food Experience in the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall on Sunday, Feb. 26, from noon to 5 p.m. Not only are Washington wines featured, but wines from Oregon, Idaho and California and around the world are available for tasting. Craft distilleries, breweries and cider companies are paired with 22 regional chefs. Taylor Shellfish’s oyster bar is matched with sparkling wines.
“What I love is the creative process of pulling together all the pieces to create an ‘experience,’” said Peha. “A show like this is a production, much like theatre in a way.”
Peha Productions will produce or consult on many more events this year: BLEND Seattle, Wine Rocks Seattle, Unwine’d, Celebrate Oregon Wines, Merlot Gone Mad, Walla Walla Wine Tour Events, Lamb Jam Pro-Am Seattle, Lamb Jam Portland and Kitsap Wine Festival. Peha also writes a monthly column for Spotlight Seattle called Reservations and Food Fixations: www.spotlightseattle.com.
Besides all this, Peha co-hosts a radio show with Theirry Rautureau from Rovers Restaurant twice a month on KKNW 1150 AM. “The show is called ‘Table Talk Radio That Tastes Good,’” said Peha. Her show can be listened to at any time at tabletalkradio.net.
Check out the Seattle Wine and Food Experience in the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall on Sunday, Feb. 26, from noon to 5 p.m.
Tickets are available at seattlewineandfoodexperience.com, and Dee says they are a bargain at $49.
Dee Hitch can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Mercer Island Reporter Columnist Dee Hitch at email@example.com.