SPOKANE, Wash. — The first Eastern Washington wine and food pairing event of its kind with more than 300 people, 25 Washington wineries and 13 restaurants is set for 6 to 10 p.m., Saturday, June 22, in the Fox Theater, 1005 W. Sprague Ave.

Savor the Columbia – A Festival of Wine, Food and Fun will feature and celebrate the nationally acclaimed Washington wine industry by pairing select Washington wines with delicacies from local restaurants. The event debuts as a benefit for the Fix the Fox Theater campaign and for Washington State University programs in Viticulture and Enology and Hotel and Restaurant Administration.

This event is modeled after the successful Taste of Washington held in Seattle and organized by the Washington Wine Commission. Savor the Columbia was conceived when several members of the Spokane community attended a wine event and saw the opportunity to create a similar celebration in the Lilac City. Organizers set out to feature the quality of Washington wines.

“This is important for the wine industry because it showcases the premium wine being produced throughout the state,” said Jim van Loben Sels, General Manager of Arbor Crest Wine Cellars. As part of the planning committee for the event, van Loben Sels demonstrates how much the wine industry is united in promoting Washington state.

A silent auction will add to the festivities of the evening with proceeds benefiting WSU programs in Viticulture and Enology and Hotel and Restaurant Administration. “The wine industry has taken measures to provide seed funding for the Washington State University Viticulture and Enology degree program, which will provide skilled labor for our growing wine industry,” said van Loben Sels, emphasizing the importance of the collaboration with WSU.

“WSU Spokane is pleased to support the new event – Savor the Columbia,” said William H. Gray, Campus Executive Officer and Dean of WSU Spokane. “While university sponsorship of an event of this type may seem unusual, it is a way to celebrate the leadership of the university in the development of the wine industry in Washington and in anticipation of extending the Hotel and Restaurant Administration program to Spokane.”

Local wineries, restaurants and the travel industry have donated items for the auction, including a 5.0 liter hand-painted and etched bottle of wine from Chateau Ste Michelle worth $500.

“The splendid new and traditional Washington wines and Spokane’s best restaurants can find no better setting than the Fox Theater,” said John Hancock Executive Director of the Spokane Symphony.

“The classic decorative distinction of the Fox architecture keeps alive Spokane’s best history, and the growing wine industry success may be the next best new idea,” Hancock said. “Each dollar moves us along toward the renovation.” The funds raised by this event will be added to the donations of friends and supporters of the Fox Theater that number in the thousands, added Hancock.

Tickets are $75 each or $130 per pair and can be purchased by calling the Spokane Regional Chamber of Commerce at (509) 624-1393 or by visiting its Web site at www.spokanechamber.org then go to current events. Ticket proceeds will benefit Fix the Fox.

NOTE: A preview of the event is set from 5 to 6 p.m. for media and sponsors. Contact Kaarin Appel at (509) 358-7528 if you plan to attend or at (509) 981-9134, cell number.