GEORGE BALLING: With most sincere thanks

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Our shop, the dinner party, has been open now for nearly 10 years, actually next month on Dec. 17 is the big anniversary. Since Mary and I moved to the area, for her it was moving home, we have been so incredibly impressed and touched by the outpouring of support, and the welcoming nature of our community. We have made many new friends through the shop, and similarly the lion’s share of our customers have made new friends through our shop and developed a sense of community with those they have met here.

Through our winemaker dinners, our shop tastings and our wine club it has been rewarding beyond words to see all the relationships develop between our customers and those new friendships we have discovered.

It is the time of year when most of us reflect on all the bounty and benefits we have in our lives. This time of year when we approach Thanksgiving is a uniquely American time to give thanks and to appreciate all that we have. We are no different in that regard. That is what led me to write a column that does not talk about wine, vineyards, or the industry, opting instead to just say thank you.

To all of our friends, wine club members and customers in North Idaho, Eastern Washington and beyond we appreciate you more than we can say. The support has been overwhelming and so rewarding to Mary and I we simply cannot thank you enough! We are truly fortunate to have such a great job and fun industry to work in, and it is because of all of you.

It has been five years since we held our first winemaker dinner with Fleur de Sel restaurant in Post Falls. Laurent, Patricia and all the staff at FDS have always made us and our guests feel so welcome in their restaurant. They have been the best partners we could have hoped for with our monthly events. Their professionalism, attention to every detail and wonderful food and service are without compare. At all of these events they make our lives easier, and have helped us build our business in many ways. Thanks don’t seem to be enough, we are fortunate to have them in our community and appreciate all they do.

Every one of the distributors and vendors we work with in our shop make our business possible. We don’t know what we would do without them and a sincere thank you to all of you.

What made this column jump to the fore in my mind and so timely was our fundraiser we held at Fleur de Sel on Sunday to benefit the victims of the fires in Napa and Sonoma counties. It was a huge success raising $4,000 that we will be sending to North Bay Fire Relief a charity started by the firefighters in the area that is donating 100 percent of the money raised to the victims of these devastating blazes. The outpouring of support was humbling and such a testament to the caliber of everyone in our community here in North Idaho. We thank you and we are certain that all who will benefit from your contributions feel the same.

I was struck by a comment from one of our customers, during the benefit he said, “We spend so much time complaining about California, and here we are raising money to send down there, but this is about people’s lives.” Indeed it is! The comment and the sentiment conveyed by our friends and neighbors here in North Idaho was on full and glorious display last Sunday as so many contributed to strangers far away. While remarkable it is not really surprising to us, we know the caliber of people in this community we have felt it every day for 10 years. We are profoundly grateful.

If there is a topic you would like to read about or if you have questions on wine, you can email George@thedinnerpartyshop.com, or make suggestions by contacting the Healthy Community section at the Coeur d’Alene Press.

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George Balling is co-owner (with his wife Mary Lancaster) of the dinner party, a wine and table top décor shop located by Costco in Coeur d’Alene. George worked as a judge in many wine competitions, and his articles are published around the country. You can learn more about the dinner party at www.thedinnerpartyshop.com. Be sure and check out our weekly blog at www.thedinnerpartyshop.com/home/blog-2. You can get all of these articles as well as other great wine tips by friending us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/#!/dinnerpartyshop.

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