Taste Washington turns 21 this week

By on March 17, 2018

The two-day Grand Tastings at the CenturyLink Field Event Center are the centerpiece for Taste Washington. (Photo by Richard Duval Images)

SEATTLE — Organizers for the 21st Taste Washington continue to create unique experiences for Washington wine lovers as the annual springtime festival showcases the nation’s second-largest wine region.

As it has in recent years, the event centered in Seattle continues to share the spotlight with regional chefs and ventures beyond the now two-day public tasting at CenturyLink Field Event Center. Indeed, Taste Washington remains the centerpiece of Washington Wine Month.

“Washington State Wine is committed to supporting our local wine industry through promotions like Taste Washington Wine Month,” Steve Warner, President of the Washington State Wine Commission, said in a news release. “It’s a great way for folks to discover new Washington wines and support local businesses.”

A delicious example would be the monthlong promotion by Salty’s Waterfront Seafood Grills, which will provide a $20 gift card for each bottle of Washington wine purchased at its restaurants in at Alki, Redondo Beach and Portland during the month of March.

2 days of Taste Washington grand tastings

Small bites prepared by celebrity chefs and buzz-worthy restaurants remain key ingredients to the Grand Tastings on Saturday and Sunday at the CenturyLink Field Event Center. (Photo by Suzy Pratt Photography/Courtesy of Visit Seattle)

Officials continue to tout Taste Washington as the nation’s largest single-region wine and food event as a result of its 6,400 attendees. The marquee events are the Grand Tasting matinees on Saturday and Sunday, which span 2-5 p.m. each day and gather more than 225 wineries and 65 restaurants from throughout the Pacific Northwest as chefs perform cooking demonstrations on two stages. Cost is $95 per day.

Several of the VIP-level tickets already are sold out, starting with The Connoisseur, a VIP pass ($585) that allows a winester to attend every event, The Enthusiast ($290), which starts Friday, and the early-entrance VIP passes ($165) for Saturday and Sunday as well as the combined ($210). However, there is a waiting list for sold-out events, so contact Kenee Walton at kenee@varsitycommunications.com.

“Taste Washington has something for everyone,” said Tom Norwalk, President and CEO of Visit Seattle. “Next week we celebrate the best food, Washington wines and craft ciders the region has to offer, so be sure to purchase tickets to individual events by going to www.tastewashington.org.”

There is an impressive list of lodging partners with packages tied to Taste Washington, and another indicator as to the allure of the Grand Tastings is the waiting list for volunteer positions.

Taste WA opens with Red & White Party

The Red and White Party, which began in 2014, again will be staged at Aqua by El Gaucho in downtown Seattle. (Photo courtesy of Visit Seattle)

Taste Washington kicks off Thursday with the fifth annual Red & White Party at AQUA by El Gaucho, where a wine must receive at least 91 points from a leading publication for it to be a part of executive chef Wesley Hood’s pairing menu.

Admission is $175, and the stellar lineup of 30 wineries includes àMaurice Cellars, Avennia, Baer Winery, Caprio Cellars, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Col Solare, Côte Bonneville, DeLille Cellars, Doubleback, Dunham Cellars, EFESTĒ, Fidélitas Wines, FIGGINS, Guardian Cellars, L’Ecole No 41, Lauren Ashton Cellars, Leonetti Cellar, Long Shadows Vintners, Mark Ryan Winery, Northstar Winery, Obelisco Estate Winery, Passing Time Winery, Quilceda Creek Vintners, Sleight of Hand Cellars, Sparkman Cellars, Spring Valley Vineyards, Tranche, Va Piano Vineyards, Walla Walla Vintners and Woodward Canyon Winery.

Friday morning brings Taste Washington On the Farm, which allows guests to spend the day with a chef for unique immersion experiences that give true meaning to the term locavore.

  • Fly with Kenmore Air to the Olympic Peninsula and dine at Finnriver Farm & Cidery with chef Daniel Ratigan of The Fireside Restaurant at the Resort of Port Ludlow.
  • Take the ferry to Bainbridge Island’s Heyday Farm and break bread with executive chef/proprietor Tad Mitsui and chef Zoi Antonitsas.
  • Meet at Palace Kitchen chef Kyle Peterson at the Center for Urban Horticulture for a special lunch near the University of Washington.

The New Vintage brings youthful vibe

The New Vintage returns to the Taste Washington lineup in 2018, but it will move to Fisher Pavilion at Seattle Center. (Photo by Richard Duval Images)

On Friday night, the Fisher Pavilion at Seattle Center is home to The New Vintage, a young event that was a sellout last year. This year, it features a live band for the first time — Man Made Time, a synth-pop duo from Los Angeles. Among the baker’s dozen of culinary headliners from Seattle, Portland, Denver, San Antonio and Maui is celebrity chef Brooke Williamson, a Southern California restaurateur who won Season 14 of Top Chef All-Stars on Bravo.

Among the 60 wineries pouring early on in the Rosé Lounge and afterward are Alexandria Nicole Cellars, Ambassador Wines of Washington, Amelia Wynn Winery, AniChe Cellars, Boudreaux Cellars, Brian Carter Cellars, broVo Spirits, Browne Family Vineyards, Cadaretta Winery, Caprio Cellars, Coral Wines, DAMA Wines, Damsel Cellars, Dancing Fish vineyards, DeLille Cellars, den Hoed, Desert Wind Winery, Ducleaux Cellars, Dunham Cellars, Dusted Valley, EFESTĒ, Elevation Cellars, Ellensburg Canyon Winery, Eternal Wines & Drink Washington State, Gard Vintners, Hedges Family Estate, Intrinsic Wine Co./Borne of Fire, J. Bookwalter Winery, Jones of Washington Winery, K Vintners, Karma Vineyards, L’Ecole No. 41, Long Road Winery, Love That Red Winery, LUKE Wines, MERF Wine, Mullan Road Cellars, Naches Heights Vineyard, Newsprint, Nine Hats Wines, Obelisco Estate Winery, Patterson Cellars, Pondera Winery, Reininger Winery, Result of a Crush, Revelry Vintners, Robert Ramsay Cellars, Ryan Patrick Wines, Silvara Vineyards, Sinclair Estate Vineyards, Swiftwater Cellars, Terra Blanca Winery & Estate Vineyard, Three of Cups Winery, TruthTeller Winery, Two Mountain Winery, Two Winey Bitches, Waterbrook, William Church Winery, WIT Cellars and Woodward Canyon Winery.

Expert-led seminars provide education

Decorated wine merchant Doug Charles of Compass Wines in Anacortes, Wash., will be back to moderate seminars during Taste Washington 2018. (Photo by Richard Duval Images)

As a primer for the Grand Tasting each day, there are 90-minute morning seminars led by wine merchants, sommeliers and writers at Four Seasons Hotel Seattle.

Saturday’s seminars include:

Blind Tasting Bootcamp with the Masters ($60) moderated by Chris Tanghe, master sommelier of GuildSomm, with Bob Betz, Master of Wine; Mary Ewing-Mulligan, MW, International Wine Center NYC; Rebecca Fineman, MS; and Jackson Rohrbaugh, MS, Canlis.

Through the Hourglass: An Exploration of Rare and Aged Washington Wines ($85) moderated by acclaimed wine merchant Doug Charles of Compass Wines in Anacortes, with Chris Camarda, Andrew Will Winery; Patrick Comiskey, Wine & Spirits; Nelson Daquip, Canlis; Tim Hightower, Hightower Cellars; Rick Small, Woodward Canyon Winery and Gordy Venneri, Walla Walla Vintners.

Spotlight: Celilo Vineyard ($45), moderated by Wine Enthusiast critic Sean Sullivan with Luke Bradford, COR Cellars; James Mantone, Syncline Wine Cellars; Kevin Pogue, geologist Whitman College; Madeline Puckette, Wine Folly and Andrew Trio, Tranche.

Sunday’s seminars include:

Beyond the Mystique: A Look at the Science of Washington Wine ($85) with educators Tim Donahue and Sabrina Lueck of Walla Walla Community College.

A Rhone of our Own: Single Vineyard Syrahs of Washington ($60) moderated by Greg Harrington, MS, Gramercy Cellars with Patrick Comiskey, Wine & Spirits; Mike Sauer, Red Willow Vineyard and Charles Smith, K Vintners.

Washington vs the World: Old World, New World, Our World ($45) moderated by Doug Charles with Casey McClellan, Seven Hills Winery; Jeff Lindsay-Thorsen, WT Vintners; Keith Johnson, Sleight of Hand Cellars; Damon Huard, Passing Time Winery; Anna Schafer Cohen, àMaurice Cellars and Sean Sullivan, Washington Wine Report.

At 10 a.m. on the Sabbath, there’s the inaugural Taste Washington Sunday Brunch ($75) in Pioneer Square at Quality Athletics, featuring chefs Josh Henderson and Daniel Cox with Seattle singer/songwriter Kris Orlowski. Early-access to Sunday’s grand tasting is available if you choose the Sunday Brunch + Sunday Grand Tasting VIP pass ($240).

Taste Washington is collaboration between Visit Seattle and the Washington State Wine Commission. The Taste Washington Wine Month website features a calendar of promotions, including winemaker dinners, discounts at local wineries and restaurants, special tasting events and more. There’s also a Tagboard, which automatically aggregates social media posts to pull even more specials, promotions and other social activity in one place.

About Eric Degerman

Eric Degerman is the president and CEO of Great Northwest Wine. He is a journalist with more than 30 years of daily newspaper experience and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest with Andy Perdue and served as its managing editor for 15 years. He is a frequent wine judge along the West Coast.

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