SEATTLE – About 4,000 fans of Washington wine and the restaurants that support the state’s award-winning wine industry will gather at CenturyLink Event Center today and Sunday in celebration of the 17th annual Taste Washington.
This weekend, however, attendees of the nation’s largest single-region wine and food event will be asked to make a donation to the Red Cross to help victims of the March 22 mudslide in the Snohomish County town of Oso.
“Each year, our community comes together at this time for a great event. But this year, there is a need and opportunity to join together and do all we can to support those affected by this tragedy,” said Steve Warner, executive director of the Washington State Wine Commission.
On Saturday, Gov. Jay Inslee asked for a moment of silence at 10:37 a.m. — a week since the mudslide swept across the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River, destroyed the Steelhead neighborhood and closed Highway 530. Later in the day, state officials updated the death count to 18 with 30 people still reported as missing.
The wine commission and Visit Seattle, which partner to produce Taste Washington, are facilitating American Red Cross of Snohomish County cash collection stations throughout the CenturyLink Event Center. The groups have pledged 100 percent of the donations to the mudslide disaster victims.
“As we celebrate our state’s unique food and wine offerings, our hearts are burdened and troubled by the tragedy in Oso,” said VisitSeattle CEO Tom Norwalk. “We know our generous and compassionate partners and attendees will do everything they can to assist.”
Taste WA to feature 230 wineries, 70 restaurants
This year, Taste Washington’s public tasting runs 1-5 p.m. today and Sunday as about 230 wineries and 70 restaurants gather. The American Red Cross said cash contributions from Taste Washington will remain in the state to help provide care and guidance to families affected by the deadly mudslide.
Donations may also be made to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund by texting REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10, as well as through www.redcross.org.
Each year, the American Red Cross responds to about 70,000 natural and man-made disasters in the U.S., ranging from fires to hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, hazardous materials spills, transportation accidents and explosions. These disaster relief funds are immediately available in times of disaster, such as the Oso mudslide.
The Washington State Wine Commission represents every licensed winery and each wine grape grower in the state. It provides a marketing platform to raise awareness and increase demand. It is funded via assessments on grape and wine sales. The commission is a state government agency, established by the legislature in 1987, and its board of directors is filled by appointment.
VisitSeattle, a private, nonprofit marketing organization, has served as Seattle/King County’s official destination marketing organization for more than 50 years.