SEATTLE – Taste Washington organizers anticipate surpassing 5,000 visitors in 2016 for the first time in its 19-year history when the two-day Grand Tasting concludes Sunday, April 3, at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field Event Center.
Last spring, Taste Washington attracted a record 4,991 wine lovers for the weekend tasting that featured 234 wineries, 800 wines, 78 restaurants and 60 culinary exhibitors.
Visit Seattle produces the festival for the Washington State Wine Commission, and the four-day celebration of Washington wine caps Washington Wine Month. This year, total attendance reached 6,307 as organizers continue to bill it as the nation’s largest single-region wine and food event.
In 2016, the weekend of activities kicks off Thursday, March 31, with the Red & White Party, a stylish evening on the waterfront at the AQUA by El Gaucho with executive chef Wesley Hood. It spotlights pours of vintage library wine, barrel samples and reserve wines from Avennia, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Col Solare, Côte Bonneville, DeLille Cellars, Dunham Cellars, Guardian Cellars, L’Ecole No. 41, Long Shadows Vintners, Northstar, Passing Time Winery, Sparkman Cellars and Waters Winery.
Friday, April 1, marks the second annual Taste Washington on the Farm, which offers a choice of three lunchtime trips guided by chefs and Washington winemakers to Mountain Lodge Farm in Eatonville, Urban Farming in downtown Seattle and Going Underground in Woodinville.
That night, Motif Seattle plays host to The New Vintage, an evening of music, dancing and appetizers tailored to millennials. Participating wineries include Balboa, Canvasback, Cave B, Coral, COR, DeLille, Diversion, Dunham, Goose Ridge, Jones, Koi Pond, Locus, Love That Red, Nine Hats, Owen Roe, Reininger, Terra Blanca, Three Rivers and Tildio.
Acclaimed wine merchant Charles headlines seminars
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 Washington vs. the World ($89) moderated by Doug Charles of Compass Wines; King Cab! ($64%) moderated by Sean Sullivan of Wine Enthusiast; and Tasting Washington ($48) moderated by Bruce Schoenfeld of Saveur. The Sunday panels include Through the Grapevine ($48) with Sullivan, Riesling on the Rise ($48) moderated by master sommelier Chris Tanghe of Vinum Wine Importing and Distributing; and A Sense of Place ($48) with Schoenfeld.
There shouldn’t be a major issue with parking because the Seattle Mariners don’t open their season until Monday, April 4 in Arlington, Texas. However, the Seattle Sounders have not released their schedule for 2016.
Tickets to each event are on sale, and there is a holiday discount of $10 for general admission entry into the Sunday Grand Tasting. The promo code of 16TASTE is good through Dec. 31. The 2016 Taste Washington welcoming sponsor is Alaska Airlines and premier sponsors are Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card, Muckleshoot Casino and Total Wine & More.
The Washington State Wine Commission, created in 1987 by the state Legislature, represents each licensed winery and wine grape grower in the state and provides marketing efforts within the U.S. and beyond. The state agency is funded primarily through assessments on grape and wine sales.