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As the time before the holidays winds down…

Previously holiday gift suggestions have been stemware and decanters. Here I take up books and magazines.

For a number of years, in depth books about Washington wine were scarce. The main reference work was the Washington Wine Project by Ronald Irvine and Walter Clore (since out of print). This book mixes the telling of Washington’s wine history along with visits by the authors to vineyards and wineries. What makes this book compelling is not just the history and stories, but also the fact that the two authors played such a central role in Washington’s wine history. Occasionally dry, this book was the main Washington wine reference book for a number of years.

That has all changed in the last year. In late 2007, Paul Gregutt, who has been writing about Washington wine for over twenty five years for publications including the Wine Enthusiast and the Seattle Post Intelligencer, released his book “Washington Wines and Wineries: The Essential Guide.” This book takes the reader through the history of Washington wines and also categorizes wineries by using a unique point rating system that does not rate individual wines but rather the consistency of the winery over an extended period of time. In addition to older wineries, Gregutt evaluates up and comers as well. This book is engaging, extremely well written and is a must have for any Washington wine lover. It is, quite simply, the definitive book on Washington wine. “Washington Wine and Wineries” retails for $35 and is available in bookstores and wine stores.

Another book that came out in late 2007 was “WineTrails of Washington” by Steve Roberts. This book presents information on over 200 wineries in Washington by grouping them in to a series of WineTrails that the reader can follow. The guide also provides descriptions of where to eat and stay along the way. This was the book I was looking for way back when when I started exploring Washington wine country. It is also, a must have. This book retails for $20.

One slightly more obscure but equally enjoyable book is “Cooking with the Wines of Washington” by Troy and Cheryl-Lynn Townsin. This book is excellent for people who like to cook. The book includes a series of recipes that include suggested Washington wines either as pairings or within the recipe itself. It also provides maps of wine areas and driving distances. This book retails for $24.95.

Finally, in terms of coffee table books, you cannot beat “Winery Dogs of Walla Walla.” This is a beautiful book with pictures of the winery dogs along with write-ups about the dogs from their owners. This book retails for $38.

Another good gift option is a subscription to a wine magazine. Wine Press Northwest is a quarterly publication that is released in March, June, September and December. Wine Press Northwest covers wine within Washington as well as the larger Northwest. Their articles are well written and they offer exceptional wine reviews. Subscription to Wine Press Northwest is $12 annually. In addition to Wine Press Northwest, Wino magazine, which I have written about here previously, is dedicated to writing about Washington wine. This is an engaging magazine which covers a variety of topics (see my full review of Wino here). Wino is freely distributed but you can also have it sent to your doorstep for $3 an issue.