In a sign that the wine touring season is upon us, the Washington State Wine 2011 Tour Guide has been released.

This year’s tour guide has been radically changed from previous versions. The guide is physically larger – magazine-sized instead of a booklet – and sports a considerably more attractive cover. The differences are not just in appearance though.

As in previous years, the guide is divided into eight wine touring regions: Seattle & Puget Sound, Woodinville, Yakima Valley, Tri-Cities, Walla Walla Valley, Spokane & Pullman, Vancouver & Columbia Gorge, and Cascade Valley & North Central. However, in a change, each touring region has an introductory article with information about the area as well as suggestions on when to go, how to get there, places to eat and drink, and things to do (several of these articles were written by yours truly with others by Chris Nishiwaki and Adrianne Dow Young). Recipes with suggested varietal pairings are distributed throughout the guide. There is also a new Washington State AVA map that makes it considerably easier to visualize the state’s grape growing regions (download a .pdf version of the map here).

Look for hard copies of the guide at wineries and retailers throughout the state. Read an electronic version here.