Seattlites, tune in to 1150AM KKNW this Wednesday from 8am-9am when Bob Betz of Betz Family Winery and I will be talking about Washington wine on TableTalk.
1. Check out the seminars
There are a series of education seminars Saturday and Sunday morning exploring topics like food and wine pairing; Washington’s top vineyard sites; and where Washington fits in the world of wine. Read the full list of seminars here.
2. One day or two?
The Grand Tasting is taking place over two days this year. You can attend one day ($75/$125 VIP) or two ($99/$150 VIP). The lineup will be the same both days, but this means that you can potentially sample from a larger number of wineries or not feel as rushed if you decide to attend both days.
3. Make a plan for the Grand Tasting
There are over 200 wineries represented at Taste Washington, so it is only possible to taste wines from a small fraction of them even if you do go both days. You can take a walk and wander approach and taste at wineries as you come across them, or you can have a specific plan of attack.
In terms of making a specific plan, look at the list of participating wineries and categorize ones that you a) definitely want to check out, b) ones that you really hope to go to and c) ones that are on the bubble. Some wineries pour out early, so make sure to visit the ones you definitely want to visit first. You can also make a point of focusing on a single varietal or type of wine. I always like to try to visit wineries I am unfamiliar with as well.
4. Get the lay of the land
The conference center is a massive place and the layout can be a bit confusing at times when you are looking for a particular winery. Make sure to check out the map of the event in the event guide to help get oriented before you go (Note: opens .pdf).
5. It’s hip to spit!
The great thing about Taste Washington is that you are able to taste a large amount of Washington wine in a single setting. However, you can taste even more wine if you make a point to spit most of it out during the event. In previous years there have been spit cups and buckets placed everywhere throughout the event hall. If there are not this time around, grab a cup from the espresso bar and use it to spit into and then pour into the dump buckets. You’ll have a much better time (and a better recollection of the event the next day!). Regardless of whether you spit or not, I strongly advise taking a cab to and from the event.
6. Eat early, eat often
There’s lots of great food at the event so make sure to take advantage of it. In particular, check out the oyster and chowder bar which has a seemingly endless supply of oysters. If you are a vegetarian, it can sometimes be somewhat difficult to find food at times, so keep that in mind.
7. Check out the Taste the Vineyards section
There is a section devoted to vineyards where you can check out wines made from a single source. Vineyards represented this year include Boushey, Cold Creek, and Northridge. See the complete list in the program guide. This area tends to be pretty quiet so you can taste a number of wines reasonably quickly and talk to people about their vineyards.
8. Keep an eye on Twitter and Facebook for special ‘under the table wines’
Some wineries bring special treats for their Social Media fans. Keep an eye out on Facebook and Twitter before and during the event for special ‘under the table’ wines.
9. Have fun!
This is a great event, so make sure to have a good time. Things can get quite crowded at times. If the lines at a particular table get long, try moving on to another spot and coming back. There’s more than enough wine out there.
Below are a just few wines being poured at the event that I have either had before and recommend checking out or am excited to try. Feel free to comment with your own list (or, of course, keep it very, very secret).
Hope to see you there!
Adams Bench 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon “the V” Columbia Valley
aMaurice 2009 Chardonnay Columbia Gorge
Amavi Cellars 2009 Syrah Walla Walla Valley
Andrew Will 2009 Sorella Red Blend Horse Heaven Hills
Barnard Griffin 2011 Rose of Sangiovese Columbia Valley
Betz Family Winery 2009 Clos de Betz Bordeaux Blend Columbia Valley
Cadaretta 2011 SBS White Bordeaux Blend Columbia Valley
Col Solare 2002 Red Blend Columbia Valley
Cote Bonneville 2011 Riesling Yakima Valley
DeLille 2009 Chaleur Estate Red Bordeaux Blend Red Mountain
Doubleback 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley
EFESTE 2009 Ceidleigh Syrah Red Mountain
Elsom 2008 Malbec Columbia Valley
Fidelitas 2008 Boushey Vineyard Red Wine Yakima Valley
FIGGINS 2008 Estate Red Bordeaux Blend Walla Walla Valley
Forgeron 2009 Blacksmith Syrah Columbia Valley
Gramercy Cellars 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley
Long Shadows 2007 Pedestal Merlot Columbia Valley
Maison Bleue 2010 Petite Joie Marsanne Yakima Valley
Mark Ryan 2009 Long Haul Red Bordeaux Blend Red Mountain
Mercer Estates 2008 Petit Verdot Horse Heaven Hills
Northstar 2008 Merlot Walla Walla Valley
Pepper Bridge 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley
Saviah Cellars 2008 Petit Verdot Walla Walla Valley
Sparkman Cellars 2009 Kingpin Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain
Spring Valley Vineyard 2008 Uriah Red Blend Walla Walla Valley
Syncline 2011 Rose (Rhône Blend) Columbia Valley
Tranche Cellars 2009 Slice of Pape Blanc White Rhône Blend Columbia Valley