Another Successful Taste Washington

Congratulations to the Washington State Wine Commission and Visit Seattle for another successful Taste Washington March 23-26, capping off Washington state Wine Month.

Thousands of people participated in the annual celebration of the excellent juice made in this state — at the Grand Tasting, educational seminars, lunches on local farms, and at restaurants, wineries, hotels and retailers that offered special deals and promotions throughout the month.

But we hope that people did more than taste the fine wine of Washington. We hope they appreciated it, and the hard work by people in our state’s wine industry – from farmers to vineyard managers to those in the production facilities, winemakers, distributors, marketing specialists, tasting room staff and more.

In particular, we applaud the workers in the vineyard who toil over the grapes and the terroir, the winemakers who balance creativity and science in every barrel and bottle, and their families who support this extreme effort.

We definitely appreciated every taste that was poured for us at the Grand Tasting.

And there were some delicious bites too. Our favorite was these amazing Salted Caramel Fudge Brownies from Blazing Bagels. (Their bagels were mouth-watering too, of course!)

We also enjoyed seafood from Anthony’s Pier 66, Ivar’s, Ray’s Boathouse and The Crab Pot. We munched on a lot of crab cakes this year!

Here are some of our favorite wines, in alphabetical order:

      • Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2014 Quarry Butte Red Bordeaux Blend ($26)
      • Ambassador Wines of Washington 2013 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($38)
      • Andrew Will 2013 Champoux Vineyard Red Blend ($74)
      • Avennia 2015 Oliane Sauvignon Blanc ($28)
      • Barrage Cellars 2012 “Cease and Desist” Cabernet Franc ($35)
      • Barrister Winery 2013 Cabernet Franc ($31), pictured left with Petit Verdot & Barrister’s Block
      • Bartholomew Winery 2014 Tannat ($32)
      • Betz Family Winery 2013 Pere de Famille Cabernet Sauvignon ($75)
      • Boudreaux Cellars 2011 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($115); winemaker Rob Newsom and his daughter Keely are pictured below
      • Canvasback 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain ($40)
      • Cooper Wine Company 2014 L’inizio Bordeaux Blend, Red Mountain ($55)
      • Double Canyon 2014 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($65)
      • Efeste 2013 Big Papa Cabernet Sauvignon ($60)
      • Fidelitas 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain ($50)
      • Figgins 2013 Estate Red Bordeaux Blend ($85)
      • Lauren Ashton Cellars 2013 Cuvee Estelle Red Bordeaux Blend ($50)
      • Maison Bleue 2014 Voyageur Syrah ($50)
      • Obelisco 2012 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain ($50)
      • Saviah Cellars 2013 “The Stones Speak” Syrah ($55)
      • Secret Squirrel 2013 Red Bordeaux Blend ($25)
      • William Church 2014 Keystone Reserve Series, Reserve Syrah ($55)

There were so many other wonderful wineries pouring at Taste Washington, but we unfortunately could not visit every table.

As far as we’re concerned, every month is a good time to celebrate Washington state wine.

Cheers!
Margot and Dave

On Sale Now – Chateau Ste. Michelle 2017 Summer Concert Series

CSM concertSummer must be around the corner because tickets are now on sale for the Chateau Ste. Michelle 2017 Summer Concert Series.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the oldest winery in the state, so its concert lineup, paired with award-winning wine and beautiful surroundings, is even more special.

Think about it: a lazy summer day or evening, kicking back on the manicured lawns of Chateau Ste. Michelle with a peacock or two sauntering by, as you sip on a refreshing summer wine, nibble on tasty munchies from your picnic basket and listen to some amazing music. Ah, summer!

Whether you prefer white, rosé or red wine during the summer, this concert calendar is something to cheer about. Twenty-seven concerts span the range of pop, jazz, rock and blues in the winery’s picturesque outdoor amphitheatre with seating for 4,300. The series kicks off on June 1 with a concert by Elvis Costello & The Imposters and ends on Sept. 15 with the Goo-Goo Dolls.

Please note – tickets sell quickly for this incredible summer experience, so act soon. Two John Legend concerts on June 3 and 4 have already sold out. We saw him last year at Chateau Ste. Michelle and what an entertaining show!

Concerts that have not yet sold out (as of this writing) are: Elvis Costello & The Imposters (June 1); The Moody Blues (June 11); Chris Isaak (July 1); Blondie & Garbage (July 13); Lyle Lovett & his Large Band (July 15); Lindsey Buckingham & Christine McVie (July 19); Natalie Merchant (July 22); 2CELLOS (July 23); Diana Krall (July 28); Festival of Jazz (July 29); the Wine Country Blues Festival (July 30); Allen Stone (Aug. 4); Michael McDonald & Boz Scaggs (Aug. 10); Bryan Ferry (Aug. 11); Chicago (Aug. 27); The Gipsy Kings (Sept. 1); The Australian Pink Floyd Show (Sept. 4); Steve Winwood (Sept. 8); Pink Martini with singer China Forbes (Sept. 9 and 10); and Goo Goo Dolls with Phillip Phillips (Sept. 15).

And there’s more — net proceeds from the annual concert series help fund Chateau Ste. Michelle’s charitable contributions program, which supports a broad range of non-profit organizations.

Have questions? No problem, there is an FAQ to help out.

So get your wine on and check it out.

Cheers!
Margot and Dave

It’s Back! The Northwest Wine Encounter at Semiahmoo

The second annual Northwest Wine Encounter at Semiahmoo Resort will be held April 28-30, when some of the northwest’s most talented winemakers and viticulturists will be holding seminars, tastings and attending a gala dinner:

We have had the pleasure of meeting Mike Sauer, Chris Upchurch and Walter Gehringer in the past, and have tasted wines from all of the attending wineries and vineyards. We also attended last year’s inaugural Northwest Wine Encounter — so we can personally attest to the experiences awaiting you this year at Semiahmoo Resort.

The event is packed with educational and fun times, opening on Friday, April 28 with a “Winemaker’s Reception,” followed by a private beach bonfire with gourmet s’mores at the spectacular resort.

Saturday’s activities include educational seminars hosted by Andy Perdue of Wine Press Northwest, who is also a wine columnist for The Seattle Times. Keynote speaker will be retailer and collector Doug Charles of Compass Wines.

Participants will also have the unique opportunity to taste wines one-on-one with participating winemakers at Saturday’s “Wine Speed Dating.”

Saturday culminates with an intimate Vintner’s Dinner Gala — a five-course meal crafted by Bruno Feldeisen, executive chef at Semiahmoo Resort’s Pierside Kitchen, and celebrity chef Roy Breiman of Coastal Hotels. The courses will be paired by wines from all wineries in attendance.

Sunday’s seminar, “Importance of Place,” looks at the importance of a vineyard’s location (or a location within a vineyard) to the grape-growing process.

The entire weekend package — including two nights at the gorgeous resort — starts at $475 per person. Local residents can phone for more details: (360) 318-2000. Further information is available at Semiahmoo Resort’s website.

We hope to see you there!

Cheers!
Margot and Dave

 

Happy 50th Anniversary to Chateau Ste. Michelle

This year marks an historical milestone for Chateau Ste. Michelle and the Washington wine industry — it’s the 50th anniversary of the oldest winery in the state, so let the celebrations begin!

Ste. Michelle’s anniversary activities include a commemorative Cabernet bottling, library wine releases, a special anniversary Summer Concert Series, the opening of a newly expanded visitor center and other events to honor the state’s founding winery.

According to the winery, “Chateau Ste. Michelle has become the number two premium domestic wine brand sold in the U.S. (Nielsen-Dollars), with wines available in all 50 states and more than 100 countries.”

“It is truly remarkable what Chateau Ste. Michelle and the Washington wine industry have accomplished in a relatively short period of time through a pioneering spirit, collaboration and hard work,” said Ted Baseler, President and CEO of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. “With significant new vineyard plantings, industry investment in research and the education of future grape growers and winemakers, we can honestly say the best is yet to come.”

Here are the “50 cheers to 50 years” events and projects planned by the winery this year; you can also view the winery’s 50th Anniversary video or view a Celebration page on its website.

Special Bottling Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley 
In April, to kick off the anniversary celebrations, the winery will release a commemorative label 50th Anniversary special bottling of its Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (750ml, SRP: $15), which will pay tribute to the first 1967 vintage. In addition, a one-time magnum (1.5L) bottling will be released for retail and restaurants and serve as a great collector’s item.

Golden Cork Sweepstakes
From April 1 to Sept. 30, inside every 50th Anniversary special bottling of Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is a chance to win one of 50 prizes. Four Grand Prize winners will be selected to win a trip for two to visit Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville.

2017 Summer Concert Series
From June to September, the winery will host its popular annual Summer Concert Series with special artists to be announced in April 2017. Launched in 1984, the Summer Concert Series has featured top artists including Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, John Legend, Harry Connick, Jr. and many more.

IMPETUS
In September, the winery will release 4,800 numbered bottles of IMPETUS (750ml, SRP $125) by Chateau Ste. Michelle, the brand’s wine showcasing the three varieties that are stellar in the Washington region but are not traditionally blended together (Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Malbec).

Chateau Ste. Michelle History Book
The winery will release a highly illustrated coffee-table style book to tell the rich story of the Washington wine industry and Ste. Michelle’s role in bringing it to the forefront, commemorating the winery’s five decades of tradition and innovation.

Newly Expanded Visitor Center
Targeted for August 2017, Chateau Ste. Michelle will unveil an expansion of the winery’s visitor center — the largest in the company’s history. Doubling the size to 22,731 sq. ft., the new visitor center will feature a modern 70-seat theater, an interactive blending room (where guests create their own bottle of wine from the winery’s iconic estate vineyards), private tasting salons, a Club Room, an Enoteca to sell wines from sister wineries in the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates portfolio, a new outdoor terrace and more. A grand opening celebration will take place during Labor Day weekend, Sept. 2-3.

Congratulations and thank you, Chateau Ste. Michelle!

50 Cheers to 50 Years!
Margot and Dave

 

The Super Bowl of Wine Events Celebrates its 20th Anniversary

Taste Washington celebrates its 20th anniversary in Seattle on March 23-26, with almost 300 wineries, more than 70 restaurants and top national chefs. It’s an explosion of tastes, fun and education, all rolled into one.

As far back as we can remember, we’ve always called Taste Washington “the Super Bowl of Wine Events” because it is the country’s largest single-region wine and food event. Period.

And this year’s expanded lineup offers four days packed with diverse activities. First up is “super-exclusive wine pours” at the VIP Red & White Party.

Taste Washington on the Farm gives you an opportunity to explore the northwest’s bounty, alongside farmers, chefs and winemakers. And then there’s The New Vintage with its trendy Rosé Lounge.

Don’t forget the super-informative and fun wine seminars, which include tastings and interactive panels, where you can find out — from top winemakers, Master Sommeliers and national wine personalities — why Washington state is a world-class wine region.

We love to go every year and encourage you to run, don’t walk, to get your tickets. If you’re planning to attend multiple Taste Washington events, you might be interested in The Connoisseur festival pass for four days of VIP access.

Note: Before you enter the Grand Tasting doors, we highly recommend that you develop a plan. Because once there, you will be hit with a massive amount of taste potentials — and it can be overwhelming.

For example, one year we decided to only taste Cabernet Franc, as a standalone varietal. Another year, we decided to visit booths of some of our tried and favorite wineries plus five new ones.

But we always leave room for some flexibility; chances are something will catch our eye as we walk through the aisles, and we’ll make an on-the-spot decision to deviate from the plan. There could be a new wine release that grabbed our attention or a mouth-watering dish, whose scent wafted our way.

Of note, we recommend tasting and spitting wine (or pouring it into the buckets at each booth) at this major event, but if you think you might want more than a sip or two, many hotels in the area are offering special weekend packages. Otherwise, be sure to have a designated driver, or take cabs or local transit home.

We hope to see you there!

Cheers!
Margot and Dave

Run, Don’t Walk, for Tickets to Seattle Wine and Food Experience

Whether you live in Washington state, Oregon or British Columbia, you’d better move quickly – tickets are going fast for the ninth annual  Seattle Wine and Food Experience. If you like good wine, beer and food, mark your calendars for this taste explosion on Feb. 24-26.

“The Seattle Wine and Food Experience curates an incredible list of makers and producers and supports the community,” according to Jamie Peha, executive producer and president of Peha Promotions, who has been running the event since 2010More than 600 wines are available for tasting throughout the weekend, along with a huge selection of breweries, ciders and distilleries. And with three days at a variety of price options, guests can attend just one event or splurge and enjoy the whole weekend.

The activities kick off Feb. 24 with Pop! Bubbles & Seafood at McCaw Hall from 6-9 p.m., followed by Comfort on Feb. 25 at the Fremont Foundry from 5-8 p.m., and the popular  Grand Tasting on Feb. 26 at Seattle Center Exhibition Hall from 1-5 p.m. — but once again there is a VIP experience, with a one-hour early entry.

Pop! Bubbles & Seafood offers more than 30 sparkling wines from around the world, paired with delicious seafood prepared by local chefs. A wonderful Seattle experience!

Comfort features comfort food such as mac and cheese and burgers, along with beer and cider. Oh, and did we mention a Fry Bar? How cool is that?

The Grand Tasting is the largest of the three events, with 25 chefs, 100 wineries and dozens of beer, cider and spirits purveyors. You can find a full list of wineries that will be pouring, along with beer and cider and spirits, in addition to information about numerous restaurants serving gourmet bites.

The event benefits Les Dames d’Escoffier Seattle, a philanthropic organization that provides scholarships and mentoring for women in the culinary, beverage, and hospitality industries.

Tickets are available at the Seattle Wine and Food Experience website.

So run, don’t walk to get your tickets! We hope to see you there.

Cheers!
Margot and Dave

Wine & Halloween Candy, Oh My!

Screen Shot 2016-02-07 at 3.32.47 PMVivino’s popular guide to decide which wines to pair with Halloween candy has been updated this year — what a fun initiative. And c’mon, who hasn’t thought about a glass of wine while handing out treats or going to a Halloween party?

According to Vivino: “The most important things in a Halloween Survival Kit for adults are wine, candy, and more wine.”

In this year’s “Halloween Candy and Wine Match Maker” list, there are tasting notes on pairings, too, for those who want to “really nerd out.”

screen-shot-2016-10-30-at-9-42-42-amFor example, this is from the notes about the pairing of Whoppers and Cabernet Sauvignon: “The huge malty character of whoppers needs a wine with backbone and depth to keep from being overpowered by the malt and chocolate.”

For Hershey Kisses and Zinfandel: “The best wine contrasts creamy milk chocolate with ripe berry flavors. America’s sweetheart, Zinfandel, turns every bite into a raspberry cordial on the palate.”

These notes are just a taste (pun intended) of the fun pairings you can find in the guide. Have a look before, during and after Halloween!

Vivino’s Ultimate Guide to Pairing Wine with Halloween Candy

Yes, we are major fans of Vivino, and back in February, recommended downloading the free Vivino Wine App. We use Vivino to help us find details about wines before we purchase them — either online, from a retail outlet or in a restaurant. We also use the premium feature to organize our wine cellar. Love it!

Cheers!
Margot and Dave

Woodinville Wineries

Screen Shot 2016-07-24 at 9.14.49 AMNow that we don’t live in Seattle anymore, we have to carefully choose the wineries we want to visit on our trips to Woodinville.

It is not an easy task! Woodinville Wine Country boasts 108 wineries now — an amazing growth rate since 30 tasting rooms when we started Write for Wine in 2007.

Here is a list of the wineries (in alphabetical order) that we tend to visit most often — they are among the best, although there are more. So spend your time wisely – do your homework and develop a plan before you go!

  • Alexandria Nicole Cellars
  • Ambassador Wines
  • Avennia
  • Baer
  • Barrage Cellars
  • Chateau Ste. Michelle (Estates)
  • Darby
  • DeLille Cellars
  • Efeste
  • Fidelitas
  • Forgeron
  • Gard Vintners
  • Gorman Winery
  • Guardian Cellars
  • JM Cellars
  • Laura Ashton
  • Obelisco
  • Otis Kenyon
  • Savage Grace
  • William Church
  • The Woodhouse Wine Estates

For a list of all wineries in the area (including maps), restaurants and events, check out the Woodinville Wine Country website.

We highly recommend visiting Woodinville wineries every month, because there are always new releases to taste and a warm, welcoming tasting room where you can learn about wine and have fun at the same time.

Cheers!
Margot and Dave

Semiahmoo Resort’s Oenophile Club

Screen Shot 2016-03-20 at 12.45.13 PMSemiahmoo Resort launched a unique wine club this month, targeted at wine aficionados in Washington state and British Columbia.

The Oenophile Club features six wine tastings annually, plus reduced pricing for a number of events at the spectacular resort.

  • Six wine tastings annually; additional tastings throughout the year are reduced to $15 per tasting (full price is $20)
  • No corkage fee on one bottle per visit, per week, at Pierside Kitchen or Packers Oyster Bar
  • Advanced notice of all vintner and winemaker dinner dates — including Spring Valley (July 28), Cakebread Cellars (Oct. 4), Stag’s Leap (Nov. 3) and more. See more details in our previous blog post.
    • Preferred vintner and winemaker dinner reservations at 10% off
    • Special reserved seating for eight guests and 10% off entire reservation (when using one member card)
  • Access to private wine storage in resort wine room, subject to availability; maximum five bottles
  • Access to private cooking classes, and wine pairings, at Pierside Kitchen with the resort chef
  • Preferred resort room rates on vintner and winemaker dinner nights, subject to availability
  • Personalized Oenophile Club card

The annual cost is $225 — which works out to be less than $20 per month.

So now you have an opportunity to support your local resort – and have fun doing it!

We hope to see you there!

Cheers!
Margot and Dave

UPDATE: Some Tickets Still Available for Chateau Ste. Michelle Concert Series

Dylan June 2016Our first sign of summer is not only the recent warm weather, but also the annual concert series at Chateau Ste. Michelle. We just saw the legendary Bob Dylan, with the incredible Mavis Staples, for an evening of great music and award-winning wine on the lush lawns of the beautiful winery in Woodinville.

Dylan was amazing — his May release of “Fallen Angels” is a return to his roots, and in our opinion, his best since “Blood on the Tracks.”

You too can attend a concert at Chateau Ste. Michelle this summer. While many are sold out, do not fear – a recent check shows there are tickets still available for ten concerts!

Have a look at the series’ concert calendar — there’s something for everybody. When we last checked, there were still tickets for: Tears for Fears (date TBD); Lyle Lovett (July 2); John Fogerty (July 29); Culture Club (Aug. 11); Jackson Browne (Aug. 12); Gipsy Kings (Aug. 25); Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons (Sept. 2); and Chris Isaak (Sept. 4) in addition to the Festival of Jazz (July 30) and the Wine Country Blues Festival (July 31).

Dylan1 June 2016Think about it: a lazy summer day or evening, kicking back on the manicured lawns of Chateau Ste. Michelle with a peacock or two sauntering by, as you sip on a refreshing summer wine, nibble on tasty munchies from a picnic basket and listen to some amazing music. Ah, summer!

Better yet, net proceeds from the annual concert series help fund Chateau Ste. Michelle’s charitable contributions program, which supports a broad range of non-profit organizations.

Have questions? No problem, there is an FAQ to help out.

So get your wine on and check it out.

And thank you, Chateau Ste. Michelle, for a wonderful evening.

Cheers!
Margot and Dave