Taste of Tulalip: Only Two Weeks Left

In just two weeks, one of the best wine-and-food events in the northwest will be held at the Tulalip Resort Taste of Tulalip, a weekend extravaganza of excellent wine and delicious food.

A tasting reception and celebratory dinner start the weekend on Friday, Nov. 9, followed by the Grand Taste, which we have attended annually since it was first held four years ago. The good news – there are still tickets available!

What better way to spend a November Saturday afternoon? In addition to experiencing a taste sensation, you’ll probably find some great wines for your Thanksgiving dinner table or for holiday gifts for family and friends.

Grand Taste features pours from 65 Washington wineries, 20 Napa Valley wineries, 20 Oregon wineries, 20 Italian wineries and 20 French wineries, along with multiple food stations by Tulalip Resort‘s award-winning chefs.

Or you could get an all-access pass for Saturday, which includes an early entrance to the Grand Taste, plus cooking demonstrations and a magnum party featuring some of the most highly sought-after wines from around the world. Last year, we tasted the amazing Bordeaux, Chateau Margaux, at this magnificent magnum party.

Yes, we will most definitely be there again this year. And we are planning to stay over at the stunning Tulalip Resort again too.

Taste of Tulalip is recognized as one of the top Northwest foodie “happenings” – an explosion of aromas and flavors that kicks off the holiday season in a unique way.

    We hope to see you there!


    Do Not Miss Taste of Tulalip 2012

    Run, don’t walk, to get your tickets to Taste of Tulalip, one of the best wine-and-food events offered in the northwest.

    Yes, it’s a month away, but tickets go quickly and this is one experience you do not want to miss.

    The weekend extravaganza kicks off with a tasting reception and celebratory dinner on Friday, Nov. 9. The Grand Taste is held the following day, Saturday, Nov. 10, and features pours from 65 Washington wineries, 20 Napa Valley wineries, 20 Oregon wineries, 20 Italian wineries and 20 French wineries, along with multiple food stations by Tulalip Resort‘s award-winning chefs.

    Or you could get an all-access pass for Saturday, which includes an early entrance to the Grand Taste, plus cooking demonstrations and our personal favorite, a magnum party featuring some of the most highly sought-after wines from around the world. Last year, we were delighted to see the exquisite Bordeaux queen, Chateau Margaux, on the tasting lineup at this magnificent magnum party.

    This is the lineup for Saturday’s All-Access Pass:

    • 11:30 AM – He Said, She Said with “Thirsty Girl” Leslie Sbrocco and Sommelier Tommy Thompson
    • 12:30 PM – Cooking demonstration with Chef Marcus Samuelsson, a 3-Time James Beard Award Winner, TV personality and author, and a question-and-answer session with Executive Chef Perry Mascitti and emcee Leslie Sbrocco.
    • 1:30 PM – Private Magnum Party in mpulse lounge hosted by Seattle wine expert Christopher Chan. You’ll be treated to some of the most elite wines from around the world, selected by Sommelier Tommy Thompson and paired with a menu of Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s appetizers
    • 1:30 PM – Early entrance into the Grand Taste
    • 4:00 PM – Rock-n-Roll Cooking Challenge judged by Leslie Sbrocco, Guest Chef Marcus Samuelsson and Chef Wayne Johnson

    Yes, we will most definitely be there again this year.  And we’d love to stay over at the stunning Tulalip Resort again too – what a wonderful hotel and a great way to enhance the weekend even further.

    Here are our posts from last year’s Taste of Tulalip:

    We heart Taste of Tulalip, and we hope to see you there!


    WBC Here I Come!

    This weekend is the 2012 Wine Bloggers Conference in Portland, where I’ll be live tweeting. You can follow my tweets  @writeforwine Thursday night through Monday night, and you can follow the conference’s twitter stream #WBC12, highlighting the opinions of about 350 wine writers in attendance.

    I’ll also be posting on the Write for Wine Facebook page, and hope you’ll stop by to “like” it!

    This will be my second time at WBC – my inaugural attendance was at #WBC10 in Walla Walla, where I met fellow wine bloggers, writers and tweeters, many of whom became my good friends. One of the craziest and best events was “Live Wine Blogging,” described by conference organizers as “sort of like speed dating, matching wineries to bloggers in five-minute segments.”

    At WBC10, the Live Wine Blogging hour did indeed speed by, as wine makers and winery marketing folks handed out tasting notes, poured and quickly described their wines, as we tweeted, spit and spilled our way through a number of offerings, ranging from boxes to $185 bottles, sometimes side-by-side.

    This year, an action-packed weekend awaits us in the Portland area, which is extra special for me because it’s where I began writing about wine in 1997, when I managed content after launching KOIN-TV’s website.

    In addition to Live Wine Blogging, activities include mystery bus trips to wine country — a visit to a vineyard and a winery, followed by dinner at a local restaurant or another winery. You don’t know where the buses are going until you get on one, hence the mystery.

    And new this year at WBC is the “Night of Many Bottles” — an evening where everyone brings a bottle of their favorite wine to share with others. In past years, this has been done informally by friends who got together when the formal activities were done. This year, the conference organizers decided to make it part of the official weekend fun.

    And no, the weekend is not only about drinking wine! There are plenty of opportunities to learn about grapes, terroir, wine making, writing and blogging, with keynote speeches, breakout sessions, blogger-to-blogger discussions, Ignite! wine groups and wine blog awards.

    While the focus of the weekend will be on the fine wines of Oregon – and I can’t wait – there are also some other events dear to my heart:

    • A Washington wine event called One Night Stand, featuring magnums from top Washington producers (on Twitter, #WAOneNight)
    • An opportunity to taste new wines of Greece, just a month before I’ll be heading that way to another conference

    I’m also really looking forward to a post-WBC tour to wine country in Carlton, Oregon, where a group of some of my favorite blogger friends will attend Carlton’s Walk in the Park, and stop by several wineries, including Ken Wright Cellars, which I’ve always wanted to visit.

    Next year’s Wine Bloggers Conference is in Penticton, in my home province of British Columbia. So you can imagine how much I’m also looking forward to WBC13! But first, Portland – stay tuned!



    If you love blends …

    … like we love blends, then mark your calendar right now for the third annual – you guessed it – BLEND event on Sept. 16 at Seattle waterfront’s Bell Harbor Conference Center.

    We have not missed this event ever, because Bordeaux blends have been some of our favorite wines for years. I was asked to be a judge at this year’s BLEND blind tasting, but it’s during the day when I work at my “day job,” unfortunately.

    But thankfully we can attend the event, which not only showcases Washington’s hottest blends, but also enticing gourmet food samples from some award-winning hotel restaurants.

    Specifically, BLEND features more than 40 Washington wineries, barrel blending stations and international tasting stations, in addition to a “Bubble Lounge” with champagne, sparkling wines and cider and oysters.

    While both of our palates favor Bordeaux-style blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot, others prefer southern Rhone-style blends of Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre.

    Some of our favorites are unique-to-Washington blends of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, such as William Church 2008 2 Spires and Gorman 2009 Evil Twin. Unfortunately, neither will be at this event, but some of our other favorites, such as DiStefano 2007 Sogno (Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon) will be definite pours for us.

    Some white blends – perfect summer sippers — will also be available, such as the award-winning Shepherd’s Mark southern Rhone blend (Roussanne, Viognier and Marsanne) from Alexandria Nicole Cellar and Optu White Bordeaux blend (Sauvignon Blanc and Semillion) from Fidelitas.

    For a full list of wineries pouring at BLEND, in addition to tickets, visit the BLEND website. Net proceeds from the $49-per-person admission will benefit the Washington Wine Industry Foundation.

    We hope to see you there!


    Great Summer Idea: Yakima Valley Vineyard Tours

    One of our favorite vineyards in Washington state is Red Willow Vineyard – not only for the premium grapes grown there, but also for the down-to-earth (pun intended) wonderful owners Mike and Jon Sauer.

    We had the privilege to spend time with the Sauers during a trip to Red Willow shortly after this blog launched in 2007. My first post discussed the Sauer family and their unique story, while the rest of the five-part series covered the terroir, the history and even Mariners baseball giant, Edgar Martinez.

    So I was delighted to recently hear that more than a dozen lucky wine enthusiasts had the opportunity to experience the joy of Red Willow Vineyards and the Sauer hospitality a week ago, on July 7.

    The Red Willow event was the first in a four-vineyard series conducted by the Wine Yakima Valley Association, whose executive director Barb Glover reported: “Owners Mike and Jonathan Sauer shared the inspiring story of their work operating one of the most historic vineyards in America, and why the Yakima Valley is one of the world’s true ‘sweet spots’ for wine grape production.

    “This kind of experience is normally reserved for visits by influential members of the wine trade and the media. But the 30th anniversary of the Yakima Valley’s designation as Washington State’s first official wine region is on the near horizon; so we want to celebrate by opening some farm gates and sharing with the wider world how we have grown to greatness as a regional wine industry.”

    After the Red Willow tour came the DuBrul Vineyard on July 14. The two remaining tours will be held at Upland Vineyard (July 21) and Boushey Vineyard (July 28). Tickets for each event are $75 and can be found at the Wine Yakima Valley website.

    It’s been our experience that vineyard visits are always something to cherish for many years to come.


    Chateau Ste. Michelle Summer Concerts

    You always know spring is in the air when Chateau Ste. Michelle starts selling tickets to its amazing Summer Concert Series. This year’s lineup of renowned musicians tops even last year’s – and that’s no small feat!

    The 2012 lineup includes the Beach Boys 50th Anniversary Tour, Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band, Chris Isaak, Steve Martin & EmmyLou Harris, Diana Krall, Blondie, Bonnie Raitt and Crosby, Stills & Nash.

    The series begins with John Fogerty on June 16 and wraps up with Huey Lewis and the News on September 16. There are three months’ of options on the concert calendar along with answers to any questions you might have about how to prepare for, and what to expect from, a concert outdoors.

    We had such a wonderful evening at the Moody Blues concert last year, and are looking forward to another special time this year.

    Tickets are now on sale at Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Wine Shop and through Ticketmaster.

    What are you waiting for? It’s a wonderful way to spend a lazy summer evening of music and wine in a beautiful location.


    Washington in Washington

    A day of double-takes comprised what I like to call our experience of “Washington in Washington.”

    Dave and I were in Washington, D.C. at the same time as this state’s Washington Wine Commission held a trade and media tasting there.

    Ryan Pennington, the Commission’s social-media-savvy PR director, saw my Facebook update that we were headed to D.C., so he kindly invited us to stop by the tasting event at the Rooftop Terrace at The John F. Kennedy Center.

    Of course we went! The tasting area was packed, and we listened with pride as many D.C.-area wine experts, restaurant owners, media and wine enthusiasts extolled the virtues of Washington state wine.

    And we laughed at the looks on the faces of several winemakers and winery owners when they saw us, out of context, in “the other Washington!”

    “What are you doing here?” exclaimed Charlie Hoppes of Fidelitas, Mike White of Barrister, Lisa Baer of Baer, John Abbott of Abeja, Darcey Fugman-Small of Woodward Canyon, Jerry Riener of Guardian Cellars and Doug Long of Obelisco.

    “We just happened to be in the neighborhood and heard some excellent Washington state wine was being poured here,” we replied.

    We also had an opportunity to taste wine and talk to Daniel Wampfler of Dunham Cellars, Kristi and Lou Facelli of Facelli, Kim Bolander of L’Ecole 41, Debbie Hansen of Cougar Crest, and Mark McNeilly of Mark Ryan.

    These were the wines we tasted and recommend (in alphabetical order):

    • Abeja 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla ($52)
    • Baer 2009 Ursa Red Bordeaux Blend, Columbia Valley ($39)
    • Cougar Crest 2007 Estate Cabernet Franc, Walla Walla ($38)
    • Dunham Cellars 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon XIV, Columbia Valley ($45)
    • Facelli 2008 Barbera, Columbia Valley ($25)
    • Fidelitas 2008 Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain ($55)
    • Guardian Cellars 2009 Gun Metal Red Bordeaux Blend, Columbia Valley ($37)
    • L’Ecole 41 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla ($37)
    • Long Shadows 2007 Feather Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley ($55)
    • Mark Ryan 2009 Dead Horse Red Bordeaux Blend, Red Mountain ($52)
    • Obelisco 2009 Electrum Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain ($65)
    • Woodward Canyon 2009 Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington State ($54)

    Frankly, I couldn’t say it any better than the Washington Wine Commission’s brochure:

    “Washington State’s exceptional grapes reach their potential in the hands of extraordinary winemakers, who create bright and balanced expressions of our region with world-class wines.”

    Cheers to Washington state winemakers!

    Washington Wine Fun Facts

    The Washington Wine Commission released fun facts about Washington wine at Taste Washington again this year, and we thought it would be fun to compare this year to last year’s facts:


    Washington state is the second-largest premium wine producer in the United States (after California).

    • YES in 2011 and 2012

    There are 730 wineries in Washington state and 350+ grape growers.

    • In 2011, there were 700+ wineries & 350+ grape growers

    More than 30 varietals are produced in Washington state.

    • In 2011, more than 60 (Interesting reversal!)

    The leading white varietals produced in Washington state are Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Viognier, Semillon and Chenin Blanc.

    • Same order in both 2011 and 2012

    The leading red varietals produced in Washington state are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Cab Franc, Malbec, Sangiovese, Pinot Noir and Lemberger.

    • Same order in both 2011 and 2012

    The ratio of white-to-red wine is 55% white to 45% red.

    • In 2011, the ratio was 54% white to 46% red.

    The average hours of summer sunlight in Washington state: 17.4 hours per day, about two hours more than California’s prime growing region

    • Surprising to many, the answer is YES in both years.

    The annual rainfall is eight inches in eastern Washington (our state’s major grape growing region) and 48 inches in western Washington.

    • YES in both years

    We hope you enjoyed these factoids as much as we did!


    Taste Washington Weekend

    Taste Washington weekend is here, and from all accounts we’ve heard, opening day Saturday was a huge success! See below for a sampling of tweets from our friends and colleagues. We’ll be there Sunday, so be sure to follow my live Twitter stream @WriteforWine.

    A plan is necessary at Taste Washington, where there are more than 200 Washington wineries pouring from several bottles – and if you’re a Facebook fan or Twitter friend, chances are you’ll be offered a “little something special” from under the table.

    Just be sure to spit or spill – it’s acceptable and appreciated. Enjoy the tasty bites from some of Washington state’s best restaurants. And please do take a cab!

    We’re going to follow our plan from last year:

    1. Taste Cabernet Franc
    2. Taste new releases from wineries we know
    3. Taste releases from wineries we are not familiar with
    4. Last but not least, visit friends at wineries to say hello

    Again, you can follow my tweets live from Taste Washington Sunday at @WriteforWine. Meanwhile, here are some tweets highlighting Saturday’s tasting and seminars:

    @TasteWashington: The doors are open and the clinking of glasses can already be heard. Welcome to #TasteWA 2012! http://pic.twitter.com/1TqUOcIv

    @WmChurchwinery: Headed to #tastewa? See u there right by the Viking stage..in the back this yr. search & u will find

    @MsTerroir: #TasteWa check out @NWTotemCellars @GardVintners @WmChurchwinery @ForgeronCellars @TreveriCellars @grapegeek….+ more! #wawine

    @44vines: It’s #TasteWA Visit me at Table 5B when you walk in @redmtnava

    @lecole41: fantastic, glad everyone is enjoying the merlot ! #tastewa #seminar

    @Forgeron Cellars: Ready to pour! #tastewa don’t forget to mention twitter & ’07 Vinfinity

    @BlackPearlSEA: ’02 @colsolare Red. Get it before it’s gone! #TasteWA #WAwine

    @SeattleMaven: @ElGauchoSteak Good gawd … you spoil me! #TasteWA http://pic.twitter.com/BorQSK7c

    @WaWineReport: Make sure to check out the Northridge Vineyard table and other vineyard tables. #tastewa

    @wild4wawine: @cougarcrest @tastewashington out of the park #wawine

    @LaurelhurstWine: Sweet Decadence artisan chocolates pairing @TasteWashington come by booth 12A

    @WinePeeps: Amazing! RT @TulalipResort: try our Fried Chocolate Bread Pudding and Bourbon Caramel-Vanilla Milkshakes at #TasteWA

    Hope to see you Sunday at Taste Washington – come celebrate Washington Wine Month!



    Wonderful Walla Walla Wine

    Regular readers of this blog know we are major fans of Walla Walla wine. We don’t get to visit Walla Walla nearly as often as we would like, so when Walla Walla comes to Seattle, it’s a must-go-to event.

    So I dashed out to SoDo during my lunch break to visit friends and have a few (very small) tastes at “Walla Walla Wine @SoDo Park” last week.

    I could only visit a few booths, and I know I missed out on lots of wineries. I wish I could have stayed longer, but work beckoned me back.

    Here are the wines I tasted and would definitely purchase:

    • Abeja 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon – This fine Cab is blended with 4% Merlot, in John Abbot’s fashion of being true to the varietal and to the state.
    • L’Ecole 41 2009 Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon – I’ve been a major fan of this wine since the 2001 vintage.
    • Otis Kenyon 2008 Syrah – It has that “In the Rocks” funk – yum!
    • Watermill 2008 Cabernet Franc – if you love Cab Franc like I do, this is a must-buy.
    • Woodward Canyon 2009 Estate Reserve – It won’t be released until summer but the potential is already magnificent.

    There are many, many more excellent Walla Walla wineries – and we highly recommend you visit them in Walla Walla. Some of them have tasting rooms in Woodinville too.