Header graphic for print
Washington | Wine | PR Parked at the Intersection of Marketing, PR & Washington's Wine Industry

Heading to Taste Washington? Here’s how to make the most of the experience, part 1

Posted in Events, Interviews

It’s Washington Wine Month, the annual state-wide promotion of Washington’s wine industry. The month is loaded with all kinds of wine-related events topped off by Taste Washington.

Taste Washington is the nation’s largest single-region wine and food event. More than 225 wineries and 60 restaurants fill up CenturyLink Field Event Center for two days of wine, food and education. This will be my 10th Taste Washington and I still find it a little intimidating – where to go, what to do, which wines to taste, and on and on. So I figured I’d ask the experts for advice.

Steve Warner is president of the Washington State Wine Commission, the outfit that markets the Washington wine industry and co-produces Taste Washington in conjunction with Visit Seattle. I asked him for advice on how best to enjoy the event.

Steve, what advice would you give people so they can best enjoy Taste Washington?

There are many ways to enjoy Taste Washington depending on what you hope to get out of the event. One great way to start is to attend seminars. On Saturday we are offering a great seminar for wine newcomers called “Intro into the World of Wine.” This seminar will be great for anybody who wants to become more familiar with Washington State wines before tackling the Grand Tasting. For the veteran wine fan, check out “WASHINGTON vs. The World!” on Saturday or the celebration of the Yakima Valley 30th Anniversary on Sunday.

We’ve designed the space so there are plenty of places to rest and pace yourself. Tasting wine for 3 or 4 hours straight is challenging, so I recommend that people enjoy the great restaurants and exhibitors as well.

If you’re on Twitter make sure to follow the #TasteWA hashtag for advice from fellow attendees – that’s where you’ll hear about the hidden gems around the event.

If you’re serious about your wine tasting, you can take notes on the best wines you find. But the easiest way to remember what you taste and like is to snap pictures of the wines you like with your phone

What’s new / different this year at Taste Washington?

For the first time ever, we have included some non-wine seminars. One such seminar, “Cure what Ales ya!”, combines a master beer sommelier with our 2013 Washington State Wine Restaurant of the Year, Visconti’s.

If you’re on Twitter make sure to follow the #TasteWA hashtag for advice from fellow attendees – that’s where you’ll hear about the hidden gems around the event.

Mike Kelley will share his wisdom about beer and charcuterie pairing; a skill that will always come in handy when you’re hosting parties. We also have a cider and cheese pairing seminar
on Sunday this year to celebrate all the great ciders in Washington State.

We also have more restaurants this year than ever before and we’ve added some great hotel packages to make it easy to stay for the entire weekend. You can add your Taste Washington tickets onto to your hotel room through the website as well (and also avoid Ticketmaster fees!)

Are there any specific areas or exhibits that you’d like to recommend?

One feature we’ve been doing for a few years, and it continues to grow (no pun intended), is the vineyard area – a group of wine grape growers will be there pouring wines from different wineries all made with their fruit. It’s a great chance to explore “terroir,” the sense of place you get from where a wine is grown. It all starts in the vineyard!

Also check out all the terrific AVA associations that will pouring wine from their local wineries. It’s a great place to chat with experts if you are looking to plan a trip into wine country this year. At least nine regional groups will be pouring – stop by and see them!

And of course there is the ever popular oyster bar and dessert bar. Both areas have a wine tasting feature highlighting wines that pair especially well with these foods.

It’s virtually impossible to taste all of the wines available at Taste Washington. What are some good strategies for tasting over one or two days?

Well, there are more than 225 wineries and each winery usually brings 3 wines, plus all the wines at the dessert bar and white out oyster bar so in reality there are more than 750 wines to try at the event – and we definitely don’t recommend trying them all!

Plan what you are most excited to see in advance of the event – the wines being poured are all posted on the website and the entire event program will be posted a week before the event so you can check out who will be there and what they are bringing to sample. Maybe you just want to check out the new releases of your favorite wineries, meet the winemakers from some of your recent favorites, or maybe you are on a quest to try the new guys – either way you can make a list of things to see before you go.

The two-day general admission pass is really a great value. For only $45 more than the one-day general admission ticket you get to go an extra day. Maybe do all whites on Saturday and all reds on Sunday? Or tackle the first half of the alphabet on day one, and the second on day two. I will say that Saturday is bound to be the busier day, so if you can only go for one day, consider attending on Sunday.

And remember – “it’s hip to spit!” You don’t need to finish every wine you are poured. Taste responsibility and you’ll end up finding some great wines that you even remember the next day!

Next week on WA | Wine | PR: More advice from the pros – winemakers and media offer their advice on how to enjoy Taste Washington.