April 23, 2009
On Sunday, April 5, 3,500 Washington wine lovers flocked to the Taste Washington! Grand Tasting at Qwest Field Event Center, according to a press release issued by the Washington Wine Commission. More Washington wineries–more than 225–poured than ever before, and a record number of restaurants–more than 60–served delicious bites.
Though ticket sales were down slightly from 2008, according to the Commission, many wineries and exhibitors noted the high degree of wine knowledge and enthusiasm of the attendees. Several expressed their satisfaction in interacting with wine consumers who seemed extremely dedicated to tasting and expanding their knowledge of Washington wine.
The educational seminars at this year’s Taste Washington proved very popular. These seminars included panel discussions on a variety of topics, including tastings of several different wines from a single vineyard or single grape variety. There were also seminars on new developments in winemaking in Washington state, whether by a second-generation family winemaker or in a converted old firehouse from WWII. We enjoyed learning more about the venerable Klipsun and Champoux Vineyards with Klipsun owner Patricia Gelles and Champoux owner and grower Paul Champoux.
Wine experts from the Northwest and around the country were recruited to speak. The speakers included Ray Isle of Food & Wine magazine; Bruce Schoenfeld of Travel + Leisure magazine; John Bonné of the San Francisco Chronicle; Patrick Comiskey of Wine & Spirits magazine and the Los Angeles Times; noted Northwest wine expert Paul Gregutt; Alder Yarrow of Vinography.com, widely regarded as the world’s leading wine blog; and master sommelier Michael Jordan, global wine manager for Disney properties.
To top it all off, a game show-style seminar gave audience members a chance to win prizes through a blind taste-off of Washington wines and similar wines from around the globe. With six wines to decipher, it was quite challenging, even for the Masters of Wine and Master Sommeliers. Here’s Washington Wine Commission director of education and Master Sommelier Shayn Bjornholm talking up the panelists while wearing his famous powder-blue tuxedo.