Not that you need one, but you’ll have plenty of reason to enjoy a bottle of wine this March, as it’s officially Washington Wine Month. To top off everyone’s favorite time of year, the four-day Taste Washington wine and food festival is happening in Seattle, March 23-26. This year, in celebration of its 20th anniversary, Taste Washington attendees can expect more than 300(!) wineries, a slew of celebrity chefs cooking their favorite dishes, and extra “sparkles” (technical term), including a new VIP festival pass and early morning Pike Place Market food tours.
Taste Washington is one of those occasions that’s great to assemble friends, dress up a little, and drink and eat your way through the parties, excursions, seminars and tastings of the festival. Parties aside, Taste Washington has a great educational component. At each event, winemakers and chefs are stationed throughout to describe tasting notes, profiles and nuances of their offerings. Attendees walk away with more knowledge about our state’s bounty and a deeper understanding of what they enjoy in a wine. It’s also an opportunity to get acquainted (or reacquainted) with the state’s top restaurants.
Thursday kicks off the festival with the VIP Red & White Party at AQUA by El Gaucho. The restaurant, cantilevered on Pier 70 over Puget Sound, offers a smart, elegant setting to enjoy exclusive 90-plus point wine pours, delicious bites from Executive Chef Wesley Hood and a Seattle sunset.
Don your wellies and waxed coat as Friday is the day for rustic-chic Taste Washington on the Farm excursions. Guests will head out to a local farm and meet the producer, then enjoy lunch prepared by a chef on-site and paired with wines by a winemaker. Afterwards, clean up and look sharp, because The New Vintage party is at the Four Seasons Hotel Seattle. Featuring a rosé lounge, a DJ spinning hits, and winemakers and chefs pouring and dishing up their best, it’s the perfect precursor to the Grand Tasting and other weekend events.
Saturday and Sunday are the flagship days of the festival. New this year are VIP early morning Taste & Savor Tours at Pike Place Market (a great chance to walk off the night before and have some food before diving into a day of tastings). Also in the morning are educational wine seminars led by top sommeliers that touch on topics including the past 20 years of Washington wine. These events, and the Grand Tasting—basically the largest wine tasting room you’ve ever been to—span both days. At the Grand Tasting, skip around to top wineries where more often than not, the actual winemaker him- or herself is there pouring tastes and discussing notes. Celebrity chefs are back, and will be doing demos onstage throughout the weekend. Notables include Stephanie Izard (Girl & the Goat restaurant in Chicago, Top Chef alumna), Kristin Kish (host of Travel Channel’s 36 Hours and Top Chef alumna), and Seattle’s own Jason Stratton (Mamnoon, mbar, Top Chef alumnus) among others.
Participating restaurants will be competing for your palate as well, and for your vote for the Best Bite Award, so be sure to sample all 70 bites before voting. The weekend is a lot to take in, literally, but that’s the great thing. You can pick and choose your events a la carte, but if you’re planning on attending all four days, “The Connoisseur” VIP festival pass is a smart move. The Connoisseur pass-holders get access to all main events and can select one wine seminar of their choice each weekend day.
Learn more at tastewashington.org.