It’s Washington Wine Month once again—second only to Thanksgiving in my pantheon of holidays—and so to start the celebration, I poured myself a nice taste of my favorite local product and sat down to list why I love, love, love Washington wine. Love it.
Here goes, in no particular order:
You’re Fetchingly Humble
Washington is well-regarded in the wine world, but our state is just obscure enough to give you the feeling that you’re discovering an unexpected treasure when you taste our wines. No disrespect to my friends who do a fabulous job marketing Washington wine, but it seems to me that outside of Washington state, many folks still don’t know about our juice. Why is this a good thing for the rest of us? It means the Washington wine industry is still super accessible. When you show up in a tasting room here, the people pouring are genuinely nice (i.e.; not snobby or intimidating) and chances are you might even get to chitty chat with the winemaker. How cool is that?
You’re So Much Fun
In a recent survey of millennials, 78 percent of respondents said they preferred to spend their money on experiences rather than things. I’m no millennial, but I totally agree. I have had some amazing experiences thanks to my pursuit of Washington wine, and you can, too. Here are my top three WA wine memories:
Best. Date. Ever: When Big Red and I were dating, we headed to an evening of wine blending at Covington Cellars. You show up, tour the winery and taste all of the different varietal wines (i.e.; wines made from a single type of grape). From these, you create your own blend. Then you bottle it, design the label and—pleasantly fatigued from your exertions—enjoy a candlelit dinner. Seriously best date ever. So good we got married.
Weekend in Walla Walla: How can you not have a good time in Walla Walla? It’s a charming town filled with colorful folk, more than 140 wineries and a pleasing variety of world class restaurants. It’s equally great for a weekend away with your pals or a romantic getaway with your sweetheart. And while for some of us it’s a disheartening distance to drive from Seattle (five hours), you can fly there on Alaska Airlines. Even better, on the way back you can check a case of wine for free. A freebie from an airline? Cheers to that!
Not exactly silent night : Big Red and I overnighted in a luxury teepee in Zillah, Washington. The good news was that we were in the heart of wine country and visited some amazing wineries. (I’m lookin’ at you Dineen, Two Mountain and Treveri.) The bad news was that teepees, even when seriously luxurious, flap in the wind. It just so happened that our visit coincided with a very windy night, so someone with red hair couldn’t sleep and was super grumpy (needless to say, this was a post-marriage trip). Didn’t stop me from laughing all night long and having a wonderful time!
You’re Just Delicious
Finally, there’s the wine. With more than 900 wineries, 350 growers and 40-plus varietals, there are many options to suit your palate. Those are some impressive numbers, but here’s something even more impressive: over the last six years, Wine Spectator has ranked Washington’s premuim wines higher on average than wines from California, Oregon, France and Italy*. Not too shabby. And then there is the value component. Not only are Washington wines terrific, but they’re also a relative value compared to other key wine growing regions (the average bottle price for premium Washington wine is lower than the average in Oregon, Italy, France, and California**).
What are some of my favorites? As a member of the Developed Tribe I like wines that are flavorful, fruity and big, but easy to drink, meaning not too tannic or overly acidic. (Not sure what tribe you are in? Take our nifty quiz and get customized wine recos based on your palate.) Anywho, I made a trip to our cellar (aka the hall closet) and assembled my dream case of Washington wines, which you can see below. If you’re in the Developed Tribe, I’m confident you will love these as much as I do.
Share the WA Wine Love
Here’s a fun assignment: to celebrate Washington Wine Month, try sampling wines from as many of the 900 wineries as possible. Then create your own dream case. Snap a photo and post below, or just tell me what you like—it doesn’t have to be a full case. I’m always looking for new things to try. Cheers!
* Source: Washington State Wine Commission reviewed Wine Spectator’s percent of 90+ scores from 2009-2014 and found Washington at 47%, Oregon 44%, France 42%, California 32% and Italy at 32%
** Source: Washington State Wine Commission reported that the average premium bottle price for Washington wine, from 2009-2014, is $43 compared to Oregon at $48, Italy at $68, California at $71 and France at $94.