Celebrate Taste Washington Wine Month During the Coronavirus Scare

This week I’ve been getting all kinds of messages related to the current COVID-19 situation. Some ask my thoughts on wine events being held in spite of the panic-inducing situation. Others request help in rallying support for our local wineries. Then  the colossal bomb dropped yesterday. Taste Washington, Seattle’s biggest wine and food festival due to take place March 19-22, 2020 in Seattle, has been canceled. WHOA! Don’t panic, there are still ways to celebrate Taste Washington Wine Month.

Over the years, my personal preference has been to attend the Taste Washington seminars. While it is unfortunate that the event has been canceled for 2020, the consensus on social media leans toward the “better safe than sorry” anthem. The hedonistic wine and food festival is intended to be hosted again in 2021.

Support Washington Wine

Although Taste Washington is not taking place in 2020, there are still other opportunities to experience Washington wine and support the community. This is particularly critical at a time like this. Given that many Washington wineries are small, locally owned operations they can suffer greatly when there is a dip in customer activity. After all, they just barely got over dry January (don’t even get me started about that). So, please do whatever you can within your comfort zone to show these businesses some support during this challenging time. If you were going to Taste Washington, take that money you planned  to spend anyway on some Washington wine or an alternative event. While I am not a health professional, I can say from experience that conscientious winemakers keep a very clean environment.

While doing some online checking it’s apparent that the status of some events on websites such as haven’t yet been updated. This is no fault of these sites; however, it serves as a reminder to check directly with organizers regarding the status of any event. Luckily, sources have confirmed some events going ahead as of this writing.

10th Annual Cabernet Classic

Saturday, March 7, 2020
Tickets $50

The quality level of wineries pouring at this showcase for Cabernet Sauvignon is staggering! Among the featured wineries are Den Hoed, Figgins Family Estate, Passing Time Winery, and Sheridan Vineyard. These purveyors of high quality juice don’t have tasting rooms regularly open to the public, so this is a rare chance to have such an upscale lineup of wine to taste!

Avennia Spring Release

While writing this, VinoSocial client Avennia cancelled their release party at the winery this Saturday, March 7. Nevertheless, the latest vintages of the highly acclaimed Sestina and Valery wines are still being released. Member allocations are available for pickup at the winery. Additionally, the tasting room in Woodinville’s “Gateway District” will be open regular hours this weekend. Their welcoming staff will be happy to assist, and pour, the latest wines for members and non-members alike. This is the place for those who appreciate world class wine.

Avennia Tasting Room
19255 Woodinville Snohomish Rd #1,
Woodinville, WA 98072
Open daily 11:00am-5:00pm, Fridays until 7:00pm

Devison Vintners Winemaker Dinner at Barking Frog

Thursday March 19, 2020
$150 per person + tax and gratuity
Call 425-424-2999 for reservations
Having worked with talented winemaker, Peter Devison, I am full of anticipation over the new releases he and his wife Kelsey are launching under their Devison Vintners brand! Taste them for yourself paired perfectly with a delectable five course dinner created by Chef Bobby Moore. This has got to be the most indulgent way to celebrate Taste Washington Wine Month!

Celebrate Taste Washington Wine Month at Home

If you don’t feel like braving the crowds, follow my suggestion on Instagram to help raise awareness of this great region and its award winning wines:  simply uncork a bottle of wine from Washington State sometime this month, and post about it using the #WaWineMonth hashtag!! With over 1,000 wineries there are a lot of first-rate selections from which to choose.

Meanwhile, the majority of the population is raiding the supply of toilet paper and I’m at local wine shop Esquin thinking what we really need to buy is more wine (p.s. they’re offering 10% off Washington Syrah in-store on Saturday, March 7, 2020). Make good choices, my friends, and be careful out there!

Exciting Walla Walla Wines

This week the annual Walla Walla Wine in Seattle event took place on Monday. Following a record number of days in which Seattleites endured non-stop rain, the clouds parted enabling the sun to dance off the glass in the grand lobby of Seattle’s McCaw Hall. Organized by the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance, over 40 wineries showed up and poured their latest releases for Seattle. Once again they proved there are exciting Walla Walla wines and wineries for consumers to experience.

Exciting – and Fizzy – Walla Walla Wine

Continue reading “Exciting Walla Walla Wines”

Become a Better Wine Drinker at Taste Washington Seminars

Taste Washington, the state’s premier wine and food festival, has grown leaps and bounds over the years. However, one thing remains the same – the Taste Washington Seminars are my favorite part of the 4 day Washington wine extravaganza. Maybe it’s because it’s one of the seated events where I can take my time tasting. Undoubtedly, it has something to do with the quality of both the speakers and the wine poured at each seminar. Not to mention, what I’ve learned at the Taste Washington Seminars has made me appreciate wine more. That in turn has made me a better wine drinker. The seminars can do the same for you!

Taste Washington Seminar

At a past seminar, Wine Bible author Karen MacNeil waxed poetic about Washington wine, vividly describing each pour as only she can. As the audience sipped on Syrah from cult producer Cayuse she uttered,

“This wine is primal scream. Wonderfully corrupt.”


Continue reading “Become a Better Wine Drinker at Taste Washington Seminars”

Let’s Talk About Maysara Winery and Momtazi Vineyard

Take a drive out to the picturesque McMinnville Foothills in Oregon’s Willamette Valley and explore a winery built on the American dream and Biodynamic soil. Turn into Momtazi Estate, and the road ultimately leads to the impressive Maysara Winery. I had the pleasure of visiting this family owned and operated winery this summer as a guest while attending the 2019 Wine Writers Educational Tours. Our revelatory introduction to the 532 acre estate was led by owner Moe Momtazi.

Maysara Winery cellar door (L) and tasting room entrance (R)

Maysara Winery’s Momtazi Vinyeard

After touring Momtazi Vineyard with Moe, I will never gaze at a grapevine the same way. There is something very spiritual about how he perceives and cares for the vines. Continue reading “Let’s Talk About Maysara Winery and Momtazi Vineyard”

Sip the Season with Washington State Wine

Here in Washington State, the wine world is growing. In fact, we recently passed the 1,000 winery mark! To help spread the word about our world class wine region, the Washington State Wine Commission has invited select wine lovers to take part in a campaign to Sip the Season, and I am very excited to participate. As such, I am introducing friends and family to some wine samples during the holidays. I feel it would be remiss, however, if these wines and stories aren’t also shared here on the VinoSocial blog.

Sip the Season WA Wine

Seven Hills Winery

Walla Walla Valley Merlot
SRP $25

This Merlot is elegant and succulent. While it’s easy to get distracted by all the shiny new wineries starting up, Seven Hills serves as a great reminder not to lose sight of the original brands that paved the way. Be sure to stop in at the pioneering winery’s tasting room  on a visit to Walla Walla. Housed in the charming historic Whitehouse Crawford building, it’s a sentimental favorite of mine. This was one of the very first tasting rooms I visited in Walla Walla years ago.

While cooking my way through recipes from Food & Wine Magazine, a Nigel Slater recipe for Pasta with Sausage, Mustard, and Basil caught my attention. It calls for a “full-bodied, plummy Washington Merlot” to pair with the flavorful preparation. Pasta is the epitome of comfort food and the delectable Seven Hills Merlot is the perfect complement to this dish. Note to self:  keep more of this food friendly variety on hand!

Murray Wines

Cabernet Sauvignon
SRP $25
This lively red wine from the folks behind Hightower Cellars was perfect for a weeknight pasta meal (Andrea Robinson’s book, Everyday Dining with Wine has a great recipe for Linguine with Walnuts, Arugula, and Olives). It bears repeating that the Hightower Cellars Merlot wowed me earlier this year. Plus, with prices ranging from $20 to $55, the wines crafted by Hightower Cellars exemplify fantastic quality for the price. These folks are definitely on our radar to visit next time we head to Red Mountain, one of Washington’s smallest and most prestigious wine growing regions.

Vital Wines

2017 French Creek Chardonnay
SRP $28
Ashley Trout, founder and winemaker of Vital Wines, has both a winemaking style and an ethos that resonate with me. Her Vital Wines project is a non-profit winery whose profits go entirely toward health care for those in the wine industry. Buy this mouthwatering wine knowing that it tastes good and does good.

Sip the Season Walla Walla Wine

Ashley is also the force behind Brook & Bull, and I was overjoyed to recently attend a popup in Seattle featuring that Walla Walla winery’s latest releases. The wines are so popular that there weren’t any available for me to purchase and take home that day! If you appreciate wines of balance that aren’t overpowered by oak such as an elegant Cabernet Franc, and a smooth Malbec, give these wines a try.

Matthews Winery

2016 Claret
45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc, 32% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, 1% Malbec

This tempting wine is waiting patiently to be uncorked at a holiday party next week, and I am eager with anticipation! Meanwhile, here’s a cool thing to note about Matthews Winery – a visit to their tasting room is at their serene farm in rural Woodinville. Their summer dinners should be on the radar of those who are fans of farm to table fare.

Basel Cellars

2015 Claret
SRP $25
30% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, 17% Malbec, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, 97% neutral barrels

Basel Cellars is based in Walla Walla, about a 5 hour drive from Seattle, and a wine lover’s dream region featuring fine wine and delectable food. However, laws have changed in Washington State enabling wineries to have multiple tasting rooms – and Basel Cellars has three! Find them not only in Walla Walla, but also Woodinville, and Leavenworth. Meanwhile, this enticing bottle of Claret is getting shared with friends coming over for a holiday dinner featuring beef skewers and Romesco sauce.

Vin du Lac

2017 Viognier
SRP $24.95
This wine made its way to Thanksgiving dinner in order to be served with turkey. Although the in-laws are not typically wine drinkers, they thoroughly enjoyed this thirst quenching white. When visiting the Lake Chelan area, stop at the winery’s lovely grounds for a meal at their bistro.

If the wine gracing your table this time of year is from Washington State, be sure to share it on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #siptheseaon. It will help you connect with other wine lovers exploring our region’s great wines!


Basel Cellars
Matthews Winery
Murray Wines/Hightower Cellars
Seven Hills Winery
Vin du Lac Winery
Vital Wines