Karen MacNeil Virtual Wine Tasting Series

Worlds are colliding! Innovation in the wine industry is taking shape in the form of virtual wine tasting. This enables consumers to learn about wineries all over the globe. In some cases it provides the opportunity to taste wines. It also gives wine lovers access to a number of industry experts from winemakers to renowned authors. Now, Seattle based non-profit Auction of Washington Wines (AWW) is bringing all of these components together in a brand-new Virtual Tasting Series.

Hosted by AWW Honorary Chair, Karen MacNeil, the fascinating series features a who’s who of Washington winemakers.  Explore the world of their wines through 7 virtual experiences held between June 18 and August 20. Hosted by MacNeil on the Zoom platform, wine lovers may register to attend these events online at no cost! Bonus – those who wish to taste along in any or all of the sessions may pre-purchase wines at retailer partner Esquin Wine & Spirits.

The lineup of wines and wine industry greats is phenomenal! To give you a taste, the series premieres with L’Ecole No 41’s Marty Clubb, Long Shadows Vintners’ Allen Shoup and Woodward Canyon Winery’s Rick Small. Topics range from Washington Women in Wine to Red Mountain and Bordeaux Style Wine. Let the good times flow.

“The current stay-at-home world has provided a unique and exciting window of opportunity for this series to come to fruition,” said AWW Executive Director Jamie Peha. “Karen MacNeil is an incredible host—and this series will introduce and connect wine lovers to the state’s industry.”

Why Tasting with Karen MacNeil Rocks My World

As soon as I heard that Karen MacNeil was hosting this virtual wine tasting series, I signed up! She is, after all, one of America’s foremost experts on wine. In fact, her best-selling book “The Wine Bible” was among the resources I devoured while attending Northwest Wine Academy. When Karen visited Seattle a few years ago I admittedly had a total fan-girl moment and asked her to sign my copy of the tome.

She was in town to address a full house at Taste Washington seminar, Up Close with Karen MacNeil: What Makes Great Washington Wine Great? Known for her vivid and approachable wine descriptors, Karen aptly described the Cailloux Vineyard Syrah from cult wine producer Cayuse as “primal scream.” Of the Two Vintners Some Days Are Stones Syrah sourced from Walla Walla based Stoney Vine Vineyard she proclaimed:

“The great wines of the world aren’t just fruity. They have some line of corruption. Fruity is pretty, but not sophisticated. The theory of corruption can be tasted on this wine. It’s hard to put publishable words to it.”

With lines like that, the experience held my interest throughout the session. If you missed tasting Washington wine with Karen then, don’t pass up this opportunity. Remember, some key winemakers in Washington State are also taking part. Read below for a summary of each session.

For those interested in getting the wines to accompany any or all of the digital events, they’re available from VinoSocial client, Esquin Wine and Spirits based in SODO. If you’re in the Seattle area, the locally owned business recently reopened for in-store shopping. Additionally, curbside pickup, delivery, and shipping options are available. Just be sure to get that order placed soon. After all, temperatures are heating up across the country and may impact shipments.

Virtual Wine Tasting Events

All times in Pacific Time.

Washington Wine Trailblazers

Thursday, June 18 at 5:30 p.m.

L’Ecole No 41’s Marty Clubb
Long Shadows Vintners’ Allen Shoup
Woodward Canyon Winery’s Rick Small

Learn how all have been instrumental since the early days of the Washington wine industry boom and have impacted its foray onto the national and international scene.

From Generation to Generation

Thursday, July 2 at 4:00 p.m.
Bookwalter Wines’ John Bookwalter and Caleb Foster
Mercer Family Estates’ Rob Mercer
Januik Winery’s Andrew Januik

This discussion will revolve around family winemaking and how these extraordinary individuals have elevated the wineries they inherited to the next level.

Washington Women in Wine

Thursday, July 16 at 4:00 p.m.
Warr-King Wines’ Lisa Packer
Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Leah Adint
Wautoma Spring’s Jessica Munnell

Discover how these leaders have created their own “seats at the table” in the still male-dominated wine industry.

Red Mountain and Bordeaux Style Wine

Thursday, July 30 at 4:00 p.m.
Fidélitas Wine’s Charlie Hoppes
Sparkman Cellars’ Chris Sparkman
Col Solare’s Darel Allwine

This virtual tasting will explore Washington’s smallest and most coveted AVA – Red Mountain.

World-Class Washington State Merlot

Thursday, August 6 at 4:00 p.m.
North Star Winery’s David Merfeld
Pepper Bridge Winery’s Jean-François Pellet
Hightower Cellars’ Kelly Hightower

This installment will dive into the high-quality, award-winning Merlot produced in Washington.

Is Cab King in Washington?

Thursday, August 13 at 4:00 p.m.
Betz Family Winery’s Steve Griessel and Louis Skinner
Canvasback’s Brian Rudin
DeLille Cellars’ Jason Gorski

The discussion will center on Cabernet’s iconic role in the Washington wine landscape.

One-of-a-Kind Approaches to Washington Wine

Thursday, August 20 at 4:00 p.m.
Sean Hails of Columbia Winery
Kevin Correll of Barrage Cellars
Shane Collins of Rocky Pond Estate Winery

This conversation will highlight some of Washington’s most diverse and innovative wineries.


Register for Auction of Washington Wines Virtual Tastings
Pre-purchase wines for the tastings
Auction of Washington Wines Site
Sign up for Karen MacNeil’s digital e-letter WineSpeed

About the Auction of Washington Wines (AWW)

Since its inception in 1988, AWW has raised more than $50 million, benefiting Seattle Children’s Hospital and Washington State University Wine Science Center. AWW was listed in the top five U.S. Charity Auctions in the nation by Wine Spectator. Events hosted by AWW give wine lovers the chance to support Washington State’s wine industry and families and communities across the state. Presented by Seattle Bank, all of the organization’s events are virtual for 2020.