Seattle and Taste Washington Provide Guests A Chance to Taste, Explore and Enjoy The City and the Region.
Meet a flying fish and a benevolent pig while marveling at Seattle’s panoramic views. Imbibe with a bottle of wine or two paired with the freshest seafood of the Pacific Northwest, gulp in the fresh sea air on the deck of a floating ferry, hike through a velvety forest and then attend a premier food and wine event. These are just a few things to do while attending Seattle’s most revered food and wine event, Taste Washington.
Writer and film producer Garth Stein attributes feeling “gently rocked in the cradle of life” in this city where sea, land, and abundant resources have merged into a pulsating beckon of beauty, culture, and prodigious productivity. As first-time visitors, we also felt lulled and lured into the bustling abundance of gorgeous natural outliers near this burgeoning metropolis.
We only had four days to investigate this “cradle of life” during Washington’s most ubiquitous food and wine weekend, Taste Washington, lauded as one of USA Today’s 10-Best Wine Festivals of 2019. Featuring over 235 wineries and over 65 of Seattle’s best restaurants and food purveyors, we met our festival agenda while including some of Seattle’s must-do tourist spots. We were in for a culinary crash course and an all-encompassing look at the best in Washington State’s bounty and beauty.
After looking through the Taste lineup, we secured our schedule and packed accordingly for the changeable Seattle weather; comfortable shoes, a handy all-weather coat, and stretchy but fashionable outfits. Fun, educational, and delicious events abound during these few days, including the Red and White party at renowned ocean-side restaurant Aqua by El Gaucho, where 30 premier wineries come together to showcase their wine club selections and 9O plus pointed wines.
The roster lineup was interactive and delicious, beginning with an interactive lunch with winemakers at organic Fall City Farms. Later, an exclusive brunch with the man who put Pacific Northwest on the food map and a night to remember in Seattle’s Sanctuary while rounding out the weekend with the Grand Tasting event. And we could not leave without a look at Seattle with an early morning Savor Seattle food tour of the Public Market.
What is the best way to approach wine and dining around? Grab a good glass of wine but go against the flow of foot traffic. We did just that at our first event, Taste and mingle, the Red and White Part at Aqua by El Gaucho. Often at dine-around, patrons tend to gather at the entrance; we decided to head over to the last table, where we serendipitously discovered Quilceda Creek, producing world-class cabernets since the late 70s. With stellar ratings and raves, including Wine Advocates Best Winery of Washington State 2017, decades of dedicated oenophiles have returned for ongoing vintages year after year.
Our first sip was heavenly on the palate, as the 2015 Quilceda Creek Colombia Valley Cabernet’s lush dark fruit and subtle minerality offered a nice but not overly tannic finish. It proved to be a note-worthy Washington wine initiation. We mingled and quaffed our way around the stunning Aqua by El-Gaucho while the sun lowered into the ocean with a crescendo of pink, silver, and gold. Being at one of Seattle’s best waterfront dining venues while nibbling on savory small bites, cheese selections, and Thai-inspired cuisine was a big splash into our four-day adventure. However, tomorrow would come soon enough, as we would rise relatively early to meet a few friendly critters and a tasty and healthy lunch at The Art of Sourcing Local at Fall City Farms.
You know it’s a good day when you begin with Washington State Sparkling wines and freshly baked scones. We mingled, munched, and shopped inside our meeting place at Seattle’s dedicated outfitter to custom-made outerwear. Filson’s rich history resonated throughout the premise as a premier Alaska clothing and blanket manufacturer. Quality over quantity is a motto that has upheld Filson’s long-lasting legacy, as many wares hold a lifetime guarantee.
We stepped aboard our van to motor along the undulating verdant countryside onto Fall City Farms. Beginning in 1991, this small working farm has helped to engage families with an authentic farm-to-table experience. Their partnership with Fire & Vine Hospitality provides some freshest local produce to Seattle restaurants. Fall City Farms grower Amanda Marino said, “We do everything organically, and I am constantly thinking of how to improve the soil.”
After a thirty-minute ride into the country, we were smack dab into rural farm country with goats and chickens to greet us. Although the ambiance was barn chic, it turned into one of the trip’s most sublime lunch and wine pairings. Several regional winemakers and local chefs banded together to transform their bounty into a lovely tasting menu, all paired with Washington State Wines. We eagerly indulged in a fresh beet salad, organic roasted chicken with root veggies, and delectable homemade ice cream sandwiches. We secretly wished we could bundle up some of Seattle’s farm freshness as a souvenir when harried city life dulls the senses. We left appreciating earth’s bounty in each bite that harmonized with elegantly crafted wines.
On a nearby island, we found seven award-winning wineries, boutique eateries, an organic distillery, and a microbrewery. Eagle Harbor Wine Co is worth a stop where we tasted winemaker Emily Parson’s elegantly crafted Cabernet and Cabernet blended wines. Nearby we met Matt Glenn and learned more about Bainbridge’s first distillery, Highside while enjoying a few sweet delights from nearby TR L’Atelier. Our day’s outing was soon turning into evening twilight as we made our way back to the shimmering lights of Seattle.
Our last day of Taste Washington concluded with Seattle Chef Tom Douglas of Tom Douglas Restaurants, Boston Chef Ana Sortun of Oleana, Sofra Bakery & Café, and co-owner of Sarma. We were ready to catch all the excitement, and great food as these two chefs bantered, boasted, and delighted the brunch crowd with their assorted Middle Eastern-influenced brunch items, live cooking demo, and Q and A session. After a few rounds of samosas and mimosas, we were satiated and entertained but had to dash for a quick reprieve before the Grand Tasting.
After attending many wine events, we were excited to spend some time at the nation’s largest single-region wine event in North America. The Grand Tasting is a food and wine lover’s paradise featuring 235 wineries and 65 of the state’s most noted restaurants. On the Taste, Washington Chef’s Stage and the Albert Lee Culinary Experience noted chefs sliced, diced, and shared their cooking secrets with eager patrons.
Where else could we see multiple James Beard winners, chef Edouardo Jordan, and other impressive culinarians who shared their passion and expertise?
Making the journey around the expansive venue took some navigating. Still, we sipped and savored our experience while discovering the true spirit of this great wine region and area. This area is known as the cradle of life, but after this weekend, we need to find a large hammock to rest for a while and dream of all the lovely places, people, and experiences we shared at Taste Washington.
Elaine & Scott Harris
Vino Las Vegas Wine Club
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