by Christian Conahan
Oregon’s wine industry has shifted from a mom n’pop, seat-of-the-pants type business to a region of wines internationally admired with…
The heat was inescapable at Thursday’s Auction of Washington Wine picnic and barrel auction. I’m not just talking about the 90+ degree temperatures on the lawn, though those were oppressive. I’m talking about the blinking red light in the cockpit of Northwest wine, warning about an overheating engine. While the gathered winemakers put on a brave face, behind the scenes there was plenty of murmuring about record-breaking temperatures that might just be the new normal.
What makes a wine list good? How about great? It’s a surprisingly difficult question to answer and one that I’ve been discussing with my colleagues a great deal lately. For one, few restaurants are interested in having a massive list of hundreds or thousands of bottles, yet our guests still expect a dynamic experience. As the world of wine continues to grow and expand, with more and more wine being made in the Pacific Northwest, the old rules no longer seem to apply.
There’s a lot to love about going to a wine tasting room: great wines straight from the winery, a cool atmosphere, knowledgeable staffers and maybe even a sommelier. Yet one thing they’re almost always lacking is food that’s a bit more substantial than a collection of cheeses. While a smattering of terrific cheese is nothing to complain about, sometimes you just want a meal designed from start to finish to pair with the wine of your choice.
Sitting in a room with a hundred or so fellow wine experts and Riesling fanatics for the fifth annual Riesling Rendezvous last week, something occurred to me: The Old World/New World distinction we talk about is pretty much worthless at this point. It had some utility in the past, but attempting to make broad stylistic assumptions about a wine based solely on where it comes from seems like a thing of the past.
The time is ripe for the sweetest peaches of the year, and Metropolitan Market is celebrating its 20th year of its Peach-O-Rama promotion. The Seattle-based small group of high-end grocery stores started searching for chin-dribbling peaches in the early 1990s, after finding that most markets stocked hard, dry, unripe peaches. The group succeeded in the quest, and now the stores have both organic and conventional versions of our favorite summer treat.
In a collaborative celebration of the love and the life of Pacific Northwest wines, Sip Northwest joins Cascade Valley Wine Country in a series of pop-up tastings around the Seattle-metro area. Winemakers from this scenic region will host this casual and complimentary events — complete with bites from the featured restaurant — with exclusive sips, conversation and much more unavailable outside of the tasting room.
No one has much sympathy when I tell them that my job can be hard. “Oh, poor guy, having to drink wine for a living,” they might exclaim. By and large, they’re right: I’m pretty happy with it all. That said, the two days of the year I spend as a judge for the Sip Northwest Best of the Northwest Wine awards can be quite challenging. Before you roll your eyes, allow me to explain.
First of all, it’s a lot of wine. Flight after flight, each with upwards of a dozen wines in them.
For the last 29 years the International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC) has been toasting to the best Pinot Noirs the world has to offer and this year’s celebration will be no different. Held from July 29 to 31, the 30th annual IPNC will showcase more than 250 wines from over 70 wineries around the world, 37 of which call the Pacific Northwest home.
This feast for Pinot Noir has three different ticket options: the Full Weekend, the Salmon Bake and the Passport to Pinot.
With 35 wineries and more than 430 acres under vine, Vancouver Island isn’t quite the grape growing paradise of, say, the Okanagan Valley, which boasts quadruple the wineries and 20-times the acreage. But that hasn’t stopped Blue Grouse Estate Winery from making it work. Situated in the island’s Cowichan Valley, the winery specializes in cool climate, estate-grown German varietals like Siegerrebe and Ortega, as well as warmer grape varietals sourced from Okanagan vineyards.