Washington Wine Month is in March, and it happens to be in August, as well. It can be a little confusing to the consumer. Both March and August have major wine events: In March, it is Taste Washington; in August, it’s the Auction for Washington Wine. March’s wine month is more restaurant- and event-driven, while August is more retail-driven.
August has a longer tenure for wine month — 28 years now, according to the Washington State Liquor Control Board website. It was set up as mainly a month when the state-run liquor stores would do wine specials from Washington state to help promote the wine from here.
When the Auction for Washington Wine began 25 years ago, it became a natural marketing tool, having wine month the same month as the auction.
In 1998, with the beginning of Taste Washington every year at the end of March, there was a new focus to have marketing to promote the Taste and Washington state — that is why March became wine month.
According to Ryan Pennington, the communications director at the Washington State Wine Commission, the commission is a state-run agency set up 25 years ago to promote Washington wine. Pennington said that there is going to be an effort to shift the Washington Wine Month to March.
With the demise of the state-run liquor stores this year, I can understand why August as a wine month won’t be as effective.
But as a wine director and a big fan of Washington wine, I consider every month Washington Wine Month. At this point, why not have two months devoted to promoting the amazing wines from our state? There are now pushing 800 wineries in the state, a little overwhelming to try to keep up.
Two great events
All that aside, let’s talk about what is going on this month to promote Washington wines. There are many restaurants, wine shops, wineries and tasting rooms having special promotions, including wine dinners, discounts on Washington wines, special tastings, etc.
For the first time, this year, the Wine Commission has set up a page on its website (www.washingtonwine.org/winemonth) listing promotional events in March, and it is extensive. Every day of the month, there is something going on.
Taste Washington (tastewashington.org) is one of the largest consumer wine events in the country. The Taste takes place at Century Link Field Event Center, and this year, it has been expanded to two days: March 31 and April 1.
Taste Washington has more than 200 wineries pouring their wine, along with 60 local restaurants offering tastes of their menu offerings.
Taste also has seminars for those who want to learn more in-depth about Washington wine. Some of this year’s seminars include wine-and-food pairing and highlights from celebrated vintages.
There are also 15 hotels in the area that are offering special rates during Taste — that is my idea of a great weekend getaway.
I love the fact that there are events and months set up just to promote the wines here: It makes it easier for the average consumer to experience the wines.
JEFFREY DORGAN, the Washington Wine Commission’s 2009 Sommelier of the Year, is the wine director at Sullivan’s in Downtown Seattle. He previously worked at Willow’s Lodge/Barking Frog in Woodinville and at the Space Needle. He also co-owned Smash Wine Bar & Bistro in Wallingford and is a Capitol Hill resident.