By John ~ March 14th, 2008.
“We can compete very favorably in producing top table and varietal wines with any other region in the United States.” –Walter Clore, Father of the Washington Wine Industry, 1969
After traveling over much of the world of wine, I truly believe that Washington State produces great wine and is one of the most exciting wine regions out there. For those of you who are not familiar with Washington State, it is important to note that Washington DC (the nation’s capital) and Washington State are on opposite sides of the country. Washington State is on the west coast of the United States in what is known affectionately as the great Pacific Northwest. From north to south on the west coast are the states of Washington, Oregon, and California.
Pierre Rovani was solely responsible for reviewing the wines of Washington State for Robert Parker’s influential Wine Advocate newsletter for a number of years. He was a keynote speaker at Taste Washington, an annual event put on by the Washington Wine Commission, in 2006. Unfortunately, I was not able to hear him speak, but Paul Gregutt, Wine Adviser for the Seattle Times, recounted some of his speech in one of his articles shortly after the event. According to Gregutt, Rovani told the audience:
“I can tell you that two of the highest scores in the [upcoming] issue go to Washington wines [2002 and 2003 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignons received perfect scores of 100 points]. Across the board, expensive to value, Washington leads the pack. I think Washington’s growers are at the peak of their profession. The vineyards are making incredible fruit. The future is unbelievably bright. We’re not talking potential. You’ve achieved it.”
Rovani went on to speak about the quality of Washington Cabernet Sauvignon, calling it “the best in the world.” He finished by enumerating numerous advantages that Washington enjoys—a perfect climate, great land, and control of water via irrigation.
It was a combination of Washington wine pioneer Wally Updycke’s vision, big money, and a commitment to high quality that allowed Walter Clore’s predictions in 1969 to come true. There are now over 500 wineries in the state of Washington, and Washington is now second only to California in USA wine production. As we’ve stated previously, we started out on our wine journey tasting Washington wines. We liked them then and we still like them now. While many wine critics contend that the best Merlots in the USA come from Washington, and we’d have to agree, our favorite Washington wines today are Cabs and Syrahs.
“The state turns out Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah—and increasingly Cabernet Franc, in a style that has given Washington a distinct identity in the world of wine.” –Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator
We’ll be devoting some future posts to giving you specific recommendations on Washington wines in coming weeks and months.
Also, this year’s Taste Washington is coming up on April 5 and 6 in Seattle. April 5 is education day with a number of seminars led by wine industry professionals at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center, and April 6 is the Grand Tasting at Qwest Field Event Center featuring a host of Washington wineries and restaurants. For more information or to buy tickets, visit the Taste Washington website.
Filed under: American Wine, General Wine Information, Washington State Wine, Wine Activities/Events