In celebration of Washington Wine Month, the Washington Wine Commission and Visit Seattle host Taste Washington, the nation’s largest single-region wine and food event featuring more than 235 wineries, 65 restaurants, and 60 culinary exhibitors. Events span several days beginning with the swanky Red & White party at AQUA by El Gaucho on March 22, followed by farm tours and a new vintage tasting event on March 23, with two days of wine and food indulgence opportunities at the Grand Tasting on March 24 and 25 at CenturyLink Field Event Center. Relish the comfort of lodging in Bellevue, just a brief Uber or Lyft ride away from the main events.
Where to Enjoy Washington Wines in Bellevue
Bellevue may be best known for its cocktail culture, but there are plenty of spots to enjoy a glass or bottle of Washington wine. Seastar Restaurant & Raw Bar has maintained a great reputation for its wine list thanks to company wine director and Advanced Sommelier Erik Liedholm. A recent renovation put the wine cellar front and center – a glass-fronted environmentally controlled room displaying the restaurant’s impressive collection of wines from Washington and around the globe. During March, Seastar will feature wines from three of the state’s most prominent winemakers: Mark McNeilly of Mark Ryan Winery including the 2013 and 2014 John Howie Cuvee’s, his collaboration with John Howie Restaurants from top vineyards in Walla Walla; Chris Figgins of Leonetti Cellars, one of Washington’s first and best wineries with several vintages of the Reserve, Cabernet/Merlot, and Sangiovese wines on offer; and Jeff Lindsay-Thorsen of W.T. Vintners whose Chenin Blanc grape pomace was the source of Liedholm’s Arande Grappa at Bothell-based Wildwood Spirits.
Wine bottles are arranged floor to double-high ceiling in the semi-circular central bar at Purple Café and Wine Bar. Purple will feature Washington wine throughout the month of March in bottle, glass, and flight forms. The wine bar will also be giving away a pair of tickets to Taste Washington’s Grand Tasting on Sunday, March 25.
Based near Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum, Washington, Swiftwater Cellars recently opened a restaurant and bar on Main Street in quaint “Old Bellevue.” The wine list features glass, bottle, and carafe pours of its signature wines from the Columbia Valley. At Cypress Lounge & Wine Bar located at the lobby level of The Westin Bellevue, the focus has always been on premium Washington wines available by the glass, bottle, and flight. The creatively curated wine list highlights the state’s range of varietals. During March, Cypress will be discounting bottles of Washington wines by 10% and offering tastings with local winemakers once a week.
Wander Up to Woodinville Wine Country
Just 13 miles northeast of downtown Bellevue, Woodinville has the highest density of wine tasting rooms in the world. Between the Hollywood and Warehouse Districts, there are nearly 120 locations to taste the state’s wines from the original and grandest experience at Chateau Ste. Michelle to truly boutique operations at places like Adams Bench and Kevin White Wineries. Stop in at the Woodinville Visitor Center during March as they explore the state’s AVA’s featuring a weekend pop-up tasting from 11 am-3 pm on March 17.
New this spring, Certified Sommelier and wine educator Shelly Fitzgerald is hosting an evening series called Woodinville Wine Diva starting March 8 with “A Sense of Place” diving into Red Mountain characteristics, followed by “The Blinds” on April 5 where guests learn to recognize the smell and taste of specific varietals. The final session on May 3 is all about “Food and Wine Pairing” featuring bites by Chef Bre of newly opened Heritage Restaurant and Bar.