Monday, January 18, 2010

Seattle's Urban Wineries Part 4: The Tasting Room

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In the heart of Seattle's tourist haven, Pike Place Market's Post Alley, lies The Wines of Washington Tasting Room (a second Tasting Room can be found in Yakima at the Wilridge Wine vineyards). For a long time The Tasting Room was one of the only ways someone without the time or access to Washington's wine country could sample the wares from the eastern side of the state. Since this is part 4, we know there are at least three other ways, and quite honestly there are several more, I'll get to those later.

The Tasting Room is a wine cooperative founded by Paul Beveridge of Wilridge Wines and Robert Goodfriend at Harlequin Cellars. There are seven wineries that participate, all of which are winemaker-owned facilities that make 3,000 cases or fewer annually. The wineries are located throughout Washington, from Walla Walla to Yakima to Seattle's Madrona neighborhood and the Olympic Pennisula, and include Latitude 46 North, Wilridge, Harlequin, Camraderie, Wineglass Cellars, Mountain Dome and Naches Heights Vineyards. In many cases the wineries don't have a tasting room of their own, and participation in the cooperative allows them to get additional exposure without having to manage a tasting room operation. Perhaps the greatest asset The Tasting Room offers is its variety; with a wine list that easily has 50 different selections that you can buy by the taste, glass, or bottle. The Tasting Room also offers anywhere from 10 to 14 different tasting flight options from which to choose, which allows you to really tailor your visit to what you want to experience.

With its large wooden tables and the feel of a European wine cellar, The Tasting Room has been designed to be a gathering place. If you buy a bottle there, there is no corkage fee, which makes it a perfect place to share a bottle of wine over board games. We opted for a game of Jenga, the Clifton Cuvee ($18) from Latitude 46 North, a Rhone style blend that is mostly Grenache, and a cheese plate that included cheese from Beecher's (located in Pike Place Market).

The beauty of The Tasting Room lies in the simplicity: a welcoming atmosphere that brings multiple small lot producers together. The wide variety of board games help break the ice and bring a joviality to wine that isn't always present. In addition to the wine and tasting flights, The Tasting Room also often has Meet the Winemaker events. If you're looking for a quick way to sample a variety of what Washington State has to offer, look no further.

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