The dog days of summer line up nicely with Washington State Wine Month in August, and the Washington State Wine Commission is using the next few weeks to roll out its new Drink For WA campaign in earnest.
Unveiled a few weeks ago, the pandemic slowed down the Drink For WA movement until now. The advertising campaign is geared up for an estimated 12 million impressions, keyed by partnerships with grocers such as Fred Meyer, PCC and Safeway as well as other retailers.
“This is a statewide rallying cry,” is how the commission, directed by CEO Steve Warner, describes the effort. “It’s a call to Washingtonians to support their state in the easiest (and most delicious) way possible: Raise a glass and make a difference.”
Warner and his team view Drink For WA as a vehicle to promote wineries, farmers, restaurants, the hospitality industry and tourism throughout Washington.
The same year Warner took over is when Washington Wine Month began its transformation. Initiative 1183 — aka the Costco Bill — was approved in 2011 by voters across the state who decided at the ballot box to shut down their state-run liquor stores. Each August, those outlets offered a month-long list of deliciously discounted Washington wines produced by many of the state’s most popular wineries.
Times have changed. The overall quality of Washington wines continues to grow, and more critics and consumers around the world taste that.
This summer, each of the wines listed below — produced by a family-owned Washington winery — received either a double gold medal or best-of-class award at the Cascadia International Wine Competition.
And before you finish that bottle while supporting a local restaurant or a homemade meal courtesy of our farmers, the Washington state wine industry asks that you share an image of the occasion along with tags of #DrinkForWA and #EatForWA.
Eye of the Needle Winery NV The Eye, Columbia Valley, $18: Woodinville vintner Bob Bullock hits the bull’s eye again with his remarkable red that leads with cabernet sauvignon and blends in merlot and petit verdot. The nose and structure reveal its pedigree with high-toned black and blue fruit, inviting spices, a scrape of dark chocolate and a finish of lovely, smooth tannins.
Fortuity Cellars 2017 The Fifty Fifty, Yakima Valley, $28: This young project by Lee and Emily Fergestrom features a 50/50 blend of malbec and cabernet sauvignon, and thanks to their founding winemaker, Johnny Brose, you’ll enjoy a concert of ripe blueberries and blackberries together with plum, cocoa and light toast. It’s backed by an ample backbone of sweet tannins and acidity in balance.
LIV — Lopez Island Vineyards 2018 Elephant Mountain Vineyard Sangiovese, Rattlesnake Hills, $24: Puget Sound grower/winemaker Brent Charnley reached into the Rattlesnake Hills for these grapes. There’s a nose of inviting oak, a dash of spice and strawberry and light cherry. In the mouth, it’s a rewarding sip of succulent cherry and red currant flavors with a bit of lavender in its farewell.
Browne Family Vineyards 2016 Tribute Red Blend, Columbia Valley, $30: Waterbrook winemaker John Freeman crafted this Right Bank Bordeaux-inspired blend into a showy red that features baking spices, dark cherries, blackberries, blueberries and black olive. The structure of smooth tannins is finished with a dollop of huckleberry and a nibble of dark chocolate. Enjoy with a seared sirloin dusted in black pepper.
Burnt Bridge Cellars 2016 Malbec, Columbia Valley, $35: Vancouver USA’s urban winery builds an inviting bridge with this malbec that features a nose of spice, black and blue fruit and a pinch of herbs. In the mouth, there’s more spice and lush blackberry, blueberry and blackcurrant fruit, followed by a finish that carries sweet tannins and a dash of dark chocolate.
Siren Song Wines 2016 La Contessa Francesca, Lake Chelan, $42: Kevin Brown left the world of high tech to create a destination winery along the south shore of Lake Chelan, and he pulls this reserve syrah from his Siren of the Lake Vineyard. Black plum, incense and tobacco lift out of the glass effortlessly. The silky fabric of flavors include dark fruits, fennel and a pleasant bite of semi-sweet chocolate.
Tertulia Cellars 2017 Rivière Galets Vineyard Estate Great SchisM, Walla Walla Valley, $45: The grower/winemaker team of Ryan Driver and Ryan Raber works with three estate vineyards at their Walla Walla Valley winery, and Riviere Galets in Milton-Freewater, Oregon, is among those. Great SchisM is a GSM-style blend of grenache, syrah and mourvedre that offers a rich, round and plush theme of raspberry jam, red currant, vanilla, baking spices and mild oak.
L’Ecole No. 41 2017 Seven Hills Vineyard Estate Perigee Red Wine, Walla Walla Valley, $55: The Clubb family names its premier cabernet sauvignon-led blend after the astronomer’s term for the point at which the moon is nearest our Earth. This is the latest in a line of quintessential and ageworthy Bordeaux blends from the little schoolhouse west of Walla Walla, a toothsome wine with redolent of dark cherry, blackberry, huckleberry, dark chocolate and smooth tannins leading to a lengthy finish.
Eric Degerman operates Great Northwest Wine, an award-winning media company. Learn more about wine at www.greatnorthwestwine.com.