One of the greatest advantages to being a member of the Institute of Masters of Wine is the opportunity to visit the great wine regions of the world with fellow MW’s. This May I was honored to be invited to participate in a 5-day wine tour of Washington State. Altogether 42 MWs from around the world flew to Seattle to learn about and sample the great wines of Washington.
Our trip was hosted by Washington State Wines, and I would have to say that this was one of the most well organized wine tours in which I have ever participated. Every last detail was coordinated by President, Steve Warner and VP, Chris Stone of Washington State Wines, along with their amazing team and advice from Bob Betz, MW. The hotels, meals, and transportation were all excellent, and we felt very welcomed and cossetted.
Upon check-in we were given a book that listed each of the 340 wines we would taste during the 5-day trip. The fact that this book was prepared in advance with the participation of more than 100 wineries is testament to the extraordinary amount of preparation and planning that went into this wine tour.
By the time we finished the tour, every MW – including wine buyers, journalists, educators, and winemakers – was very impressed with not only the wines of Washington, but also the incredible hospitality of every Washingtonian we met.
Following is the schedule for our 5-day wine tour of Washington:
Day One – Seattle
- Arrive in Seattle
- Check into Willows Lodge Resort and relax
- Walk to Columbia Winery to attend walk around tasting of Washington wines and Heavy Appetizer Dinner
- Overnight at Willows Lodge Resort
Day Two – Seattle to Horse Heaven Hills AVA
- Walk to Chateau St. Michelle for lecture on history of Washington wine and master class on Washington Rieslings
- Lunch at Januik/Novelty Hill Winery with walk-around tasting of Woodinville wineries
- Drive to Suncadia Resort to check into hotel for short rest
- Afternoon lecture on geology of Washington vineyards and Washington AVA tasting
- Dinner at Swiftwater Cellars with walk-around tasting of Horse Heaven Hills AVA
- Overnight at Suncadia Resort
Day 3 – Suncadia to Yakima/Red Mountain AVA
- Drive to Red Willow Vineyard to visit the oldest syrah vineyard in the state – planted with Guigal cuttings; Syrah tasting in the vineyard
- Drive to Precept Canyon River Ranch for lunch and tasting of Yakima wines
- Drive to Walter Clore Wine Center for master class on Washington Syrah, followed by tasting of unusual varietals
- Check into Richland Courtyard Marriott for quick rest
- Drive to Quilceda Creek Winery for vertical tasting of Quilceda Creek at Ciel du Cheval Vineyard
- Dinner at Col Solare Winery for walk-around tasting of Red Mountain AVA wines and dinner with famous Washington Chef, Tom Douglas
- Overnight at Richard Courtyard Marriott
Day 4 – Yakima to Walla Walla
- Drive to Kiona Winery for master class on Washington Cabernet Sauvignon
- Lunch at Kiona Winery – a unique lunch on the sunny terrace featuring a taco truck and champagne.
- Drive to Washington State University for lecture on viticulture research and walk-around tasting of Rhone varietals
- Check into Marcus Whitman Hotel for short rest
- Dinner at Whitehouse Crawford Restaurants at Seven Hills Winery, including walk around tasting of Walla Walla wines
- Overnight at Marcus Whitman Hotel
Day 5 – Walla Walla
- Visit Walla Walla Community College for a lecture/tasting on impact of tannins on wine phenolics
- Drive to Leonetti Cellars for master class on Washington Merlot and lunch with winemakers
- Drive to Ferguson Vineyards to view unique geology and taste L’Ecole wines.
- Visit Cayuse Winery for vineyard tour and retrospective tasting of Cayuse wines with French winemaker Christophe Baron
- Dinner at Dusted Valley Vintners with walk-around tasting of Walla Walla wines
- Return to Marcus Whitman Hotel for overnight stay
Video on Washington Wines
So based on the above schedule, it was a jam-packed trip with non-stop tastings, vineyard/winery visits, lunches, and dinners. Despite this, we still had time to get together in the late evenings for a nightcap. A very exciting, educational, and memorable trip that allowed everyone to recognize the magnificence of Washington wines. Here is a great video to provide an insight into Washington Wines (click here).
The next day, we boarded a bus to Oregon to spend three whirlwind days tasting the wines of Oregon. This trip included driving from Walla Walla, down the Columbia Gorge to Portland, and then onto the Willamette Valley. See later posts for highlights of this trip.