Updated February 13, 2020


You’ve been waiting all year to tantalize your taste buds at Taste Washington, the nation’s largest single-region wine and food event, which spans March 19 – 22, 2020. This year, Taste Washington has been reimagined with some new and exciting changes to the overall event, including a new festival lineup featuring evening events throughout the weekend. The changes to the weekend’s programming are an exciting evolution that keep the spirit of the event and everything attendees love about the weekend, while adding elements that move the festival forward.

With the festival around the corner, it’s hard to know whether to first sip that smooth Betz Family Winery Cabernet or crisp and juicy AGO Sparkling wine, or maybe start by slurping down freshly shucked local oysters.

Let’s face it, with more than 200+ wineries and 65 restaurants (including 5 James Beard award-winning chefs) the festival is a Northwest wine and food lover’s wonderland, which can also be a bit overwhelming. To make Taste Washington more bite-sized, we caught up with veteran festival-goer and Visit Seattle Senior Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer, Ali Daniels, to help us craft the perfect crib sheet for seeking out the best bites. Get ready to eat and drink to your heart’s content!

Q: Do you have a recommended “attack plan” for first-time attendees?

A: 1. Create your own festival schedule: Map out your entire festival experience so you don’t miss a minute. The Grand Tasting is the festival’s biggest event, but be sure to add in a fun soiree, such as some of our evening events (the Dinner SeriesPacific Standard, The New Vintage,), or the Sunday Brunch and get schooled in a really fun way at one of our Seminars, too. These events sell out every year, so buy your tickets in advance.

2. Come prepared: Once you’ve booked your events, look at the wineries and restaurants participating at each and make a list of the specific ones you want to visit. There are so many that it can be overwhelming – with a prioritized list, you’ll know where to go first.

3. Don’t forget about the food: While Taste Washington started as a wine event, there’s also tons of delicious food to savor, especially this year with more renowned chefs from Seattle and around the country. Be sure to pair your wine pours with tasty goodies throughout the day.

4. Enjoy responsibly: This is the largest single-region wine and food event in the country, so you can sip and savor to your heart’s content. But in order to taste more wines, do like the professionals do and make good use of the spit and dump buckets.

Savor a seeming;u endless number of tastes from the region’s best wineries and restaurants. Photo: Kristen Marie Photography
Savor a seemingly endless number of tastes from Washington’s best wineries and restaurants. Credit: Kristen Marie Photography

Q: If you can only spend one day at Taste Washington, which day should you go?

A: That’s a tough decision! We give everyone four days to enjoy Taste Washington because there’s just so much wine and food to try in our region. But if you must choose one day, invest in a one-day VIP ticket to the Sunday Grand Tasting.

The Grand Tasting is the culmination of the festival, it gathers the most wineries and restaurants together in one place and features an opportunity for you to soak in the magic and skills of local and national food geniuses. Each chef whips up one of their signature dishes during rotating demonstrations. Crowds tend to be lighter on Sunday and with a VIP ticket, you’ll get an extra hour of tasting so you can make the most of your day.

(Inside Tip: Give your taste buds something to buzz about and swing by Sunday Brunch. Cap off a weekend of phenomenal eats with this delicious brunch in a comfy light-filled space with rustic wood-fired warmth at The Whale Wins. One of Seattle’s most renowned chefs, Renee Erickson, with special guest chef Julia Sullivan, will prepare the best bounty from the beaches, gardens and farms that define the Pacific Northwest with a special guest chef. Get an inside look at Seattle’s brunch culture as you nosh on fresh, local ingredients such as fresh oysters and donuts paired with your favorite cocktails. Cheers!)

Q: Are there new wineries to watch for this year? Conversely, any tried and true makers that can’t be missed?

A: The Walls Vineyard from Walla Walla has some really exciting wines and we are thrilled they will be at the Grand Tasting. Some other standouts are DeLille Cellars, L’Ecole No 41 and Hedges Family Estate. A few newish wineries are to keep an eye on are Adrice Wines and Truth Tellar.

Be sure to grab a glass of the popular sparkling rose during the festival. Photo: Kristen Marie Photography
Be sure to grab a glass of Taste’s popular sparkling rose. Credit: Kristen Marie Photography

Q: Is it true that some winemakers stash special blends to sample at the event? If so, do you have any tips on how to get a taste of these?

A: Yes, that is true. Many wineries will have a special “code word” to sample these under-the-table wines. Monitor the wineries’ social media before the Grand Tasting and they may hint at what they’ll be pouring and how to get a taste.

Q: Any advice on how to taste the wines?

A: The most important part of the event is to just relax and enjoy. This is supposed to be fun! Just because the person next to you is swirling, sniffing, sneering and contemplating doesn’t mean you have to as well. Be open to trying new wines and new wineries, you will start to see a pattern develop around what types of wine you’re attracted to.

Enjoy an array of super-exclusive wine pours. Photo: Kristen Marie Photography
Enjoy an array of exclusive local wine pours. Credit: Kristen Marie Photography

Q: What are the best bites of the festival? Are there new or notable chefs to keep an eye out for?

A: There are so many incredible chefs participating in the festival. Stop by the Pacific Standard held at Elliott Hall at Pier 66, to sample world-class ingredients and chefs with international inspirations and collaborations. Chefs include local superstars and celebrity chefs: Edouardo Jordan, Ethan Stowell, Rachel Yang, Shota Nakajima, Melissa Miranda, Mitch Mayers, David Nichols, Elizabeth Kenyon, Maggie Trujillo, Eric Johnson, Eric Donnelly, Brian Clevenger, Reem Assil and Brandon Jew.

Meet the celebrity chefs and local superstars behind the mouth-watering treats at Saturday’s The New Vintage in the shadow of the Space Needle at Fisher Pavilion. At this event, exclusive wine and cocktail pairings meet the genius flavors inspirations made possible by chefs including Edouardo Jordan, Ethan Stowell, Rachel Yang, Makini Howell, Maximillian Petty, Jay Blackinton, Chris Cosentino, Logan Cox, Tom Douglas, Dezi Bonow, Mutsuko Soma, Gregory Gourdet and Joel Handshuh.

On Saturday, be sure to catch live cooking demonstrations at the Grand Tasting from leading chefs, such as Brian Clevenger, Chris Cosentino, Melissa Miranda and Chris Shepherd.

El Guacho’s delicious oysters have become a perennial favorite. Photo: Kristen Marie Photography

El Guacho’s fresh oysters have become a perennial favorite at Taste Washington. Credit: Kristen Marie Photography

Q: What workshops are must-visits?

A: Washington vs. The World is always a crowd-pleaser. This seminar explores how Washington wines stack up against some of the best wines from around the world like Napa and Bordeaux.

Sample Washington’s Cabernet Sauvignons to see how they stand up against others from around the world. Photo: Kristen Marie Photography
Sample Washington’s Cabernet Sauvignons to see how they stand up against others from around the world. Credit: Kristen Marie Photography

Q: Any other events to be sure to check out?

A: Yes, The Taste Washington Dinner Series are collaborations between top Seattle chefs and some of the most exciting chefs from around America – each hosted at iconic Seattle restaurants and paired with inspiring Washington state wines.

Weekends are always better when there’s Washington wine involved, so be sure to join in for four days of non-stop deliciousness. Say it with us now – eat, sip, repeat!


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Feature Photo: Kristen Marie Photography