The 18th annual Taste Washington event was held at Century Link Event Center during the weekend of March 26-28, and it drew its highest overall attendance over the course of 4 days. Featuring an impressive line up of 225 wineries, 70 restaurants and 60 culinary exhibitors, it is the the nation’s largest single-region wine and food event. As the numbers indicate, Taste of Washington is first and foremost a wine event put on by Visit Seattle and the Washington State Wine Commission. Indeed while a somewhat recent arrival from a global perspective, with its over 700 wineries, Washington’s wine industry is established and its reputation as a wine growing region is well known. With its similar to Mediterranean climate on the East side of the cascades, it’s a fertile land for growing grapes, the wine-making industry is thriving and so is the tourism around it.
Taste Washington 2015 By the Numbers
- 6,307 Overall attendance
- 4,991 Grand Tasting attendance
- 234 Wineries at Grand Tasting
- 800 Wines poured
- 200,000 Number of pours
The food at Taste Washington featured all the representatives of the local favorites and the latest trends along with some rarities. Just to name a few, our standout favorites were:
- rabbit terrine with fennel
- foie gras
- german style cured meats from Leavenworth
- more types of cheese than wise to consume including one with coconut
- top grade ahi served skewered on a straw full of lemon juice
- clam chowder and oysters (due to popularity had to be rationed)
- pannacotta with sweet peas and cod
- marinated octopus
- buckwheat blini filled with ricotta served with pickled rhubarb and pea shoots
The displays by the vendors were also artistic and attractive. The VIP room was fully decorated to feel like a rustic winery with barrels lining the back and a large table abundantly covered with bread, cheese, and flowers to go with the wine being served. There were also live demonstrations on stage including one of how to skillfully prepare morels which the audience got to enjoy as well. Ice-cream was being made live with liquid nitrogen by Sub Zero Ice Cream and Yogurt, which was quite the spectacle due to rapid evaporation caused steam. There were crafts and artists present too like the custom wine bottle and accessory maker Fresh Northwest Design.
The Rising Popularity of Cider
All this accurately reflects the abundance of Washington’s food and wine, however, there was one category featured which may be the most uniquely Washingtonian - the cider. While it may seem that cider is a recent trend, it is in fact, a very historical beverage that has been enjoyed for nearly 250 years. Even some of our Founding Fathers like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were cider drinkers! If you haven't already noticed, we are BIG fans of cider here at Gemini Connect, as indicated by our frequent visits to Capitol Cider, and we were delighted to see the relative abundance of cider at Taste Washington.
This year, there were over 20 top quality cider makers present, representing a growing and thriving cider industry in the Pacific Northwest. In addition to the traditional orchard growing areas of Wenatchee and Yakima, it turns out that cider producing apple grow very well in Western Washington’s cooler marine climate which resembles that of Northwestern France, Germany and England - historically the areas where cider has been popular.
Favorite Ciders at This Year's Event
- Alpenfire Calypso
- Aspall English Dry (England)
- Dragon’s Head Pippin
- Finnriver Dry-Hopped
- Sarasola Sidra (Basque Region of Spain)
- Seattle Cider Co. Dry
- Snowdrift Seckel Perry
- Tieton Frost
- Whitewood South Sounder
The Northwest Cider Association is the biggest of cider association, and it features producers from Oregon, Montana and British Columbia. They estimate that local cider production has gone from 250 gallons a year to as much as 45,000 gallons annually. That is a staggering 17,900 percent increase in the past few years. For the US as a whole in 2014 cider was a nearly $1.32 billion industry, up 46 percent from the previous year. As as the undisputed leader - 70% - of the USA’s $225 billion apple industry, Washington state is positioned perfectly to lead the booming new cider industry too. Many of these cideries are outfitted with showrooms and an increasing number of accommodations for the sake of tourism. This is very good news for the state’s agriculture and economy. Overall, Taste Washington was a success that showcased our state’s amazing offerings and make us appreciate living here.