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Taste Washington Bigger, Better Than Ever

Insights into the U.S.'s premiere showcase for Washington wines and wineries.

Taste Washington, the nation's premiere showcase for Washington wines and wineries, filled a rather cold and cloudy Seattle weekend with bright lights, fine wines and celebrities from around the country.

Wine Enthusiast Publisher and Editor Adam Strum, the Keynote speaker, entertained an Education Day crowd of winemakers, wine writers, consumers and trade with a look at how far we have come as a wine drinking nation. The Saturday luncheon punctuated a day of seminars on a variety of topics relating to Washington wines and terroir.

From a tasting standpoint, the afternoon "Tasting With The Masters" presentation was the highlight of the day. Among the wines being poured were the just-released (and already sold out) 2004 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon, and the 2004 Leonetti Cellar Walla Walla Reserve. Both proved to be exceptional wines with decades of life ahead.

Sunday's Grand Tasting was restored to the Qwest Field Event Center, a far more suitable venue than last year's cramped quarters. The roomy, well-lighted exhibition hall comfortably held some 200 wineries, many brand new. Spaced between them were roughly 60 restaurant stations serving generous portions of appetizers, entrées and desserts. There were winery association exhibits, games, raffles and live lectures, but as always the wine and food took center stage.

For consumers, the Grand Tasting is the best (in some instances the only) opportunity to meet winemakers from the top boutiques. For trade, it's a chance to see what's new, who's hot, and to gauge where the industry is heading. For winemakers such as Boudreaux Cellars' Rob Newsom, it can be a sign that your star is rising. "When the best winemakers in the state start stopping by to swap wines, you know you've arrived," grinned Newsom.

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