Earlier this year, the Washington Wine Commission released the findings of a study that emphasized just how much of an impact the Washington wine industry has on the state and national economy. Some of the more impressive results:
- The wine industry contributes $8.6 billion annually to the state economy, more than double the $3 billion figure from a similar survey conducted in 2007.
- The effects on the national economy are even more impressive; an increase from $4.7 billion to $14.9 billion annually during the same five-year period.
- The Washington wine industry is responsible for nearly 30,000 jobs in-state and over 70,000 jobs nationwide.
- In the last 10 years, the number of Washington wineries has increased from slightly over 200 to more than 750.
When I get on my soapbox to talk about Washington wines, I usually stress two factors that have improved substantially over the past decade: diversity and quality.
Quality is mandatory, of course, because you simply can't survive in this rapidly growing industry if you only make marginal wines. Diversity is also important to many wine drinkers, and although the state is just beginning to scratch the surface, Washington now produces over 30 varietals.
Last month I moderated a wine dinner class at Bellingham Technical College that celebrated Washington wines and the increased presence they have in the national marketplace. In selecting the wines to serve, I tried to stress the quality and diversity of the state's wines.
Here were some of the highlights:
Vin du Lac 2010 Riesling (about $11): This Chelan winery has produced a refreshing, off-dry gem that's blended with a bit of gewürztraminer and muscat. It's both floral and limey, with a good dash of acidity to balance out the hint of sweetness.
Barnard Griffin 2010 Chardonnay (about $14): Here's a great example of a more reserved, less oaky chardonnay that many people prefer. The wine's gentle notes of white peach and apple are framed with a brighter, leaner finish.
Alexandria Nicole 2009 Quarry Butte (about $25): This cabernet-based blend of five red varietals, including smidges of malbec and petit verdot, is bold and dense with black cherry and espresso flavors and chewy tannins. One sip and you'll be ready to try it with a juicy char-broiled steak.
Kiona Winery 2008 Chenin Blanc Ice Wine (about $25 for 375 mL): One of my all-time favorite dessert wines that never fails to impress, its honeysuckle aromatics lead to gobs of candied apricot flavors and a seemingly endless finish.
DAN RADIL is a wine enthusiast who lives in Bellingham. Reach him at danthewineguy.com.