Vancouver, Seattle beckon with stellar wine festivals

FOR THE BELLINGHAM HERALDFebruary 18, 2014 

This is the time of year I like to mention a couple of regional wine festivals that readers frequently ask about and I'm happy to recommend as standout events.

Each of these close-to-home wine tastings gives you an opportunity to meet and chat with scores of winemakers and distributors while getting a great cross-sample of wines from Washington and around the world.

First up is the Vancouver International Wine Festival, a weeklong celebration from Feb. 24 to March 2 in Vancouver, B.C., that features a variety of seminars, lunches, dinners and tastings.

While some of the events have been on sale for several weeks and are already sold out, my favorite, the International Festival Tasting - which runs from 7 to 10 p.m. Feb. 27 and 28 and from 3 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 10 p.m. March 1 - still has tickets available.

Although some people may view this as borderline wine-tasting overload, I tend to enjoy the fun, yet informative atmosphere and the diverse, chatty crowds that are always on hand and never disappoint.

An amazing 178 wineries from 14 countries have been selected to participate at the international tasting, with France as the theme country and the global focus on Champagne and sparkling wines. Book a hotel room, take in as much as you can, and enjoy some great wines in one of the world's most beautiful cities.

For complete event information and tickets, go to playhousewinefest.com.

Not to be outdone, Washington wines take center stage during Taste Washington, set for March 29 and 30 at CenturyLink Field Event Center in Seattle. More than 200 Washington wineries are scheduled to be on hand at the gastronomic extravaganza.

I love this event, not only for the wines but also for the incredible food samples available from dozens of Seattle-area restaurants.

If you go with the expectation of having a nosh or two, pairing it with stellar Washington wines and meeting with some of the region's top winemakers, then I'll give you the closest thing to a personal guarantee that you will not come away disappointed.

General admission tickets get you in the door from 2 to 5 p.m. and can be purchased for a single day for $80 or both days for $125. VIP tickets, at $145 for one day or $185 for both, allow you a 1 p.m. start time and include exclusive tasting-lounge access and a swag bag.

There are also a number of interesting seminars available both days from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. that include topics ranging from Washington old vine wines to blending to the art of pairing food and wine.

For a complete list of wineries, vineyards, restaurants and exhibitors, along with ticket information, go to tastewashington.org.

Dan Radil is a wine enthusiast who lives in Bellingham. Reach him at danthewineguy.com.

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