August is one of two (yes, two!) Washington Wine Months, and we're in a mood to celebrate! Did you know that Washington state is the second largest premium wine producer in the United States? There are more than 1,000 wineries, 400 grape growers and 20 distinct American Viticultural Areas including Yakima Valley, Walla Walla Valley and Lake Chelan. The good news is, you don’t have to make a trip to wine country to taste what everyone’s talking about. There are a number of dining options in the Seattle Southside featuring local wines. Here are just a few local spots to try Washington wines, including both restaurants and tasting rooms. Be sure to check each restaurant’s web site for seasonal updates on special winemaker dinners, tastings and events!
Top Shelf Seattle Southside Locations for Local Washington Wines
- Copperleaf Restaurant
- Contrivance Wine & Mead
- Humble Vine
- Spencer's for Steaks and Chops
- Bacovino Winery
More on Washington Wine
Copperleaf Restaurant is known for its seasonally-inspired Northwest cuisine, thoughtfully prepared with the bounty of Washington's lands in mind. And of course, what celebration of the produce of Washington would be complete without plenty of Washington wine? Because their entire menu changes with the seasons, the wines on offering will shift and change as well. The staff here are highly knowledgeable about the best pairing for every dish, so don't be afraid to ask.
If you're in the mood to just sip a glass of wine rather than commit to a full meal, the bar at Copperleaf is also available, and has plenty of other libations for any non-wine drinkers in your party.
Take a sip with a view at the Quarterdeck at Des Moines Marina, a small but intimate setup with wine, beer, and coffee. They also regularly have food trucks and pop-ups for food offerings as well. The real star of the show here, though (aside from the wine)? The killer view of Vashon and Maury Islands, the waters of the Puget Sound, and the most breathtaking sunset views around. Regular concerts and music help to set the mood, and it's a great place to stop after a trip to the Des Moines Farmers Market.
Not all wine comes from grapes! Contrivance is primarily known as a meadery, crafting delicious wine from local honey. However, they also make some amazing traditional grape wines, including recent limited runs like a syrah aged in bourbon barrels. Not sure what kind of wine or mead you might like? Tasting flights are only $10, which can be applied towards the cost of a bottle to take home! Their tasting room is located near Westfield Southcenter Mall, so you can make a day of shopping, unwinding, and sipping your way to a relaxed state of mind.
Humble Vine is a boutique style wine shop with a tavern and tasting space, and what it may lack in square footage in more than makes up for in the variety of wine available and the knowledge of the staff. Bottles are selected for their taste, uniqueness, and story, and the folks who work here will happily share the story of each bottle with you. Plus they have some lovely patio seating for enjoying your purchases.
A big, bold red and a big, juicy steak is a classic combination. Because Washington is so well-known for its red wine varieties, especially Cabernet Sauvignon, it makes sense that a steak restaurant would be the go-to place to try Washington Wines. This steakhouse has become one of the most popular in Seattle Southside and has won numerous awards for its extensive wine collection. The service is excellent and can help you find the perfect pairing for your entrée choice.
Bacovino Winery not only has fantastic wines, they also highlight local art and have a space where local musicians regularly perform. Plus, they host paint & sip events, so you can get artsy yourself while you enjoy their delicious reds and whites. And you can feel good about drinking this wine, too - the winery has made a commitment to sustainable practices and believes that a healthy planet means healthy, delicious grapes. Their tasting flights are reasonably priced, but if you become a club member you can get tasting flights for free!
If you want to plan a wine-based trip, coming in March may be your best bet. That's when the Poverty Bay Wine Festival takes place in Des Moines, WA each year, an event that really highlights our state's fantastic viticulture! Every March and August, the state of Washington celebrates its wine culture, and the Poverty Bay Wine Festival is the ideal way to celebrate the spring rendition of Washington Wine Month. The festival has been going for more than 15 years, and a portion of the proceeds for each year's festival goes back into the community to support local charity. So not only will you get a chance to try lots of local wines, you can feel good about doing so!
Not sure how to pair Washington wine with food? We asked David Bechtel, a local wine connoisseur and veteran of the beverage industry, for some quick recommendations for those new to pairing wine:
Back to basics. You may already be familiar with matching your wine to the color of your meat - red wines for red meat, white wines for white meat, for example. This is a good guideline, but don't be afraid to play around a bit according to your tastes. David says, "Sometimes a soft, gentle red can be just what you need for a rich, hearty chicken dish. And sometimes an especially bold, spicy white can stand up to a protein like a porkchop, which you'd normally pair with a red. Don't feel like you're breaking a rule just by going outside these guidelines a little."
Find neighbors. The vocabulary word of the day? Terroir (pronounced "ter-war"), a French word which refers to a wholistic look at the environment that wine grapes are grown in, including weather, soil, and more. If you are eating local produce or proteins, try finding a wine that is produced in the same area that your produce comes from. The produce and your wine will have the same terroir, and so will have some similar flavor qualities.
Bigger isn't always better. A larger price tag doesn't always mean a better wine or a better fit for your meal. David points out that, "Finding the right wine for the occasion is far more important than finding the 'best' wine - best is subjective, and pairing is everything with wine."
Don't be afraid of sweet stuff! Many beginners may think that sweet wines are only for dessert, but they're a great counterbalance to savory and spicy dishes, too. "If you're having, for example, a spicy curry, a sweet white wine will cut through that perfectly and be a great counterpoint to your dish."
Never be afraid to ask for guidance. The number one faux pas by those new to wine, according to David? Being scared to ask for help finding the right match. "The person helping you at a bottle shop or restaurant you visit should be trained in their selection, and if they aren't, there's almost certainly someone on their staff that is," David says. Even the experts know that someone with daily knowledge with the wine they serve is going to have more applicable knowledge to their specific products, so don't worry about looking foolish. It's perfectly normal, even expected when a sommelier is available, to ask staff for their suggestions.
Q: What wine is Washington state known for?
A: Out of 70 wine varietals, five make up over 80% of this region's production: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Riesling, Merlot, and Syrah.
Q: Where is the best wine region in Washington State?
A: 99% of the grapes grown in Washington state for wine are from the Columbia Valley east of the Cascade mountain range.
Q: What are the wine regions in Washington state?
A: Washington state has 20 different AVAs (American Viticultural Area). 95% of all the vineyard acreage is found in Horse Heaven Hills, Lake Chelan, Naches Heights, Rattlesnake Hills, Red Mountain, Snipes Mountain, Wahluke Slope, Walla Walla Valley, and Yakima Valley.
Q: How many Washington wineries are there?
A: There are over 1,000 wineries, 400+ grape growers, and 60,000+ acres of wine grapes, which makes Washington State is the 2nd largest wine producing state in the United States of America.