"Washington State's wine scene is now a $3 billion industry. With over 700 wineries, Washington wine is plentiful, diverse and award-winning: 469 Washington wines reviewed in Wine Advocate this year scored 90 points or higher, Columbia Crest's 2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon was named Wine of the Year by Wine Spectator in 2009, and Walla Walla's K Vinters was Food & Wine's 2009 American Winery of the Year.
Local restaurants without a local-food priority have taken to Washington wine--nearly half of Icon Grill's wine list is devoted to Washington, Canlis estimates its novel-like list as being around 25 percent Northwest, and the Metropolitan Grill devotes whole sections to Washington's chardonnays, merlots, cabernet sauvignons and blends in addition to other Washington wines. Yet Washington wines fail to permeate many Seattle-area restaurants that adhere to the farm-to-table doctrine when it comes to food. Emmer & Rye and Tilth, for example, only dedicate about half their wine lists to Washington, and Sitka and Spruce only offers a few non-European wines.
'If you're going to be farm to table, then do it,' says Roman LaRose, who built Urbane's original wine list a couple of years ago. 'Why do 50 percent here in Washington, [when] we have almost every single varietal available to us?' Urbane carries over two-thirds Washington wine, and rounds out the rest of its list with Oregon offerings.
'When you visit anywhere,' says Charles Smith, winemaker at K Vinters, 'you want to drink what they have there. Usually the food and the wine go right together.'
An excerpt from "Pour Standard," this week's food feature on Washington wines and their place in the farm-to-table debate.
Yes, folks, I'm giving up my review space this week to Sarah Anne Lloyd, who takes a look at the Washington state wine industry, its growth and popularity thanks to the "eat local" leanings of so many Jet City gastronauts, and how local bottles made from local grapes have come to take a place of honor on the wine lists of some of the best and most ambitious restaurants in the city.
It's an interesting look inside the tasting rooms and wine bibles of restaurants in the area. So for all of you out there who complain that I don't write enough (or at all) about the wine programs at the various restaurants I review, this is your week--it's all wine, all the time, with no distractions. You're welcome in advance.
But never fear, foodies. I'll be back next week with another review, more bad language, stories about myself and all the pointless digressions that you love, just like normal. Until then, enjoy the respite, polish that tasting cup, and drink up.