Every year, the state of Washington celebrates its award-winning wine industry — widely considered to be one of the best in the country — with the annual Taste of Washington Wine Month. March is filled with events every day across the state from Woodinville to Walla Walla, including wine tastings, dinners, and winemaker retreats. The month culminates with the massive Taste of Washington festival, a can’t-miss weekend for anyone interested in food and wine. (And really, who isn’t?) The event brings out more than 225 Washington wineries, all pouring tastes of their best vinos, as well as 65 local restaurants serving Seattle favorites like oysters and crab. Seeing as how we’re not ones to pass up any reason to drink wine, we thought it was only appropriate to honor Washington Wine Month with a roundup of styles produced in the state that you should definitely be drinking. Thanks to higher temperatures and ample sun over the last few years (no, it doesn’t always rain in Washington), the region has churned out some increasingly warmer vintages that are accessible enough for wine newcomers, yet still feel like age-worthy creations to the connoisseurs. While the truly unforgettable sips will cost you a pretty penny, there are also plenty of affordable wines coming out of Washington that are deliciously drinkable — perfect for both everyday and entertaining. So, go ahead and raise a glass to brilliant Bordeauxs and stunning syrahs. Here are seven of our favorite wines to come out of Washington in recent years, each at a different price point.
##$10 and Under
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2015 Riesling -** $9** If anyone can produce a high-quality wine for under $10, it’s Chateau Ste. Michelle, Washington’s oldest and most acclaimed winery. Their 2015 riesling is crisp and easily drinkable, with tart apple aromas and subtle mineral notes. It’s ideal both for white wine lovers and those who typically consider it too sweet.
$10 to $20** Sleight of Hand Cellars 2016 Magician’s Assistant Cabernet Franc Ros****é -** $18 Founded in 2007, Sleight of Hand Cellars has always produced great wine, but they’ve recently hit a new level, able to compete with the creme de la creme of the state. This 100% cabernet franc rosé is delightfully balanced, with intense notes of strawberry and black raspberry, crisp citrus, and a hint of pepper for complexity. Unlike other rosés, the Magician’s Assistant isn’t reserved, making it a lovely choice for red wine drinkers who haven’t yet fallen in love with rosé.
##$20 to $30
Tenet 2014 Pundit Syrah -** $25** Bursting with notes of ripe plum, red cherry, currant, and spice, this second-release from Tenet unites a traditional Rhône style with all the attitude of great Columbia Valley wines. It’s weighty without getting bogged down, gliding into a silky finish with hints of toasted vanilla and slate. There’s a reason Seattle Met called it “far and away the best Washington value on shelves today.”
##$30 to $50
Fielding Hills Estate 2012 Riverbend Vineyard Merlot -** $38** Merlot has had a bad reputation since the 1990s when, thanks to an influx in popularity, greedy winemakers across the globe began churning out high quantities of merlot that were at best mediocre. It wasn’t long before nearly everyone who ordered a glass was less than impressed, leaving them wondering what all the fuss had ever been about. The thing is: When merlot is good, it can be really, really good, as evidenced by this 2013 creation from Fielding Hills Estate. It’s luscious blend of raspberry, chocolate, coffee, spice, and vanilla is pure seduction.
##$50 to $75
Sleight of Hand Cellars 2014 Psychedelic Syrah -** $60** We attempted not to repeat labels on this list, but we couldn’t help but include this downright sexy syrah from Sleight of Hand Cellars. Fermented with 50% whole clusters and aged in only 10% new French oak, it packs flavors of ripe dark fruits, peppery meat, and floral lavender. It’s perfect blend of solid concentration, sweet tannin, and silky finish make it truly irresistible.
##$75 to $100
Woodward Canyon Estate 2013 Red Blend Reserve -** $79** One of Washington’s oldest wineries, Woodward Canyon, also happens to create some of its most age-worthy wines. This blend of equal parts merlot and petit verdot, along with a helping of cabernet franc and a hint of cabernet sauvignon, creates an elegant yet firm wine that’s medium to full-bodied with notes of ripe black fruit, vanilla, creme brulee, and tobacco. It’s rich finish can be enjoyed today or, with proper storage, in up to a decade.
##$100 and Over
Horsepower Vineyards 2013 The Tribe Syrah -** $190** The vines used by Horsepower are planted so densely, they produce fewer grapes than usual yet ones that are unbelievably concentrated in flavor. The 2013 The Tribe Syrah is supple and refined, with an intense, harmonious, and gorgeously complex blend of berries, bacon, black olives, and gunpowder. It’s long, silky finish is the stuff dreams are made of. As Seattle Met put it, “it is, quite simply, the year’s best wine.” Photo credit: Courtesy of Horsepower