This Memorial Weekend, the Southwest Washington wine region is hosting their annual Spring Wine Release and introducing a "Summer Passport Challenge." Sponsored by the Southwest Washington Winery Association, come support Clark County wineries May 27-29 from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Area wine lovers are encouraged to experience Washington State’s newest wine region over Memorial Day Weekend and throughout the summer. The Southwest Washington wine region is home to nearly two-dozen family-owned, boutique wineries and vineyards within an hour of Portland, Oregon.
To encourage exploration of the region’s wineries, the Association is promoting a “Summer Passport Challenge,” where wine-lovers collect stamps at all 10 participating wineries over the summer. Everyone who completes the challenge will win a prize and be entered in a drawing to be held after the Food and Wine pairing event hosted by the Association over Labor Day Weekend. Free passports are available at participating wineries and swwawine.com. Each winery charges nominal tasting fees.
For Memorial Day, wineries will be open all weekend from 12 p.m. - 6 p.m. Some will feature local artists or food pairings. All produce fewer than 1,000 cases per year, which means winemakers are frequently pouring their own wines. Many of the tasting rooms are located onsite with mature and developing vineyards.
Wines from the 2016 harvest will be released, including locally grown Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris, as well as Albarino, Cayuga, Gruner Veltliner, Viognier, Marechal Foch, Rosé of Grenache and Mourvedre.
Many of these wines recently placed well at the wine competition sponsored by the Craft Beer & Winefest. Eighteen of the 36 medals awarded went to Southwest Washington Wineries, with four being considered for Best of Show. The festival will take place in Vancouver’s Esther Short Park June 9-11. Many of the area’s wineries will be serving and selling wine at the festival.
Nestled between the North Bank of the Columbia River and the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, the climate and soil of Southwest Washington are similar to Burgundy in France. The region excels at growing traditional European grapes such as Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, as well as lesser-known varietals like Golubok, Marechal-Foch and Zweigelt-Rebe. Supplemented with grapes sourced from warmer climates nearby (predominantly Eastern Washington) area wineries are able to produce wines for nearly every palate.