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by Christina Kelly & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & A & lt;/span & t this year's Taste Washington in Spokane, wine lovers from the novice to the expert will feel like kids in a candy store with 105 wineries and 30 restaurants offering samples to satisfy every palate and every price point.


It's a TTE -- Tantalizing Taste Explosion -- set in the intimate atmosphere of the Davenport Hotel. For those who want to taste the best wine confections the industry has to offer without leaving Spokane, it is the ultimate wine tour, representing wineries from nearly every corner of the state.


"Now in its fifth year, Taste Washington Spokane has grown to be one of the largest, most popular wine tasting events in Eastern Washington," says Robin Pollard, executive director of the Washington Wine Commission, sponsor of the event. "Taste Washington provides the public with an opportunity to try new wines, meet winemakers and chefs, and celebrate our state's booming wine industry."


"Booming" is almost an understatement, as wine has surpassed beer as the number one alcoholic beverage in the country last year for the first time. The nation has exploded with wine clubs, wine country tours from Washington, Oregon and California, and tasting events and auctions to raise millions of dollars for charity.


"Washington is in such a unique position to offer ultra-premium and value-oriented wines in so many diverse locations," says Pollard. "Our wine communities are growing to include first-class lodging, fabulous restaurants to pair food with our wines and activities that engage the entire family. Despite our growth, visitors can still meet one-on-one with winemakers, stroll through vineyards and learn about wine from the vine to the glass. It is a distinctive attraction that provides the consumer with the ultimate wine-tasting experience."


In Washington, a record-breaking 400-plus wineries dot the map, from the Columbia River to the Canadian border, and the numbers continue to grow at a rate of nearly two wineries per month. More than 350 grape growers, representing 30,000 vineyard acres, the majority of which are located in Eastern Washington, help fund a nearly $2 billion industry.





& lt;span class= "dropcap " & T & lt;/span & his year, many new wineries will be featured at the Spokane event, including some veterans from previous establishments striking out on their own and a few garageists looking for an appreciative audience after years of homemade wine production. They will be lined up like beauty queens with freshly brushed hair and glitter, hoping to catch the eye of the consumer.


In addition to the 10 Spokane wineries, participants can taste wines from Walla Walla, such as Harlequin Cellars, to China Bend Winery, near the Canadian border in Kettle Falls; from DeLille Cellars in Woodinville to C.R. Sandidge in Chelan; from Cayalla and Nota Bene Cellars in Seattle to San Juan Vineyards in Friday Harbor.


To create the bridge between wine and food, regional restaurants will offer delightful tidbits that enhance the wine tasting experience. There is nothing as exquisite as food enhanced by wine. The perfect morsel followed by the ideal sip of wine can slide down the throat and create a fusion of gastronomical delight.


If you love seafood, the Fresh Seafood Bar, combined with the Washington White Out Bar, matches the best white wines to enhance oysters, shrimp and fish. How many times has a meal diminished because an over-oaked Chardonnay was selected to pair with a more delicate fish? For the price of admission, you can try different pairings and find one to your liking.


New restaurants participating this year include Beverly's Restaurant at the Coeur d'Alene Resort, C.I. Shenanigan's, Cravens Coffee, Okane on the Hill, Raw Sushi and Island Grill, Spencer's, the Barn on Trezzi Farm, Wild Sage American Bistro, Glover Masion and Windows of the Seasons at the Red Lion Hotel at the Park.


Other activities include the silent auction, featuring Washington wine magnums, and the Wheel of Wine, where you can take a break from tasting and spin the wheel for prizes. Proceeds from the auction benefit the Washington State University Viticulture and Enology Program and the School of Hospitality Management. A portion of the proceeds is also earmarked for the Davenport District Arts Board.





Taste Washington Spokane is on Sunday, June 11, from 5-8:30 pm at the Davenport Hotel, 10 S. Post St. Tickets are $75, available at Arbor Crest Wine Cellars, Latah Creek Winery, Peters & amp; Sons, William's Seafood Market and Vino, or online at www.tastewashington.org.

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