“Food & Wine Magazine” regards it as one of “America’s 50 Most Amazing Wine Experiences.”
The two-day open house draws wine aficionados from all around Washington, as well as from neighboring states and even Canada.
In 2012, Passport attracted approximately 1,800 guests, and organizers predict a similar turnout this year.
Sponsored by Woodinville Wine Country and its partners, Passport offers wine lovers the opportunity to experience the area’s booming wine scene.
Nearly 40 different wineries participate in the event, opening their doors to attendees to showcase their wines.
Visitors, armed with special Passport wineglasses, are invited to tour as many of the participating establishments as they desire over the course of a weekend.
“Every winery has something special going on — be it a new release, an older vintage or a barrel sample,” says Jamie Peha, public relations spokesperson for the event. “Typically, the winemakers are around as well so you can meet them. Some wineries offer entertainment, some offer food and many are offering great incentives to purchase wine. It’s a great time to stock up the wine cellar. I also think it’s fun to be out and about and see others going from winery to winery. It creates its own excitement.”
For the wineries, it’s a great marketing opportunity, notes Peha, as it provides a chance to make people more aware of their name brand and expose them to the quality of their wines.
“Woodinville benefits from the marketing and advertising of the event as well,” she adds. “It puts Woodinville on the map as a tourist or visitor destination — there is a reason to come here. And then once guests are in town, they are also stopping to eat, get coffee and see what else goes on in Woodinville.”
Peha emphasizes that this area now has almost 100 wineries and tasting rooms, offering a wide array of tasting opportunities, from established wineries like Chateau Ste. Michelle and Columbia, to early boutique wineries such as Facelli and DeLille.
Then there’s the growing warehouse district where visitors can park their cars and find dozens of wineries and tasting rooms within easy walking distance.
“And we also now have several Eastern Washington wineries that have opened satellite tasting rooms here, such as Dusted Valley and J. Bookwalter,” she comments. “Woodinville Wine Country is really a microcosm of the whole state’s wine industry, featuring wineries from Walla Walla, Red Mountain, Yakima and more.”
A new exclusive event has been added this year in advance of Passport, which will especially appeal to wine aficionados seeking to taste a top tier selection of Woodinville wines.
Woodinville RESERVE will showcase 90+ rated wines and small production bottlings too limited for review.
“The idea for RESERVE came about after a few years of members talking about all the fantastic 90+ scores that Woodinville wineries receive and the sheer quality of wine in this community,” explains Peha. “This is a way to showcase the quality and really allow the public an opportunity to try these highly rated wines in one location.”
She adds, “The wines that will be poured are available to purchase through the individual wineries. Many of the wines are great finds and are in limited production. You won’t find this much great wine in one place very often so it’s a rare occurrence. Plus, you will get to meet the winemakers in many cases.”
Guest chefs from some of Woodinville’s well-known eateries will be on-hand at the event to serve up delicious bites.
Participating restaurants include Italianissimo, Barking Frog, Purple Café and Wine Bar, Station Pizzeria, Twisted Café, Le Petit Terroir and Pasta Nova.
Tickets to Woodinville RESERVE also include admission to both days of Passport.
“We’d love to see a full house for RESERVE,” comments Peha. “We want guests to be blown away by the quality of what they are able to taste at this event.”
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.woodinvillewinecountry.com.
PASSPORT TO WOODINVILLE
What: Passport to Woodinville
When: Saturday, April 20 – Sunday, April 21, noon – 4 p.m.
Where: Over 40 participating Woodinville wineries
Cost: $75 for two-day pass; $65 Sunday-only pass
What: Woodinville RESERVE, a new evening tasting event showcasing top-rated wines and small production bottlings too limited for review, along with guest chefs from well-known Woodinville eateries.
When: Friday, April 12, 7-9:30 p.m.
Where: Columbia Winery in Woodinville
Cost: $75 for RESERVE only; $125 includes admission to RESERVE and a two-day ticket to Passport