Some things never change, though. The mobs swarming around the hottest producers, who run out early, great food, amazing people watching. I know I should try new vintners, but it's so hard not to return to my favorites. Just checking to make sure they're still spot on.
That would be a big oh hell yeah for Woodward Canyon, DeLille, Pepper Bridge, Chinook, Andrew Will, Betz Family, aMaurice, Buty and Spring Hill. Also really liked Barrister's Sauv Blanc and Cote Bonneville's DuBral Vineyard.
The highlight of this year's event was the spotlight on growers, who were pouring wines made from grapes they had produced. I spoke with Dick Bouschey last week about all the changes he has seen since he first planted in the lower Yakima Valley in 1980. How about everything?
He sells to more than 25 winemakers, most very involved in the vineyards. A whole lot of new varietals have gone in over the past few years. Bouschey has added white Rhone grapes including Picpoul and Grenache blanc. Can't wait to see where those go.
On the food front, I was loving the roast suckling pig from Dahlia Lounge, the sliders from Crush and ate a bunch of oysters from Elliott's. Was very impressed tasting through the lineup of Claudio Corallo chocolates. There's a fascinating story behind those exquisite, estate-grown chocolates.
Beyond the food and wine, there was a whole lot going on: cooking demos, Riedel stemware showcase, raffles and Stumptown coffee and a jazz combo. An epic event to be sure. I just wish they could come up with a better way to get people in the door more efficiently, so when the crowd rushes in, it doesn't feel like such a frenzy.