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uncorked photoHONOR THY BEVERAGE
By Jim Scribner

Wine is a social drink evoking personal experiences. It's meant to be enjoyed among friends and discussed with enthusiasm. The culture is collegial—filled with knowledgeable makers, drinkers and the curious.

In this regard, summer celebrations are a way for vine aficionados to gather and pay respect to the countless hours, days, years that go into making a bottle of truly exquisite wine.

With the more than 750 wineries in Washington state, there's no excuse to pass on the opportunity to partake in the fun of a festival. Here are three events to uncork this summer.

Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine
When: June 20-22,
where: Walla Walla, Washington

More than 70 Walla Walla winemakers come together for this event, which also hosts winemakers from Napa Valley as well as wine critics.

This year's event celebrates The World of Cabernet Sauvignon, allowing visitors to compare the styles of Napa Valley and Walla Walla. There will, of course, be plenty of tastings—rare vintage wines included—and special winemaker dinners, tickets to which sell out fast.

Guests from Napa include Jeff Ames, TOR and Rudius Wineries winemaker; Phillip Corallo-Titus, Chappellet winemaker; and Landon Donley, Spottswoode Estate Winery assistant winemaker.

Local flavor-makers include Jean Francois Pellet, Pepper Bridge Winery winemaker; Chris Figgins, Figgins Family Wine Estates director of winemaking; and Rick Small, Woodward Canyon director of operations/owner. more info:

Kirkland Uncorked
When: July 19-21
where: Marina Park, Kirkland, Washington

This annual favorite is set on Kirkland's beautiful waterfront, complete with live music, a tasting garden, art and bites.

Indulge in one-ounce pours from nearly 24 different wineries, and once you find the one that hits your tongue just right, you can take it home.

To add to the fun, there will be a grill-off on Saturday, and plenty of food from local restaurants to soak up the wine pours. Between a boat show and a dog modeling contest, it's a festival for the masses—connoisseurs, novices and families.

A ticket will get you 10 tasting tokens, with most pours between one and two tokens. Don't fret, though, as more can be purchased. more info:

Picnic & Barrel Auction
When: August 15 at 4 p.m.
where: Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery
Woodinville, Washington

The summer culminates in the annual auction, held at Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery. It's like your elementary school field day, redesigned for adults only.

Throughout a course of games are more than 100 winemakers, and a team of chefs from Tulalip Resort Casino. So while you try and toss the ring around the wine bottle, you can taste and mingle with the countless winemakers lingering in the crowd.

But it's all about the barrel. At the barrel auction, you can sample the not-yet-bottled wines, and when you find one you can't live without, place a bid on a case. The top five highest bids for each winery take home a medal and are the first to get the wine when it's released—a prize better than a silly trophy. more info:

The festival provides the opportunity to honor the makers who live by the light and the climate; the ones who are always on standby to nurture their vineyard with the greatest care. Tip your glass in thanks.


Jim Scribner is the Manager of Polaris.

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