August, being Washington Wine Month, gives us a special excuse to clink our glasses to local wine. To be honest, we’d happily sip Washington wine all year long. Drinking local wine in August is nothing short of sublime. For starters, there is plenty of sunshine, it is still prime grilling season and there’s all that gorgeous summer produce to cook easy wine-friendly meals with. We’re looking at you, fresh sun-ripened tomatoes ready to be simmered into a light pasta sauce, and juicy corn on the cob, waiting to be thrown on the grill.
It’s also pre-harvest; the perfect time for winemakers to reflect and relax. With a year full of hard work under their belts and harvest coming soon, August is the time when the wine community truly kicks back and enjoys the fruits of their labor. To put it simply and succinctly — it is time to appreciate. It is the month to appreciate the wine, each other and Washington state, in all its glory and plentiful bounty.
We asked five Washington winemakers about their favorite Washington Wine Month traditions. Read on to get inspired.
Fiona Mak, Owner-Winemaker
Smak Wines | Walla Walla
I look forward to August the most as it is Washington Wine Month but also rosé month! We at SMAK wines love hosting parties for our wine community and industry members. The party theme for each year is different and this year’s party will be “Rosé & Poké.” Rosé with its naturally high acid helps balance the fatty fish. It’s like a generous squeeze of fresh lemon on fish. I also love to cook and share my recipes on our website so everyone can enjoy our rosé year round.
Devyani Isabel Gupta, Winemaker
Valdemar Estates Winery | Walla Walla
August is when we, as winemakers, are thinking deeply about what we want from this harvest, chewing on what could be our best ideas yet, formulating our best laid plans and, yes, this does mean drawing inspiration from Washington bottles hiding in my cellar. However, my focus in August is my family and friends, especially given that they will not see me very much in September or October. Those close to me know I absolutely love to cook, garden and host. So my favorite “wine pairing” during Washington Wine Month is [that] I dig out vintages from the cellar that reflect what the upcoming one may be like, throw some sausages and vegetables from my garden on the grill, dust off some chairs, light the fire-pit and connect with those close to me.
Jason Gorski, Director of Winemaking and Viticulture
DeLille Cellars | Woodinville
Celebrating the wines of Washington during August is an amazing opportunity for us to not only showcase great wine but also to support our community. The Auction of Washington Wines, which DeLille Cellars has supported since the winery’s inception, has many events throughout the month, promoting Washington wine while raising money to benefit Seattle Children’s Hospital and WSU Viticulture and Enology programs. It has also become a tradition for my family and I to take a road trip to eastern Washington, where we stay with close friends, enjoying the last of the summer heat before harvest arrives, waking up among the vines, walking the rows, swimming in the pool and, of course, enjoying outdoor dining with lots of friends, food — and wine! My go-to food and wine pairing for summer dining al fresco has to be prosciutto and cantaloupe with a refreshing glass of rosé.
Sarah Goedhart, Winemaker
Hedges Family Estate | Benton City
Being so close to harvest, Washington Wine Month always gets me excited for the upcoming vintage. To celebrate, we like to taste through past vintages of Hedges and definitely enjoy them with food. We like to reflect on the past harvests, take in the stories that the wines tell from that year and make note of which vintages really shine. It’s fun to compare what’s happening in the current season to years past. We just tasted through 18 older wines this past week going back as far as the 2000 vintage. The favorite was our 2003 estate Merlot, which was a perfect pairing with pizza from our favorite local spot, Brickhouse Pizza in West Richland!
Jeremy Baker, Managing Partner
Forgeron Cellars | Walla Walla & Woodinville
For me, every month is wine month! The Washington Wine Commission chose well to have this month spotlight Washington wine, as the month of August really does epitomize all things wine. August brings us at Forgeron Cellars both our last bottling of 2022 and preparations for the first fruit to arrive on the crush pad, Gamache Vineyard Chardonnay for our sparkling wine program. Forgeron Cellars also hosts many exciting wine club and tasting room events during Washington Wine Month including an educational winemaker-led barrel tasting in Woodinville. And perhaps most importantly, we spend a lot of time in the vineyards, which is always my (and my dog Winston’s) favorite place to be. It is in August that we get a firm sense of what to expect from our vineyards during harvest and we begin to anticipate and get excited about crafting wines that will exemplify the year’s vintage. August is when the magic of winemaking begins at Forgeron Cellars in Walla Walla.