It’s Washington Wine Month and TOAST!, a new event and awards program from the Auction of Washington Wines, recently unveiled its list of peer-reviewed honorees. Recognized in seven categories, winners were lauded for keeping the Washington wine community thriving and focused on its bright future. We had the opportunity to chat with the recipients of the “emerging leaders” category and of course asked them the obvious: What are you drinking this summer to beat the heat? But also, what they see on the horizon as “what’s next” for Washington wine.  

Shae Frichette, Frichette Winery

SIp: What are you drinking this summer? 

SF:  I’m loving Muret-Gaston’s Picpoul. Its bright citrus flavors and acid make it so perfect to enjoy with fresh apricots from my tree on a summer afternoon. Hightower’s 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon caught my attention when I visited recently, so I took some home. I tried Damsel’s rosé at an event and it danced on my palate. 

Sip:  What’s next for Washington Wine? As we move away from being an up-and-coming wine region to an established, world-renowned destination, what varietals, growing methods and marketing opportunities do you predict as opportunities or trends we will see in the next five years? 

SF:  Washington will continue to be in demand by wine enthusiasts, newbies and businesses wanting to expand their Washington wine portfolio. More consumers curious about Washington will make the trip to the state, be delighted and ask for Washington wines in their markets. Tasting rooms will continue the trend of creatively delighting guests and setting a stellar standard for winery service, offering tours and small plate programs. We have an opportunity to educate the world on the varieties to expect and explore while leaving the door open for new varieties we discover we grow and make exceptionally well. 

Sadie Drury, Seven Hills Vineyard

Sip:  What are you drinking this summer? 

SD:  I am loving the 2021 Rosé of Sangiovese from Seven Hills Vineyard this summer. It’s definitely the refreshing wine that pairs best with hot sweaty days in the vineyard. Having grown it myself, it’s the best reminder of why I do what I do. I work with a handful or wineries making this wine and they’re all delicious. You can find a bottle if they’re not sold out at Walla Walla Vintners, Aluve, Patterson Cellars, Girl & Pop and College Cellars.

Sip:  What’s next for Washington Wine? As we move away from being an up-and-coming wine region to an established, world-renowned destination, what varietals, growing methods and marketing opportunities do you predict as opportunities or trends we will see in the next five years?

SD:  I suspect Cabernet Sauvignon will probably always be king in Washington, but I strongly believe the best thing Washington ever did was not hang its hat on one varietal. What’s next for Washington will be a widely-known reputation for growing all things well, especially varietals that need specific conditions and skilled winemakers like Grenache and Mourvedre. When consumers look at a wine menu, they’ll know that Washington will over deliver on quality — regardless of the varietal — because that’s what we do. The marketing opportunity here is that Washington offers something for everyone, from entry-level Rieslings to 100-point Cabernets. The rest of the world will soon learn what many of us already know: you can’t go wrong with Washington wine.

Andrew Januik, Novelty-Hill Januik

Sip:  What are you drinking this summer? 

AJ:  Of course, I always drink a lot of Novelty Hill, Januik and Andrew Januik wines, but I love to drink other Washington state wines as well. I have really been enjoying the Red Mountain Sauvignon Blanc from Fidelitas and the Chenin Blanc from Orr. By no means do I stop drinking red wine in the summer, but I do lean towards slightly lighter varieties and one of my favorite new Washington State red wines is the JM Cellars Mourvèdre from Shaw Ridge Vineyard. 

Also a fan of the local craft brewing scene, my most-visited spot this summer has been Ravenna Brewing, which has delicious beers and great outdoor space to bring my dog to.

Sip:  What’s next for Washington wine? As we move away from being an up-and-coming wine region to an established, world-renowned destination, what varietals, growing methods and marketing opportunities do you predict as opportunities or trends we will see in the next five years?

AJ:  I think we will start seeing more people planting grape vines in parts of the state that have not traditionally been thought of as winemaking regions. Most likely, these will be places that are a little bit cooler than most of the current plantings in the Columbia Valley, which will lead to some more cool-weather varieties and a different overall style of wine.

From a marketing perspective, it is important that all of us continue to push the message of what makes Washington State so unique to the rest of the country and world. Because of the vastness of what we can do here, it can sometimes be a challenge for all of us to be telling the same story about what makes our state special. I think almost everybody in our industry wants more or less the same thing and is pushing in the overall same direction and new initiatives like “Sustainable WA” will help all of us move forward on the same page.

Lacey Lybecker, Cairdeas Winery

Sip:  What are you drinking this summer?

LL:  I always enjoy a glass of our Nellie Mae (Viognier/Roussanne blend), but I’ve also been enjoying bubbles from Karma Vineyards, the rosé cider from Rootwood Cider (they use the must from our estate Syrah grapes to give it a pink hue) and Shae Frichette’s Sashay rosé has made an appearance at several summer get-togethers. 

Sip: What’s next for Washington wine? As we move away from being an up-and-coming wine region to an established, world-renowned destination, what varietals, growing methods and marketing opportunities do you predict as opportunities or trends we will see in the next five years?

LL: I love seeing Washington wine all grown up! A wine reviewer recently said that Washington wine has swagger and I definitely agree. We have a fun and fresh yet sophisticated vibe that is approachable to a diverse audience. It’s so great to see Washington winemakers committing to sustainability (taking care of our people and our planet), experimenting with alternative aging vessels and seeking out rare varietals that keep consumers interested and intrigued. The future of Washington wine is so vibrant!

There are still a few remaining tickets available for the event Thursday, August 11th. For more details click here.