Ξ August 14th, 2008 | → 0 Comments | ∇ A Day at a Time, Book Reviews, Winemakers, Wineries |
Steve Roberts, the author of Wine Trails of Washington, is a very busy man. Not only has he visited more than 200 wineries in a year in the course of doing research for this book, not only does he maintain a well-designed, complementary website, Wine Trails NW, but he is currently on the road in Oregon where, having begun this June, he intends to visit its 208 wineries by November!
In an effort to help keep this heroic gentleman in gas money (he says he put 30,000 miles on his car seeking out wineries) and tasting fees I bought his book and so should the reader. Washington is a daunting challenge to the wine lover. With over 500 bonded wineries, making it the nation’s second-largest producer of premium wines, how is he/she to begin? Well, let somebody else blaze the trail. This, Mr. Roberts has done. As he writes,
“…I wrote this book so you won’t make the same mistakes I did. …I was forever getting lost…. About half the wineries charge a small tasting fee  and I often forgot to bring cash. In my search for ATMs in such places as Quincy, Lyle, and Kettle Falls, I accrued enough information to write a guidebook on the ATMs of Washington…. Sometimes I would go to an area and wander from one winery to another, only to discover later there was a logical circuit to follow….
Further, not all 500 bonded wineries could be included without the book becoming a door-stop so his method was to select “only  those wineries that have tasting rooms open to the public with regular tasting room hours”. So, for example, one will not find listed the celebrated Quilceda Creek Vineyards (by appointment only), or the wonderful upstart Pomum Cellars (too low a case production). Mr. Roberts’ website linked above is far more comprehensive in this respect.
But this criteria gets at the utilitarian, democratic character of the book. In fact, Mr. Roberts writes,
“I’ve chosen purposefully to avoid any ratings of wine. This book is about wine touring and the experience associated with getting out there and swirling. More often than not, I discovered that a visit to a tasting room housed in a double-wide trailer is just as fun and memorable as a visit to a tasting room located in a chateau.”
Thirty-two wine trails are clearly laid out. Depending on distance between wineries (and personal decorum) a given tour may take from one to three days. Woodenville’s Wine Trail North includes 13 wineries with a recommended leisurely pace of 3 days by car and on foot; the Red Mountain Wine Trail, with 11 wineries, Mr. Roberts suggests two days by car. Southwest Washington Wine Country, by contrast, has 5 tasting room destinations with a two day touring adventure encouraged. Of course, places to stay and restaurants are amply listed. As are a regions festivals.
Winery profiles are well-written with candid pics taken by the author. Indeed, one of the books charms is the non-professional quality of the photos. They are like the ones I might take! Another “Everyman” feature that gives the book its special character.
All in all, Wine Trails of Washington is a very fine effort, especially when used along with Mr. Roberts’ website. Superb resources, nearly-comprehensive. I say ‘nearly’ because I would like to see Pomum Cellars, linked above, added to Mr. Roberts’ website data base! A small quibble…