February 2011

Washington State Senate Approves Small Wine and Beer Samples at Farmers Markets

Today in a 41 to 4 vote, the Washington state legislature authorized samples of wine and beer to be distributed at ten farmers markets. The samples are limited to 2 ounces per sample for legally-aged adults with I.D., and a maximum of 4 ounces per person. The brewers and vintners must either be next to a food seller, or be providing food. This decision follows the earlier decision in 2003 to allow Washington-made wine to be sold at farmers markets. This limited test at ten markets is a pilot program, running from July 1, 2011 to September 30, 2012. You can read more about it here.

The ability to offer potential customers samples has enormous potential for Washington wineries (and brewers) because they can coordinate their wines for sale in terms of seasonal pairings and collaboration with the local food vendors (many of which include local restaurants) and local farmers and butchers, and cheese makers at the markets. A wine producer can ask the visitor what they're planning for dinner, or about the special meal they're purchasing ingredients for, and offer them a sample of the ideal wine. Given the number of market vendors who operate small stores, it means smaller wineries can introduce their wines to retailers who might not be familiar with them, given the way large distributors dominate the Washington market and control shelf space.

Deschutes Red Chair North West Pale Ale

Winter Ale Perfect for NW Spring and Summer

I've written about Oregon's Deschutes brews before, most notably their winter seasonal Jubelale, and their magnificant Black Butte Porter. We picked up a sixer of Deschutes Red Chair for a steal of a price intrigued by the "North West Pale Ale" descriptor. This is a fairly new introduction, first appearing in May of 2009 in 22 ounce bottles, and part of Deschutes Bond Street line of experiments with hops, named after their Bond Street pub in downtown Bend, Oregon. It's only available from January to April, so this is the perfect time to pick some up.

Primroses: Harbingers of Northwest Spring

primroses, hybrid primrose, Primula vulgaris, spring flowers, Primula x polyantha

We've had fairly solid rain all day, beginning last night, with high wind and storm warnings. It's a glorious Northwest spring day. And it's put me in mind of primroses, as I look out at the rain lashing against our windows, and the tulip bulbs in our safely-inside-the-windows window boxes.