Man at the epicenter

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The Washington Wine Commission‘s official hashtag is #WAWine, expanded as a catchy slogan to “The New Epicenter of Wine.”

Note those GPS coordinates: 47.6057 North, -122.339 West. Where d’ya suppose that is? Top of Red Mountain? Somewhere in the Yakima Valley? The Rocks at Milton Freewater? The Wahluke Slope? Hah! None of the above.

In fact, it’s a downtown Seattle business address, headquarters of the Wine Commission itself. What? We asked Steve Warner, president of the commission, if this wasn’t, you know, a bit too cute? Not at all. Individual wineries are free to insert their own coordinates. So far, however, no takers. We’ll update if we find out more.

“Collectively, we are on a mission to show the world why Washington is the New Epicenter of Wine,” says Warner. “No matter where you are in the state, we encourage you to sip local and discover why Washington is a world-class wine region.”

My inclination is to consider the entire northwest quadrant of North America as the “new epicenter.” California had a head start, thanks to Fr. Junipero Serra and his peregrinations throughout the Southwest as a missionary; the northwest states (Oregon, Washington, Idaho) and Canada’s southwest (British Columbia) are all part of the Columbia basin and Cascade range, all relatively new to grape growing and wine making, all tied together. The major rivers (Willamette, Columbia, Snake, Okanagan are fairly similar in the sense that they were not colonized (by Europeans) until a couple hundred years ago and certainly not seen historically as wine-grape country. Yet within a short time all these regions have made an impact. The New Epicenter of Wine is a brilliant slogan; I hope the Wine Commission doesn’t limit its use to the Evergreen State!

Note that there’s also a Washington Wine Institute (private sector, lobbying organization for wineries) and a Washington Winegrowers Association (ditto, but for grape growers); can’t tell the players without a program.) But the guy in the picture above is Steve Warner, president of the Wine Commission.