Gusto! Celebrating the Best of Northwest Food, Wine, and Microbrews is an annual fundraising event for the Everett Community College Foundation, to fund scholarships as well as provide program and equipment support.  It was an incredible evening of great Washington beer, wine and food, for only $40 per person.  Given the quality of the fare and the fact that this was a charity event, I was amazed at how low the price was.   Veterans of previous Gusto fundraisers told me that this year’s tickets were less expensive than years past and the low ticket price ensured a packed house. The event sold out within the first hour of opening.

Upon arrival, we were given a Gusto program that includes the name of the participating breweries, wineries and restaurants and caterers.   Bean mentioned it would have been nice to have a “map” of where the wineries, breweries and restaurants were located within the large conference center and I agree but we enjoyed the exploration!  We were also given a wine glass and one of those lovely plates that enable you to rest your wine glass in a niche made for that purpose.  Nice and made it much easier to handle all the tasty goodies available.

The Food

The restaurants participating in this fundraiser for Everett Community College included:

I underestimated both the quantity and quality of the food available at this event,  I had filled up during the day so arrived with little appetite.  But a lot of the dishes were too delectable to ignore. Ivar’s provided the most amazing smoked scallops and  Market Street Catering served the most amazing Jack Daniels Bread Pudding.    There was an amazing array of food stuff to pair but I focused on the wine, and predominately the whites. I wanted to taste all of the white wines but needless to say this was a bit optimistic. Here are some of my highlights of the wine and beer tasting.

The Wine

Furion Cellars

Prior to jumping into my self assigned duty, I headed over to Furion Cellars.  This winery is owned and operated by Micole and Kathleen Miller.  Kathy is a fellow alumni from Mariner High school and a friend of my sister, so I had to go try their wines.  They were pouring their Dark Arts Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.  The syrah was made in American oak so had the characteristic “coconut” notes associated the American oak barrels.  I happened to pair this with an Avenue Catering pumpkin puff pastry…okay… and then a savory onion tart and that was great.   The Cabernet was also nice but tight. According to Micole will need to mature a bit in the cellar. I agree with Micole, I would hold onto this wine for a year or two before serving to loved ones.

O Wines

O Wines served a really nice Yakima Valley Chardonnay that usually retails below $15 dollars a bottle.  This is a 2007 vintage and has 13.8% alcohol.  It has a nice buttery flavor from the oak but is nicely balanced.   “O” stands for opportunity and a portion of all their sales is used to provide women with scholarships. We got the opportunity to speak to one of the two owners, Kathy Johanson, who was exuberant about her work with O Wines.    I was very intrigued by their work and hope to feature them in a future blog post.

Griffin’s Crossing Winery

One of my favorite Sauvignon Blancs of the evening was provided by Griffins Crossing Winery.I spoke with both Max Jensen, and his wife Jennifer, about their wine making.  This Washington Sauvignon Blanc is 13.5 % alcohol and was aged for one year.  I enjoyed its wonderful fruit and floral finish.  While I was there, one of the participants came running over begging for a taste of their Terra Cotta Red Blend that they had produced for a special event.  They were at the end of their last bottle and I kept hearing raves about it so tried another Washington red wine.  It was delicious and I plan on picking Max’s brain about what was in this lovely wine blend.

Samson Estate Winery

My next stop was at Samson Estate Winery LLC.  I have actually tried some of their wines before, specifically their blueberry port and their raspberry wine.  Rob Dhaliwal, the winemaker for Samson, learned his craft from two different winemakers.  One taught him the art of making regular wine, including his lovely off dry Riesling…very much a German style.  Another wine maker taught him the art of making fruit wines and he imparted some interesting information about making blueberry wine.  Specifically, how blueberry wines needs to be made in a port style to retain the fruit. I also look forward to talking more in depth with Rob, a very personable and knowledgable guy.

Tasawik Vineyards

Tasawik Vineyards, from Walla Walla, was pouring a Viognier, my favorite white varietal.  It was delicious and crisp, but instead of being fruit forward it was prepared in a more French fasion.  I did enjoy this Washington state Viognier,but my palate prefers the New World style with more fruit up front.  The also poured probably my favorite wine of the evening, their Rosé of Sangiovese.  This rosé was slightly sweet and just packed with flavor.  Definitely great for summer, but flavorful enough to enjoy year round.  The only information I have regarding this wine is it retails for around $17 dollars a bottle…well worth the price.   I will be looking for more of this Washington state Rosé.

Other wines

The wines featured above are but a small fraction of the wines that I enjoyed. Here is a list of all the WashingtonWineries that poured at Gusto:

A select number of wines were available for purchase at the event, I managed to check out with some Coyote Canyon Creek Viognier, Wilridge Winery Nebiolo,  Griffins Crossing Sauvignon Blanc, O Wine Chardonnay and Lantz Cellars Rattlesnake Hills Syrah. Look for Bean’s upcoming post about the wines that she savored at Gusto.

The Beers

With my focus on Washington White wines this evening, I must admit that I only made it to one brewery.  I have a serious weakness for Belgium style beers. Lazy Boy Brewing was serving their Lazy Boy Belgian.  This monster is 8.7% alcohol and is made with Sterling hops.  This beer won a 2007 North American Beer Awards Gold Medal and I could see why.

We did spend a lot of time talking to Brian Sollenberger, of Diamond Knot Brewery, as the Gusto was wrapping up for the evening. We were so impressed by Brian’s willingness to share information, their 15th Anniversary and solid reputation for IPAs, that we selected Diamond Knot Brewery as our featured brewery of the month.

The breweries pouring at Gusto included: