Check It Out: Raise a glass to state's wineries

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Did you have a chance to attend the recent Vancouver Jazz and Wine Festival? I was unable to go, but I hear it was a fantastic event. Great music and fine wine — what could be better?

While I have to wait until next summer to enjoy smooth jazz and robust reds under the warm Washington sun, there is one thing I can do now, and pretty much all year round: embark on a wine tour. If visiting regional wineries sounds like something you would like to do, it helps to know where to go. The library has several travel guides devoted to Northwest wineries, and these can be quite helpful for the grape-loving tourist. But if you've already checked out a guidebook and would appreciate some supplemental reading on Washington wineries, this week's book should be included on your wine, oops, your reading list.

"Spectacular Wineries of Washington" does not fit nicely inside your pocket, so be sure to read this coffee table beauty at home. There is some heft to this volume, and when you hit the wine trail, you'll want to save your strength for all those fabulous bottles of wine you'll inevitably purchase. But a road trip, whether it's for a day or a week, benefits from a bit of planning and/or research, so curl up in your favorite spot — perhaps with a glass of wine by your side — and enjoy an armchair tour of Washington vineyards.

Pages and pages of beautiful photographs please the eye, but you'll also discover plenty of information about the Washington wine industry. Did you know that Washington has more than 43,000 acres of vineyards? And that these vineyards supply more than 700 wineries? I knew that our viticultural roots were young compared to our neighbor, California, and of course, the storied, well-seasoned oenological superstar, France; but I had no idea that it really wasn't until the 1960s (my birth decade, for goodness sakes!) that Washington wines entered the commercial market.

Perhaps this book will spur you on to visit some of our state's gorgeous wineries; or, you may find that a bibliographic tour of regional vino quenches your thirst. I do not know if "in vino veritas" (in wine there is truth) is an accurate statement. But one thing I know for sure: whether by car or by book, you can have a "grape" time learning about Washington wines.