When hosting an event in Seattle, meeting planners have access to some of the freshest seafood in the country, one of the most robust wine and beer scenes in the world, and a long list of James Beard Award-winning restaurants (and potential venues) to choose from. There are many unique ways event organizers are able to incorporate the local flavors of the Pacific Northwest into their conferences — from artisan ice cream trucks to custom cheese curd bars.
Every year in March, Taste Washington, a four-day wine and food festival, showcases the best the area has to offer in terms of culinary excellence. The festival includes intimate events like a dinner series that pairs Washington wines with local and national chefs’ delicacies, and Pacific Standard, an event celebrating the area’s famous seafood, paired with the region’s best whites and rosés. Also, the event’s two-day Grand Tasting will feature more than 200 wineries and 65 chefs and restaurants.
With dozens of wineries in Seattle, and more than 1,000 in the state of Washington, the city is a wine lover’s dream. For group outings, there’s Woodinville Wine Country, home to more than 118 wineries. From bike trails to hot-air balloons, there are tons of ways for attendees to explore the area. Wine tours are a good way for large groups to try samples of the best the region has to offer. Outside of Woodinville, there’s Columbia Valley, the state’s largest growing region with more than 11 million acres of vineyards. Some of the best red wines are found in Horse Heaven Hills and Red Mountain — two critically acclaimed regions that are home to labels like Kiona Vineyards and Alexandria Nicole Cellars.
“Now 1,000 wineries strong, Washington is the second-largest wine region in the U.S.,” Steve Warner, president and CEO of the Washington State Wine Commission, tells PCMA. “Washington wine is easy to find in Seattle, as restaurants, retailers, and of course the Washington State Convention Center are huge supporters of local wine-grape farmers and artisan winemakers. World-class Washington wine would add to the quality of any event — especially one held here in Seattle.”
And with some 250 craft breweries in Washington, beer connoisseurs won’t be left out. The Pacific Northwest is also known for its IPAs — which makes sense, considering 75 percent of all the nation’s hops are grown in Washington. Local breweries such as Georgetown Brewing (some must-trys: the Lucille and Bodhizafa IPAs), Holy Mountain, Cloudburst, and Reuben’s Brews showcase the distinct Northwest flavors. And, the Ballard, Fremont, and SoDo neighborhoods are packed with dozens of craft breweries, like Fremont Brewing, many within walking distance of one another.
Outside of the wine and beer scene, there are lots of ways to incorporate the area’s F&B specialties into your event. For instance, the Bluebird ice cream truck can roll into any event, offering small-batch artisan ice cream in a retrofitted milk wagon. If your delegates prefer savory over sweet, Beecher’s Handmade Cheese can provide any networking reception or cocktail party with a customized cheese curd bar, including different varieties like chipotle and market herb. You can also incorporate Seattle’s famous oysters into any event, from pop-up oyster bars to onsite oyster shuckers. There are even oyster shucking classes for potential team-building activities.
In addition to annual festivals highlighting the flavors of the area, there are immersive F&B-focused activities throughout the city. For instance, Eat Seattle is a two-hour, chef-led tour of Pike Place Market, beginning with a shopping trip and ending with a cooking demonstration in the market’s Atrium Kitchen. Attendees can try different varieties of local cuisine while learning from culinary experts.
Whether you’re looking for a team-building activity centered on the city’s food and spirits scene, or you just want to add some local flavor to your welcome reception, Seattle has something for every attendee — and every palate.