Video Vintage

Shortly after the arrival of its new director, Jane Baxter Lynn, the Washington Wine Commission unveiled its ambitious new branding campaign for the state's industry with the slogan "Washington State: The Perfect Climate for Wine." Should you now encounter the PBS documentary Washington Wine: World Class, you might marvel at Baxter Lynn's ability to slip an hour-long infomercial for the state's vinous products onto the public airwaves. But however suspicious the simultaneity, everyone concerned with the production of the documentary (shot and edited at Tacoma's PBS affiliate, KBTC) swears that it's just serendipity. Washington wine has come of age, they say; if anything, we're a little behindhand at tooting our horn about it. Fair enough; and though Washington Wine: World Class breaks no new ground as a documentary, its visuals are agreeable enough eye candy—sweeping vistas of vineyards at sunset, close-ups of dusty, glistening bunches of grapes—to hold a casual viewer while the low-key narration plants its stealth messages: Washington is the second-largest producer of grapes in the nation; its overall quality challenges not just California wines but those of Old Europe; the local tasting-room lifestyle is as much fun as Napa's but with more class (no hitting on the vinista here, chum); and so on. I'm assuming most people who watch the show are going to be general-audience out-of-staters, and that's fine, but the show also has a good deal to offer locals who consider themselves wine buffs. Washington's industry has grown so rapidly over the mere 30 years of its modern existence that it's far outrun the knowledge base in the heads of state residents. KBTC's documentary conveys such information with some appealing visuals, but its strongest selling device is probably the array of talking heads filmed enthusing about the subject that rules their days and souls. There are founding fathers such as Woodward Canyon's Rick Small and Quilceda Creek's Alex Golitzin, second-generation true believers like Leonetti Cellars' Chris Figgins, enological sage David Lake of Columbia Cellars, and super-sommelier Erik Liedholm of Seastar Restaurant. There's a distinct lack of female voices (Lane Hoss, wine buyer for Anthony's Restaurants, strives to redress the balance) and a certain amount of vulgar back-scratching (strange how all the talking heads get plugs for their wine), but as such things go, the program is agreeable, informative, and low- pressure. Check it out when it airs during KBTC's upcoming pledge drive or later in the regular broadcast lineup. Washington Wine: World Class airs at 7:30 p.m. Thurs., March 3; it will be rebroadcast at 7:30 p.m. Mon., March 7, and Fri., March 11.

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