Grape Escape festival is a culinary celebration
February 26, 2013
By Marika Price
The Rotary Club of Issaquah will celebrate local charities and cuisine at its seventh annual Grape Escape festival March 7. The event features food, wine and beer from nearby establishments.
The event started as a small wine tasting with about five area wineries featured. Not only has the number of vintners involved quadrupled, but restaurants now also provide appetizer-sized signature dishes. And everyone who participates in the festive event is supporting the Rotary Club’s many charitable undertakings.
“It’s a win-win for everybody,” said Jacalyn Holsted, the Rotary Club’s marketing director. “It’s a chance to have fun, promote local businesses and give back.”
Since 2007, Grape Escape has raised more than $65,000 for many causes, including Rotary First Harvest, Issaquah Food Bank and various student scholarship programs.
Thanks to community support and many hours of planning, the evening has become the service group’s main fundraiser.
“This event allows us to spread funds to the community and make grants to local nonprofits,” Lesley Austin, program coordinator for Rotary, said.
Due to the winter event’s popularity, the Rotary Club switched the location last year from the Hilton Garden Inn to Pickering Barn to accommodate more than 400 guests. They raised about $20,000, double the amount of previous years, Austin said.
After receiving positive feedback from attendees, the Rotary Club booked the historic venue nearly a year in advance for this year’s festival. An event coordinator for the venue said the facility is suited for the Issaquah event because it is convenient, affordable and easy to personalize.
This year’s Grape Escape will be “similar to last year’s event, but with more celebration,” Holsted said.
This year’s festival will feature more than 20 wineries from the Puget Sound region. Four distilleries — Sidetrack Distillery, Sound Spirits, Fremont Distillery and Rogue Distillery — will offer their products as well.
If you go
Also, bottles of wine and craft beer will be available for purchase with no added sales tax.
Restaurants providing signature dishes include Wild Fin American Grill, Agave, Tutta Bella, Pogacha, Cascade Gardens, Red Robin, My Chef Lynn, and Fall City Roadhouse and Inn.
The culinary celebration is capped off with a silent auction featuring fine wine, wine-related items and hotel getaway packages.
While known for its record-breaking fundraising and dining experience, Grape Escape is also an opportunity to connect with old friends.
“When people come to this event, they always say they run into community members that they have not seen for several years,” Austin said. “It’s really important for community bonding.”
Marika Price is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.