Our Experts

Mark Takagi

June 26, 2023  |   by Cameron Ito

If you ask anyone in the Washington wine industry if they know Mark Takagi, chances are the response will be an astounding “of course!” This should come as no surprise since Mark has been in the industry for almost 40 years, since around the time when Washington wine began taking shape into what it is today. In an industry where friendships are made, family comes first, and traditions are upheld, Mark has created many lasting relationships.

I regard Mark Takagi as one of the best buyers that I have worked with…in Seattle and throughout the U.S. for my almost 60 years. Mark is a kind and caring individual, humble, thoughtful about his job and the suppliers that he works with. He has always been helpful and gracious making each exchange a win/win! It is not surprising that Mark is extraordinary in his job as the products that he buys — beer, wine, and spirits — are so interesting, touching on sensory evaluation, history, agriculture, brewing, wine making, distilling, and, of course, marketing. It is surprising that many other buyers are not so enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and passionate about what they sell! That is to Metropolitan’s advantage! Mark has an excellent palate, is well educated, and knowledgeable! Additionally, Mark has traveled to breweries, wineries, and distilleries all over the place, giving him the equivalent of a master’s degree in alcoholic beverages. — Charles Finkel, Pike Brewing Company

mark takagi

Early Harvest

Let’s rewind to the beginning of Mark’s love of wine. In the mid-1970s, Mark held various positions at several high-end restaurants, ranging from kitchen duty to wait staff. In 1977, while working at the Rainier Bank Tower, which specialized in fine dining and wine pairing, Mark realized the importance of selecting wines that complement food — he says, “Food is always the centerpiece with any beverage.” During his college days, Mark was an outlier among his beer-focused friends, as he was the first to appreciate and enjoy wine. He became interested in learning more and educated himself about winemaking, studying and tasting a variety of wines to broaden his understanding. “Wine, to me, has always been the art of blending,” says Mark. During a time when wine knowledge was limited, especially in Washington, he learned through experimentation and reading everything he could find to start his journey.

I first met Mark when he was a waiter, and I was a cook at McCormick’s in 1980. He was as honest and feisty then as he is now. I often call on him for advice on what’s going on in the marketplace and where our business might fit with his at Metropolitan Market. When someone gives you their time and talent freely like Mark…you better listen, or you’ll learn you should have. — Tom Douglas, Tom Douglas Restaurants

Crushing it

Mark’s foray into retail wine began in 1985 when he became a wine steward on Mercer Island. His passion for wine flourished as he toured various vineyards, forged friendships with up-and-coming winemakers, and observed the buzz that surrounded the early development and popularity of Washington wines. While Washington had always been famous for apples, the region was now gaining recognition for grapes. During a vineyard visit with Marty Club of L’Ecole No.41 in 1990, Mark realized that Washington wines were truly something special. Reflecting on the evolution of Washington wine, Mark says, “Wines here can rival others on a global scale. The diversity that we have allows us to enjoy such a variety of wine, locally.”

mark takagi

Mark Takagi is a tremendous supporter of Washington wines as well as the wines of Mark Ryan Winery and all our affiliated brands. Mark has fantastic wine knowledge and is a pleasure to work with. — Mark McNeilly, Mark Ryan Winery

mark takagi talking about wine

90-Point Rating

In 1990, Mark joined Metropolitan Market, attracted by its prominent position in the market and extensive collection of fine wines. That same year, he received the Wine Retailer of the Year award from both the Washington Wine Commission and Wine Spectator’s trade publication, Market Watch. Mark’s excellence was acknowledged again in 2018 when he received the Wine Retailer of the Year award from Seattle magazine. Over the years, Mark has participated as a panel member at the International Riesling Rendezvous, judged wine tastings at local and national levels, and was a panel member at the World Vinifera conference, where he addressed more than 800 peers in the industry. Regarded by the Seattle Times as “one of the best in the industry,” Mark has earned the respect of his colleagues. Despite his many accomplishments, Mark remains humble and credits his enduring passion for his career to the joy of introducing and sharing new and exciting wines with the community.


Marks experience and expertise is seen throughout the department, showcased through metropolitan market wines and champagnes, offering incredible values and exceptional drinking experiences. Beyond wines, Mark’s relationships in the industry have yielded exclusives through various distilleries, including Woodford Reserve, Whistle Pig, Copper Works, High West, and many more. On the beer side, a collaboration with Caffe Vita and Pike Brewing offered a limited-release, flavorful stout, and last year; a long-anticipated, small batch, peach-o-rama sour in collaboration with Urban Family Brewing.

mark takagi pouring wine
mark takagi looking at wine

Better with Age

Mark’s love for wine is well-known and he enjoys sharing his expertise with friends and family, but he has many other interests that keep his life balanced. A true soccer aficionado, he not only roots for the Sounders, but also plays in a recreational league a few times a week. In addition, Mark enjoys hitting the golf course when weather permits. He’s seen a long list of legendary musicians in concert, including Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac, and the Grateful Dead (well over 100 times!), and he loves to travel with his wife to destinations with great food, drinks, and sunshine. While the idea of retirement occasionally comes up, Mark isn’t ready to call it quits any time soon; he plans to continue doing what he loves for as long as possible.

Sharing a Glass

Aspiring beverage industry professionals should take note of Mark’s advice: gain comprehensive knowledge of every aspect of the industry, from beer and wine to spirits. This profession demands a deep commitment to truly appreciate and understand it. To make informed decisions, it’s crucial to stay up-to-date with industry trends and listen carefully to consumer feedback.