Pacific NW Wine Competition
The Pacific Northwest Wine Competition’s 8th annual judged event was, without a doubt, the biggest and best in the Whatcom Beer and Wine Foundation’s history. 110 wineries from the Pacific Northwest entered a record total of 557 wines in this year’s competition, held from July 9 to 12, 2023 at Walla Walla Community College.
Best in Show honors were awarded to the Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2022 Shepards Mark. The Prosser, Washington-based winery, owned by veteran winemaker Jarrod Boyle and his wife Ali, earned a near-perfect, 99-point score for its white wine blend, which was also recognized as the Best White Wine of the competition.
Among the judging’s 154 Double Gold (unanimous Gold) and 152 Gold medalists, Walla Walla’s Dunham Cellars 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon XXV received the Best Red Wine award, and Prosser’s Mercer Wine Estates 2022 Rosé, crafted from 100% Grenache, took home the Best Rosé honors.
Alexandria Nicole launched the Shepards Mark label in 2004, and the three-varietal Rhone blend of Roussanne, Marsanne, and Viognier was the first of its kind in Washington State. It’s fitting that the grapes for this long-time winery favorite were sourced from the Boyle’s estate-grown Destiny Ridge Vineyard, which celebrates the 25th anniversary of its initial planting this year.
Other notable achievements in this year’s competition included Woodinville-based wineries Callan Cellars, which scored a perfect four Double Golds on its four entries and DeLille Cellars, which earned three out of four Double Golds; Red Mountain’s Hamilton Cellars, which picked up three Double Golds and a Gold from its four entries; Mercer Wine Estates, a four out of five Double Gold entrant; and Longship Cellars in Richland, a four Double Gold and two Gold medal recipient on six entries.
Heading up Walla Walla wineries were Plumb Cellars, which received four Double Golds out of five entries; and Golden Ridge Cellars, which entered four wines and earned three Double Golds plus a Gold medal.
Other multiple Double Gold and Gold medalists included Carlton, Oregon’s Chris James Cellars, receiving five Doubles and five Golds out of 15 entries; Chelan’s Mellisoni Vineyards, which earned six Double Golds and five Golds on 14 entries, and Tsillan Cellars, also of Chelan, which entered 20 wines and picked up a well-deserved eight Double Golds and seven Gold medals.
Also notable were two wineries based in the Puget Sound AVA: Stanwood’s Bayernmoor Cellars, a four Double Gold and two Gold Medal winner out of seven entries; and newcomer winery Van Vino Vineyards from Blaine, which came away with three Double Golds and one Gold out of six entries in one of their first-ever competitions.
“The fact that 20 wineries joined us for the first time this year speaks to the increasing support we’re receiving for our competition,” said Dan Radil of the Whatcom Beer and Wine Foundation, the non-profit organization that produces the event.
“We moved our competition from Bellingham to Walla Walla this year, and the transition was virtually seamless,” he added.
“We couldn’t have done this without an outstanding panel of both new and returning judges, and without our incredible team of volunteers, many who travelled from Whatcom County and kept the backroom and overall competition operating flawlessly.”
“We’ll continue to grow the event and look forward to expanding our outreach to promote wineries throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia, while working to raise funds for our designated beneficiaries,” he said.
The Foundation plans to return to Walla Walla Community College in 2024 for its 9th Annual Judged Competition. A late-June date is anticipated, and applications for wine entries will be available beginning in April of 2024.
It’s official! The 8th Annual Bellingham Northwest Wine Competition will move its “corporate headquarters” from Bellingham to Walla Walla, Washington and become the Pacific Northwest Wine Competition.
Produced by the Whatcom Beer & Wine Foundation, the other elements of the 2023 event will remain unchanged from past years. The judged competition will be open to all wineries in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia and is scheduled to take place from July 9 to 12, 2023. Both point scores and medals are awarded at the conclusion of the event and Gold and Double Gold medalists will qualify for the Great Northwest Wine Platinum Judging in October.
Complete details will be available at the www.PacificNorthwestWineCompetition web site in the months ahead.
The 7th Annual Bellingham Northwest Wine Competition was another record-breaking event! 103 wineries from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho entered 482 wines in this year’s competition, held over a four-day period that concluded on July 9, 2022. The number of wines easily bested last year’s previous record total of 351 entries.
Twenty-six wineries joined the competition for the first time, including Great Northwest Wine Magazine’s 2022 Washington Winery of the Year, Westport Winery Garden Resort; 2022 Washington Winery to Watch, Liberty Lake Wine Cellars; 2022 Oregon Winery of the Year, Chris James Cellars; and multi-Platinum award-winner, Clearwater Canyon Cellars from Idaho.
Wineries were rewarded with an amazing and well-deserved 154 Double Gold medals. A Double Gold is achieved when each of the four judges on the tasting panel awards the wine a Gold medal, making it a unanimous choice.
Best in Show honors went to the Thurston Wolfe Winery 2021 PGV Pinot Gris-Viognier. Prosser, Washington Owner/Winemaker Dr. Wade Wolfe is no stranger to Best in Show awards; his 2016 Petit Verdot also took top honors in the competition three years ago.
Although he’s been making the Pinot Gris-Viognier blend since about 1998, Wolfe says he’s always hesitant to enter it in a competition because the blend (the 2021 vintage was 50/50) usually doesn’t fit neatly into a judging category.
But the wine has always been a favorite among consumers. In fact, it’s become so popular Wolfe has steadily expanded his original production of 100 cases to last year’s highest level: 3,500 cases.
With the 2021 PGV scored as a “favorite” of this year’s judging panel as well, it becomes the first white wine recognized as an outright Best in Show winner in the Competition’s history.
In addition to his 98-point Best in Show PGV, Wolfe also received a remarkable six Double Golds and three Golds for his other nine entries.
Other notable achievements in the 2022 Competition included a 97-point, Double Gold wine from five individual wineries: Chris James Cellars in Carlton, Oregon, Clearwater Canyon Cellars in Lewiston, Idaho, Bellingham, Washington’s Dynasty Cellars, Red Mountain’s Hedges Family Estate, and Zerba Cellars in Milton-Freewater, Oregon.
Several wineries earned multiple Double Gold medals including Chelan Ridge Winery (six), Succession Wines (five), CR Sandidge Wines (four), and Mellisoni Vineyards (four), all from the Lake Chelan area; Westport Winery Garden Resort from Aberdeen, Washington (five); L’atitude 47 from Walla Walla (four), and Chris James Cellars (four).
The Whatcom Beer and Wine Foundation is pleased to announce that next year’s 8th Annual Judged Competition will move from Bellingham to Walla Walla and become the Pacific Northwest Wine Competition. The event will continue its tradition of honoring the region’s top wines while raising funds for its designated beneficiaries.
The Whatcom Beer and Wine Foundation is pleased to announce that the dates have been set for their 7th Annual Judged Competition.
The 2022 event will take place over two weekends, July 1 and 2 and July 8 and 9, at North Bellingham Golf Course and 9Restaurant.
“We anticipate somewhere between 400 and 500 entries in this year’s competition,” said Foundation President Dan Radil. “That would make this the largest event in our seven year history.”
The competition is open to all wineries in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia. Medals and point scores will be released on July 14, 2022. Any wine winning a Gold or Double Gold medal will automatically qualify for the Great Northwest Wine Platinum Judging, normally held in October.
Applications will be accepted after April 1, and are available on the Foundation’s website.
All net proceeds from the event will be distributed by the Foundation to this year’s beneficiaries: Alzheimer’s Association – Team Joy, Blue Skies for Children, Our TreeHouse, and the WSU Enology and Viticulture Discretionary Fund.
The 2021 Bellingham Northwest Wine Festival Judged Competition was one for the record books! It featured a record number of entries, participating wineries, and Gold and Double Gold medalists. It was also capped with a pleasant surprise: the Best in Show award for the top point-receiving wine ended in a tie.
Our sixth annual event took place at the Four Points by Sheraton Bellingham Hotel and Conference Center on July 3, 9, and 10, 2021. 351 wines from Oregon and Washington were blind tasted by a panel of seven judges over the three-day period.
Best in Show honors were shared by a Washington red and a Washington white wine; the Callan Cellars 2019 GSM from Woodinville winemaker Lisa Callan, and the Longship Cellars 2020 Mind and Memory Sauvignon Blanc from winemaker Kyle Welch in Richland.
Both wines originated from the Yakima Valley American Viticultural Area. Callan’s blend of 84-percent Syrah, 14-percent Grenache, and 3-percent Mourvèdre came from Boushey Vineyards, while Welch’s first-ever Sauvignon Blanc was sourced from the Valley’s Sugarloaf Vineyard.
There were plenty of other notable award winners, with seven wineries earning three or more Double Golds (unanimous gold scores) from the judges.
In addition to Callan Cellars’ three Double Golds, four other Washington wineries scored three doubles: Lake Chelan’s Tsillan Cellars, Wit Cellars in Prosser, Quincy-based Jones of Washington, and Van Arnam Vineyards in Zillah.
Two wineries also earned an event-record four Double Gold medals: Zerba Cellars, based in Milton-Freewater, Oregon, and Thurston Wolfe Winery in Prosser, Washington.
For a complete list of medal winners go to: https://www.whatcombeerandwinefoundation.org/medalists
Congratulations to the 2020 Bellingham Northwest Wine Festival Judged Competition Best in Show winner: Joseph Christy Vineyards 2017 Estate Syrah.
A record-setting 274 wines were entered in the competition. The panel of judges awarded 18 unanimous golds (Double Gold) and 65 Gold medals.
For a complete list of 2020 Medal Winners please go to:
The 2020 Bellingham Northwest Wine Festival, originally scheduled for Saturday, July 25, has been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions and out of concern for the safety and health of all wineries, guests, and volunteers who would be involved in the event.
The good news is that the judged competition portion of the Festival will proceed as scheduled. Wineries have until July 3 to submit their wines for judging. All medal-winning wines will be announced on July 25.
For complete information, please visit our web site at:
The 2019 Bellingham Northwest Wine Festival turned out to be the biggest and best event in the Festival’s four-year history.
Over 500 attendees filled the Four Points by Sheraton Ballroom and were treated to over 225 wines from 61 different wine labels from Pacific Northwest wineries.
For a complete list of the medal-winning wines, go to www.BellinghamNorthwestWineFestival.com
Get ready for THE premiere food and wine tasting event in Northwest Washington!
The 4th Annual Bellingham Northwest Wine Festival is scheduled for Saturday, August 10, 2019 from 6:00 to 10:00 pm.
The Festival returns to the Four Points by Sheraton Grand Ballroom in Bellingham and will include up to four hours of tasting, medals and Best in Show presentation from an earlier judged competition, a silent auction of wine-related items, and an order desk for post-event purchases of your favorite Festival wines.
Expect the same impressive tasting list from up to 55 Pacific Northwest wineries, along with passed appetizers and small plates from eight Whatcom County restaurants, plus two distilleries and one brewery. This is a culinary extravaganza not to be missed!
Complete information including ticket purchases can be found on the Festival web site at www.BellinghamNorthwestWineFestival.com
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The 3rd Annual Bellingham Northwest Wine Festival was another smashing success.
53 wineries from the Pacific Northwest poured over 175 wines at the August 4, 2018 event.
Festivalgoers also had the chance to taste a number of delectable food samples from eight Whatcom County restaurants as well as beer tastes from Bellingham’s Stones Throw Brewery and spirits from Fremont Mischief Distillery and Paraty Spirits.
In addition, the evening included a medal presentation from an earlier judged competition that included 22 golds, 3 double golds and the Best in Show award which went to the Hedges Family Estate 2016 Syrah.
For a list of all of the 2018 medal winners go to www.BellinghamNorthwestWineFestival.com
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The newly-launched Discover Washington Wine web site is up and running and should serve as your go-to reference point for information about all the State’s wine regions, wineries, and tasting rooms.
The site provides you with an alphabetical listing, by city, of every winery in Washington. This is an invaluable tool for Northwest wine lovers planning to travel or who’d like to recommend wineries to others in a specific geographic region.
There are also some great articles focusing on all things wine-related including features on varietals, vineyards, winemakers, and much more.
Click on the “Things to Check Out” link for instant access to this incredible new site!
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By all accounts, the 2nd Annual Bellingham Northwest Wine Festival was a huge success. Over 400 attendees filled the Grand Ballroom of the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel on August 5, 2017 and were treated to an incredible array of good food and excellent wines.
31 gold medals and 6 double golds (unanimous gold honors by the panel’s five judges) were also awarded during the evening. Winthrop Washington’s Lost River Winery earned Best in Show honors for its 2013 Merlot.
For a complete list of medal winners visit www.BellinghamNorthwestWineFestival.com