For a decade, diners wanting to patronize restaurants that support Washington wineries used the Washington Wine Restaurant Awards for research.
The Washington State Wine Commission recently branded the contest as the Washington State Wine Awards, so starting next year, the public also will begin to learn of retailers, hotels and events that best showcase the state’s wine industry.
The commission’s 2013 celebration of restaurateurs and sommeliers who spotlight Washington wines will be staged Monday, Jan. 14, at McCaw Hall in Seattle.
Steve Burns created the awards program in 2002, two years before he ended his eight-year run as executive director of the wine commission. Winners of the inaugural 2003 awards included Barking Frog in Woodinville as Washington Restaurant of the Year and Shayn Bjornholm of Canlis in Seattle as Sommelier of the Year, while Lane Hoss of Anthony’s Restaurants earned the Walter Clore Honorarium.
The 2013 awards will add several categories and tiers, among them Best Hotel, Best Retailer, Best Event/Promotion, Tourism Champion of the Year, Tourism Concierge of the Year, Best Salesperson and Best Distributor/Wholesaler.
The top restaurant and top retailer each receive a goblet created by gaffer Jason Christian of The Seattle Glassblowing Studio. Winemakers, winery representatives and growers – the folks who fund the wine commission – make up the selection committee, said Monica Buntha, WSWC marketing manager.
Wine Press Northwest uses these awards to help identify restaurants deserving of its Match Maker chef/restaurant profiles. During the magazine’s first 15 years, the list of restaurants includes Anthony’s at Spokane Falls, Brix 25 in Gig Harbor, Sun Mountain Lodge in Winthrop, Waterfront Seafood Grill in Seattle and Wild Ginger in Seattle.
And Wine Press Northwest affectionately re-named it annual Great Northwest Wine List Competition “The Herbies” — a lasting tribute to the work and dedication of The Herbfarm’s co-proprietor Ron Zimmmerman. The Herbfarm has earned several accolades from the wine commission during the first 10 years, including Restaurant of the Year in 2005.
The deadline to enter or nominate was Dec. 7, and the awards ceremony is limited to trade and media. The four-hour program begins at 3 p.m., and RSVP is required by Jan. 10.