Northwest wines win 8 top awards in giant California competition

By on January 11, 2013
Oregon wine, Washington wine

More than 5,500 wines from across the United States were judged this week at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

CLOVERDALE, Calif. – Eight Northwest wines earned best-of-class awards at the nation’s largest wine competition.

The winners were announced Friday morning at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, conducted in the northern Sonoma County town of Cloverdale.

Maryhill Winery in Goldendale, Wash., won a unanimous double gold and three gold medals for red wines, three of which were for its new vineyard-designated series.

Barnard Griffin won a best-of-class for its 2011 Chardonnay, the Richland, Wash., winery’s largest-production wine at 11,000 cases. Owner/winemaker Rob Griffin uses grapes from four vineyards, including his estate Caraway Vineyard near Kennewick.

In a bit of an upset, Barnard Griffin’s rosé of Sangiovese did not win a gold for the first time in eight years. The 2012 rosé won a silver medal this year, which Griffin was happy with.

“The streak had to end eventually,” he said.

Bob Fraser, director of the San Francisco Wine Competition, called Barnard Griffin’s streak remarkable and unprecedented.

“They do such a good job with their wines,” he said. “It’s a tough competition, and to run that streak is astounding.”

Oregon, Washington wines show well

Fraser, who spent part of last year touring Pacific Northwest wineries, said the Northwest continues to show well in the competition.

“The Northwest has fared exceptionally well in the past two to three years especially,” he said. “That’s a mark of the viticultural and winemaking practices in the Pacific Northwest.”

The Hogue Cellars 2011 Riesling ($11) from the Columbia Valley took best of class for the off-dry category of greater than 1.5 percent residual sugar.

“As the Washington wine industry continues to grow and mature, results such as this year after year serve to cement our world-class reputation,” said Co Dinn, director of winemaking for the Prosser winery. “We are just glad to be doing our part to help.”

Wines from southern growing regions of Oregon produced 12 gold medals, including best-of-class awards by Schmidt Family Vinyeards for its 2009 Tempranillo and South Stage Cellars for its 2008 Syrah.

“Kudos to Schmidt and South Stage,” said winemaker Herb Quady, who produced a gold medal for Troon Vineyards with its 2011 Chardonnay. “Southern Oregon did well, overall.”

About 60 wine professionals judged more than 5,500 entries over four days for this year’s competition.

The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition started in 1983 as the Cloverdale Citrus Fair Wine Competition. It began as a local competition and now includes wines from across the United States. Through the years, it has grown to become the largest wine competition in the country.

A public tasting of top wines from the competition will take place Feb. 16 at Fort Mason in San Francisco.

Here are the top medals from Northwest wineries:

Best of class

  • Airfield Estates 2011 Barbera, Yakima Valley, $28
  • Barnard Griffin 2011 Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $14
  • Gordon Brothers Cellars 2009 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $21
  • Hogue Cellars 2011 Riesling, Columbia Valley, $11
  • Kiona Vineyards Winery 2011 Chenin Blanc, Columbia Valley, $15
  • Marchesi Vineyards 2010 Nebbiolo, Columbia Valley, $35
  • Schmidt Family Vineyards 2009 Tempranillo, Southern Oregon, $36
  • South Stage Cellars 2008 Syrah, Rogue Valley, $26

Double gold

  • Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2011 Destiny Ridge Vineyard Grenache, Horse Heaven Hills, $38
  • Brandborg 2011 Gewürztraminer, Umpqua Valley, $18
  • Del Rio Vineyards 2011 Viognier, Rogue Valley, $20
  • Diversion Wine NV Riesling, Washington, $15
  • Dusted Valley Vintners 2010 Cabernet Franc, Columbia Valley, $42
  • Maryhill Winery 2010 Les Collines Vineyard Merlot, Walla Walla Valley, $32
  • Masquerade Wine Co. NV Effervescing Elephant, Columbia Valley, $35
  • Verve Wines 2011 Gewürztraminer Dessert, Oregon, $22
  • Willamette Valley Vineyards 2011 Riesling, Willamette Valley, $14


  • Abacela 2011 Albariño, Umpqua Valley, $18
  • Abacela 2009 Reserve Syrah, Umpqua Valley, $50
  • Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2012 Destiny Ridge Vineyard Shepherd’s Mark, Horse Heaven Hills, $20
  • Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2010 a2 Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills, $24
  • Almquist Family Vintners 2009 Petit Verdot, Wahluke Slope, $28
  • Almquist Family Vintners 2009 Purple Sage Vineyard Dolcetto, Wahluke Slope, $28
  • Angel Vine 2010 The Hellion, Columbia Valley, $22
  • Barnard Griffin 2008 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $40
  • Basalt Cellars 2010 Rim Rock Red, Columbia Valley, $18
  • Canoe Ridge Vineyard 2011 Expedition Chardonnay, Horse Heaven Hills, $14
  • Chateau Ste. Michelle 2011 Dry Riesling, Columbia Valley, $9
  • Chateau Ste. Michelle 2011 Eroica Riesling, Columbia Valley, $20
  • Convergence Zone Cellars 2010 Virga, Red Mountain, $28
  • Cougar Crest Estate Winery 2010 Cougar Hills Vineyard Viognier, Walla Walla Valley, $20
  • Desert Wind Winery 2011 Viognier, Wahluke Slope, $15
  • Desert Wind Winery 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Wahluke Slope, $18
  • Domaine Ste. Michelle NV Extra Dry, Columbia Valley, $12
  • Dusted Valley Vintners 2010 Stained Tooth Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $32
  • Dusted Valley Vintners 2010 Petite Sirah, Columbia Valley, $42
  • Farm Boy Wines 2010 Bunk House Red, Columbia Valley, $15
  • Four Graces 2010 Black Family Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, $75
  • Griffin Creek 2008 Viognier, Rogue Valley, $25
  • Hamilton Cellars 2009 Malbec, Columbia Valley, $30
  • Hamilton Cellars 2009 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $28
  • Hogue Cellars 2011 Late Harvest Riesling, Columbia Valley, $11
  • Joel Gott Wines 2011 Riesling, Columbia Valley, $12
  • Kiona Vineyards Winery 2010 Chenin Blanc Ice Wine, Red Mountain, $25
  • Knight Hill Winery 2009 StoneTree Vineyard Rook’s Red, Wahluke Slope, $23
  • Ledger David Cellars 2010 Orion’s Nebula Red Blend, Rogue Valley, $30
  • Little Monsters Wine, Mama’s Helper White (Riesling), Washington, $15
  • Martin-Scott Winery 2009 Raven’s Ridge Red, Columbia Valley, $24
  • Maryhill Winery 2010 Proprietor’s Reserve Sangiovese, Columbia Valley, $20
  • Maryhill Winery 2010 Les Collines Vineyard Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $36
  • Maryhill Winery 2010 Hattrup Farms Marvell, Rattlesnake Hills, $32
  • Northstar Winery 2009 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $41
  • Northstar Winery 2009 Merlot, Walla Walla Valley, $50
  • Pebblestone Cellars 2011 Ellis Vineyards Pinot Gris, Rogue Valley, $16
  • Rainstorm 2011 Pinot Gris, Oregon, $14
  • Revelry Vintners 2010 Weinbau Vineyard Syrah, Wahluke Slope, $42
  • Rolling Bay Winery 2010 Upland Vineyard Manitou Red, Snipes Mountain, $28
  • Samson Estates Winery 2011 Riesling, Yakima Valley, $15
  • Schmidt Family Vineyards 2011 Pinot Gris, Southern Oregon, $22
  • Skylite Cellars 2008 River Rock Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $29
  • Smasne Cellars 2010 Upland Vineyard Muscat Ice Wine, Snipes Mountain, $36
  • Sokol Blosser NV Evolution, Oregon, $15
  • Sozo Friends 2009 Balance, Columbia Valley, $48
  • Spangler Vineyards 2009 Claret, Southern Oregon, $25
  • Spangler Vineyards 2010 Grenache, Southern Oregon, $30
  • Spring Vallley Vineyard 2009 Uriah’s Red, Walla Walla Valley, $50
  • Tertulia Cellars 2008 Les Collines Vineyard Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $28
  • Three Rivers Winery 2010 River’s Red, Columbia Valley, $14
  • Troon Vineyard 2011 Chardonnay, Applegate Valley, $22
  • Willamette Valley Vineyards 2011 Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley, $16
  • Zerba Cellars 2009 Cockburn Vineyard Grenache, Walla Walla Valley, $38

About Andy Perdue

Andy Perdue is founding partner of Great Northwest Wine LLC and a longtime wine columnist. He is a third-generation journalist who has worked at newspapers since the mid-1980s and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest magazine with Eric Degerman and served as its editor-in-chief for 15 years. He is the author of "The Northwest Wine Guide: A Buyer's Handbook" (Sasquatch, 2003) and has contributed to four other books.


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