Introducing the Great Northwest Wine Competition

By on March 15, 2013
great northwest wine competition

The historic Columbia Gorge Hotel in Hood River, Ore., is home to the inaugural Great Northwest Wine Competition. (via

HOOD RIVER, Ore. – We are pleased to introduce the inaugural Great Northwest Wine Competition.

This new competition of West Coast wines is a collaboration between Great Northwest Wine and the historic Columbia Gorge Hotel. Judges arrive this evening, and the competition takes place Saturday and Sunday.

About 800 wines from Washington, Oregon, British Columbia, Idaho and California are entered in the Great Northwest Wine Competition.

We will have 16 professional judges including wine retailers, wine buyers, sommeliers, winemakers, wine writers, chefs and enologists. They will work in groups of four to determine gold, silver and bronze mendals for each wine. All wines are tasted blind by category. This means the judges know what kind of wine (such as Pinot Noir or Riesling) but not which winery made it or the price.

Red blends big at Great Northwest Wine Competition

The largest category, by far, is red blends, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir.

Here are the categories and the number of wines in each that will be judged:

  • Red blends: 124
  • Cabernet Sauvignon: 84
  • Pinot Noir: 71
  • Syrah: 61
  • Chardonnay: 51
  • Riesling: 45
  • Other red variety: 43
  • Merlot: 41
  • Other white variety: 36
  • Pinot Gris: 31
  • Rosé: 26
  • Cabernet Franc: 25
  • Malbec: 25
  • Viognier: 19
  • White blend: 18
  • Sauvignon Blanc: 17
  • Sangiovese: 14
  • Zinfandel/Primitivo: 13
  • Tempranillo: 12
  • Fruit/nongrape: 11
  • Sparkling: 9
  • Fortified: 9
  • Dessert: 8

If a specific variety such as Tempranillo or Viognier had at least 10 examples, we gave them their own categories. If they were smaller, such as Petite Sirah or Siegerrebe, we moved them into “other red or white” categories. We put Zinfandel and Primitivo together because they are genetically similar, and the judges will know which are Zin and which are Primitivo.

Northwest regions well represented

We are pleased with the broad representation of the wine regions that entered. We have wines from no fewer than 34 appellations. Three of the wines are from California grapes, though the wineries are in the Northwest. This competition actually was open to California wineries, but we didn’t have an opportunity to promote it in California this year, so we stuck with the Pacific Northwest.

Here’s how the entries break down by appellation:

  • Columbia Valley: 227
  • Snake River Valley: 67
  • Horse Heaven Hills: 58
  • Yakima Valley: 40
  • Wahluke Slope: 39
  • Walla Walla Valley: 36
  • Willamette Valley: 35
  • Okanagan Valley: 32
  • Red Mountain: 28
  • Washington: 23
  • Umpqua Valley: 21
  • Columbia Gorge: 20
  • Rogue Valley: 19
  • Yamhill-Carlton: 19
  • Snipes Mountain: 18
  • Southern Oregon: 16
  • Lake Chelan: 13
  • Eola-Amity Hills: 12
  • Chehalem Mountains: 10
  • Oregon: 10
  • Dundee Hills: 9
  • Rattlesnake Hills: 9
  • Applegate Valley: 6
  • Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley: 5
  • Puget Sound: 4
  • British Columbia: 3
  • Vancouver Island: 3
  • Idaho: 3
  • Naches Heights: 3
  • Ribbon Ridge: 2
  • Russian River Valley: 2
  • McMinnville: 1
  • American: 1 (this is a blend of Washington and Idaho grapes)
  • North Coast: 1

Follow Great Northwest Wine Competition results online

We plan to post gold medals on Twitter as the judges award them. You can follow by using the hastag #GreatNorthwestWine.

At the conclusion of the competition on Sunday evening, we will post the results on Great Northwest Wine.

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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