HOOD RIVER, Ore. – A new kind of wine competition is taking place this week at the historic Columbia Gorge Hotel.
Great Northwest Wine is conducting the inaugural Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition. The judging begins today and concludes Thursday.
Here’s how it works: We enlisted a dozen of the most influential wine professionals in the Pacific Northwest and asked them to nominate up to 100 wines from Washington, Oregon and Idaho. We then invited wineries to enter the nominees.
Now these 12 judges will spend the next two days considering the wines that were entered.
- Fred Armstrong is the wine director for the Ringside Hospitality Group in Portland
- Cole Danehower is the publisher at EssentialNorthwestWines.com, contributes the Northwest content for Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book and was longtime editor of Northwest Palate magazine.
- Ilene Dudunake owns A New Vintage Wine Shop, 12-year-old business near Boise, Idaho.
- Don Elsing is the wine director at Sun Mountain Lodge in Winthrop, Wash.
- Dave Holstrom owns Guy du Vin, a restaurant wine program consulting business in Portland.
- Chris Horn is the wine director at Seattle-based Heavy Restaurant Group and Purple Cafe & Wine Bar.
- Lane Hoss is vice president of marketing at Anthony’s Restaurants.
- Tim O’Brien is corporate director of beverage at Salty’s Restaurants.
- Yashar Shayan is a sommelier and founder of the Seattle-based retailer ImpulseWine.com.
- Mark Takagi is specialty sales director of the Seattle-based Metropolitan Market group.
- Matt Tessler works for Full Pull Wines in Seattle.
- Jean Yates is founder and former owner of Avalon Wine in Corvallis, Ore. She now owns Oregon Wine Marketing.
All of the wines are being judged blind, meaning the judges do not know the producers, nor do they know the price. They do know the variety or style of wine being tasted – Cabernet Sauvignon or Riesling, for example. After the competition is complete, the judges will have the opportunity to see the wines.
Most competitions, including our Great Northwest Wine Competition, are “open,” meaning any winery may enter any wine. This format puts wine in front of judges who influence or purchase a lot of the wine that is sold to the general public through restaurants and retailers. It also provides wine lovers a look at what these influential wine professionals like.
Results of the Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition will be posted soon after the competition is completed Thursday afternoon. However, wines that win gold medals will be posted immediately on Twitter. Follow @GreatNWWine or search for #greatnorthwestwine to find out who won gold medals – even before the judges know which wines they selected.
The concept for the Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition was inspired by the Six Nations Wine Challenge, an invitational-style judging that includes wines from Argentina, Australia, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States. In it, one judge from each country nominates and arranges to have his nominations sent to the site of the competition (Australia). Then the six judges taste all 600 entries over the course of several days to determine the top wines.