Great Northwest Wine Competition begins today

By on April 2, 2014
great northwest wine competition

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

HOOD RIVER, Ore. – Top wine judges will come together to evaluate nearly 1,000 wines in the second annual Great Northwest Wine Competition.

The judging, which takes place today and Thursday at the historic Columbia Gorge Hotel east of Portland, has become the largest judging of Pacific Northwest wines in just its second year. The judges will evaluate wines from Washington, Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia.

Last year, Zerba Cellars in Milton-Freewater, Ore., won best in show for its 2010 Malbec from the Walla Walla Valley. Here are the full results from the 2013 competition.

The judges for this year’s competition are:

Kristine Bono, winery evangelist for Alexandria Nicole Cellars. Bono, who has extensive Northwest judging experience, oversees guest experiences for Alexandria Nicole, which has tasting rooms in Prosser and Woodinville, Wash. The winery’s estate Destiny Ridge Vineyard is in the Horse Heaven Hills. Bono also has worked for Col Solare on Red Mountain.

Alan Busacca, director for the Center for Enology and Viticulture at Walla Walla Community College. Busacca is a former professor of geology at Washington State University who has gained acclaim in the past 15 years as an expert on the Ice Age Floods and how they helped shape the modern Washington wine industry. He researches and writes petitions for American Viticultural Areas. His past experience with AVA petitions includes Lake Chelan, the Wahluke Slope, the Horse Heaven Hills and the Rattlesnake Hills. He also authored the petition for the proposed Lewis-Clark Valley AVA in and around the cities of Lewiston, Idaho, and Clarkston, Wash. He also launched AlmaTerra, a winery in Bingen, Wash.

Big John Caudill, sales manager for Cuvee Northwest in Yakima, Wash. Caudill, a trained chef, works for Sheridan Vineyard, Upland Estates and Syncline Cellars. He’s also worked for Bunnell Family Cellar and other Washington wineries. In the 1990s, he worked for Seattle Cellars, a wine merchant. He’s also worked as a chef at restaurants from Yakima to the Tri-Cities in eastern Washington.

Cole Danehower, owner of in Portland. Danehower, a longtime wine writer, author and marketer, launched Oregon Wine Report in 1998. He published the newsletter until 2005. At that time, he became publisher of Northwest Palate, a lifestyle magazine based in Portland. In 2013, he launched, a website that focuses on Northwest wine. He’s also the author of Essential Wines and Wineries of the Pacific Northwest, and he owns Pour the Passion, a wine marketing consulting business.

Ilene Dudunake, owner of A New Vintage Wine Shop in Meridian, Idaho. She opened the store in 2001 and is a regular on Boise-area radio shows talking about wine. She has been a judge at the Great Northwest Wine Competition and Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition, as well as the Idaho Wine Competition.

Don Elsing, wine director for Sun Mountain Lodge in Winthrop, Wash. At Sun Mountain Lodge, which is atop a mountain in the North Cascades, Elsing has built one of the strongest wine programs in the Pacific Northwest, including more than 400 Washington wines. His cellar has earned the resort awards from Wine Spectator, Wine Press Northwest and the Washington State Wine Commission. Elsing has judged the Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition and the North Central Washington Wine Awards.

Tina Hammond, co-owner and winemaker for Privé Vineyards in Newberg, Ore. Hammond and her husband, Mark, bought their vineyard in 1995 and launched their winery in 2001. There, she produces small lots of Pinot Noir each year. She also crafts small amounts of wines from warm-climate grapes, including Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, blends and fortifieds.

Kathryn House, winemaker, enologist, owner of House of Wine in Garden City, Idaho. House provides such services and winemaking consulting, laboratory testing and wine education. She earned a master of science degree in horticulture from Washington State University and has worked at such wineries as Betz Family Winery in Woodinville, Wash., and Seven Hills Winery and Pepper Bridge Winery in Walla Walla. She has taught winemaking courses at South Seattle Community College. She is currently working toward attaining the prestigious Master of Wine degree.

Dixie Huey, proprietor, Trellis Growth Partners in Camas, Wash. Huey operates this marketing and communications program for members of the Northwest wine industry. Trellis’ client list includes such organizations as the Horse Heaven Hills Winegrowers, as well as such Oregon and Washington wineries as Abacela, Kramer, Stoller, McKinley Springs, Ghost Hill and AntoLin.

Richard Larsen, research winemaker, Washington State University. Dr. Larsen works with faculty, staff and students at WSU in Prosser, Richland and Pullman, teaching how to make wine and how to identify issues and faults.

Janel Lubanski, media relations manager, Trellis Growth Partners. Lubanski works with Huey on promoting wine industry partners on the West Coast.

Ken McCabe, senior vice president of national accounts, Precept Wine in Seattle. McCabe works with wineries within the Precept family from Washington, Oregon and Idaho. He has been with the company since the 1990s.

Jeff Moore, proprietor/distributor, Amphora Wine Co. in Boise. Moore is a distributor who focuses on wines from the Pacific Northwest and around the world.

Scot Overturf, sommelier in Seattle. Overturf is a longtime wine expert, judge and writer in the greater Seattle market. He has written for publications around Washington for several years.

Stephen Reustle, winemaker, Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards, Roseburg, Ore. Reustle was one of the first growers and producers of Grüner-Veltliner in the United States and is well known for such wines as Tempranillo, Syrah, Pinot Noir and Riesling in Oregon’s Umpqua Valley.

Yashar Shayan, owner of Impulse Wines in Seattle. Shayan, a longtime Seattle area wine professional, launched Impulse Wines last year. It is an online wine retailer, and he specializes in procuring hard-to-find wines from the Northwest and throughout the world.

Patrick Spangler, winemaker, Spangler Vineyards in Roseburg, Ore. Spangler crafts a wide variety of wines using primarily Umpqua Valley grapes. He is well known for his blends, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Viognier and other wines.

Heather Unwin, executive director of the Red Mountain AVA Alliance. Unwin, a longtime wine expert, oversees one of the smallest and most exciting regions on the West Coast, the Red Mountain AVA in the eastern Yakima Valley.

Ron Washam, sommelier and writer from Healdsburg, Calif. Washam is a longtime sommelier who worked in the Los Angeles area before migrating to Northern California. He is well known for his award-winning wine blog, HoseMaster of Wine.

Jean Yates, president, Oregon Wine Marketing in Corvallis, Ore. It is unlikely that anyone has sold more Oregon wine than Yates, who owned Avalon Wine for decades before selling it last year and beginning a wine marketing company that focuses on helping wineries boost their sales, particularly through online efforts.

The competition concludes Thursday afternoon, at which time the results will be published. Gold medals will be announced immediately on Twitter (hashtag #greatnorthwestwine).

About Great Northwest Wine

Articles authored by Great Northwest Wine are co-authored by Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue. In most cases, these are wine reviews that are judged blind by the Great Northwest Wine tasting panel.

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