HOOD RIVER, Ore. – Twenty wine professionals have gathered in the heart of Pacific Northwest wine country to evaluate more than 550 wines for the third annual Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition.
The judging, which takes place at the historic Columbia Gorge Hotel, is unique in the United States, as it is the only competition in which the judges nominate the wines that will be evaluated.
This year’s judging, which begins this morning, includes 20 of the most influential wine professionals in the Northwest, including retailers, wholesalers, sommeliers, restaurateurs and writers.
The third annual Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition drew about 560 entries from nearly 200 wineries in Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Idaho.
At the inaugural Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition, which took place in 2013, the Seven Falls 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, a $15 red made by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, took the top prize. Last year, Wild Goose Vineyards’ 2012 God’s Mountain Vineyard Riesling from British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley won best of show.
The judging is conducted under blind conditions, meaning the judges know what variety or style of wine they are tasting but neither the producer nor the wine’s retail price.
Gold medals will be announced soon after they are awarded via Twitter (hashtag #greatnorthwestwine)
Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition judges
Each judge at the Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition is asked to nominate 100 wines from Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Idaho. All nominations are then compiled by the staff of Great Northwest Wine and sent to wineries. The wineries then choose if they would like to participate.
This year’s nominating judges for the Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition are:
- Naomi Boutz is manager and wine director of The Cellar at 317 Sherman in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
- Amberleigh Brownson is restaurant outlets manager for Semiahmoo Resort, Golf and Spa in Blaine, Wash.
- Dan Carr is co-owner and executive chef of Visconti’s Restaurants in Leavenworth and Wenatchee, Wash., and proprietor/director of operations for Cured by Visconti’s.
- Doug Charles is proprietor of Compass Wines in Anacortes, Wash.
- Ilene Dudunake owns A New Vintage Wine Shop near Boise, Idaho.
- Don Elsing is wine director of Sun Mountain Lodge in Winthrop, Wash.
- Shelly Fitzgerald is a buyer for Downtown Spirits in Seattle.
- Dave Holstrom owns Guy du Vin, a restaurant wine program consulting business in Portland.
- Chris Horn is the wine director for Seattle-based Heavy Restaurant Group and Purple Café & Wine Bar.
- Lane Hoss is the wine buyer and vice president of marketing for Anthony’s Restaurants.
- Erez Klein is the Pacific Northwest wine buyer for Whole Foods Market.
- Ellen Landis is a certified sommelier, former owner of Landis Shores Oceanfront Inn in Half Moon Bay, Calif., and renowned international wine judge.
- Jan McCartan is wine director and catering manager for the Best Western Plus Hood River (Ore.) Inn.
- Tim O’Brien is corporate director of beverage at Salty’s Restaurants.
- April Reddout is wine program manager of the Walter Clore Center in Prosser, Wash.
- Yashar Shayan is a certified sommelier and founder of the Seattle-based retailer ImpulseWine.com.
- Steve Sinkler is owner of The Wine Shack in Cannon Beach, Ore.
- Dave Smith is wine buyer for Everything Wine in Vancouver, British Columbia.
- Mark Takagi is specialty sales director of the Seattle-based Metropolitan Market group.
- Jean Yates is president of Oregon Wine Marketing.
- Paul Zitarelli is owner for Full Pull Wines in Seattle and wine writer for Seattle magazine.