Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards Syrah best in New World

By on October 17, 2015
Australian wine writer Huon Hooke (right) presents to Stephen Reustle the trophy for best syrah at the Six Nations Cup. (Photo courtesy of Stephen Reustle.)

Australian wine writer Huon Hooke, right, presents Stephen Reustle with the trophy for best Syrah at the 2015 Six Nations Wine Challenge. (Photo courtesy of Stephen Reustle.)

ROSEBURG, Ore. – Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards captured the prize for best New World Syrah at the recent Six Nations Wine Challenge.

The 8,000-case winery operated by founding winemaker Stephen Reustle beat out hand-selected Syrahs from six New World regions, including the United States, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Chile and Argentina.

The Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards 2012 Masada Bloc Syrah was the No. 1 wine out of 52 Syrahs judged. Reustle also won for a double gold for its 2012 Winemaker’s Reserve Syrah.

“I felt as though I was representing not only my winery, but also the Umpqua Valley, Southern Oregon and the Pacific Northwest,” Reustle told Great Northwest Wine. “It’s a huge honor. In some ways, this is a little bit like the 1976 Judgment of Paris, which later was made into the movie Bottle Shock.”

6 Nations judging provides New World perspective

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Association of Australian Boutique Winemakers Inc. (Photo courtesy of Stephen Reustle)

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Association of Australian Boutique Winemakers. (Photo courtesy of Stephen Reustle)

The Six Nations Wine Challenge takes place in Australia and includes 100 wines from each of the six wine-producing countries involved. Each of the 100 wines is hand-selected by a representative of that country, then all 600 wines are evaluated in Sydney over multiple days by the judges.

The wines are divided into 17 classes, and each judge may select up to 10 wines from any single class.

“This is the only competition in the world where the wines are individually invited by the judges and then all judged together as the best of the best in the New World of wine,” said Judith Kennedy, president of the Six Nations Wine Challenge, in a news release.

Dan Berger, a longtime wine writer and international wine judge based in Santa Rosa, Calif., is the representative from the United States and selected the Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards wine. The competition began in 2003 with the Tri-Nations Wine Challenge and expanded eight years later to feature five countries. In 2013, the competition committee added the United States and appointed Berger to serve as the American judge. He has nominated wines from Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards each year.

“Reustle has shown exemplary consistency in a cool-climate style,” Berger said in a news release. “It has been obvious from the start that Stephen has a very special place for Syrah.”

Bob Campbell, a Master of Wine and the nominating judge for New Zealand, said in the news release, “Because the wines are all selected by each of the judges, the standard of wine quality must surely be higher than any other competition of this size in the world.”

Reustle noted, “This also serves as yet another example to the rest of the world that Oregon can shine with varietals other than Pinot Noir.”

Top wines feted at 2 Sydney events

The trophy presentation dinner was staged Oct. 7 at Manjits @ The Wharf, a restaurant overlooking Sydney Harbour in New South Wales. (Photo courtesy of Stephen Reustle)

The trophy presentation dinner was staged Oct. 7 at Manjits at The Wharf, a restaurant overlooking Sydney Harbour in New South Wales. (Photo courtesy of Stephen Reustle)

The guest list for the Oct. 7 presentation trophy dinner in Sydney at Manjit’s at The Wharf . It was a black-tie event including ambassadors and consuls general representing each country.

A night later, the Association of Australian Boutique Winemakers staged a public event called “The Thinkers & Drinkers.” More than 500 guests attended the tasting in the Doltone House at Jones Bay Wharf Pyrmont in Sydney.

Reustle said he held off on sharing news of the awards with his wine club members and supporters until after President Obama’s visit to Roseburg in the aftermath of the Umpqua Community College massacre.

“The timing wasn’t appropriate, so we waited until after the president’s visit,” Reustle said. “Our community is still recovering from this horrible tragedy.”

Second time a winner for Northwest

Maryhill Winery

Maryhill Winery in Goldendale, Wash., won a trophy for red blends at the 2013 Six Nations Wine Challenge, making it the only winery in Washington to earn the award. (Photo by Andy Perdue/Great Northwest Wine)

This is not the first time a Pacific Northwest wine has won such prestige at the Six Nations Wine Challenge.

In 2013 – the first year the United States competed in the competition – America won five trophies. Among them was Maryhill Winery‘s 2011 Winemaker’s Red, an affordable wine that won for non-Bordeaux red blends.

In 2014, Maryhill Winery’s 2012 Winemaker’s Red nearly repeated the feat, winning a double gold medal but losing the trophy to a red blend from famed Wolf Blass in Australia. In the same class, Coyote Canyon Winery in Prosser, Wash., won a gold medal for its 2011 Tres Cruces red blend.

Also in the 2014 competition, Chateau Ste. Michelle won a double gold medal for its 2011 Canoe Ridge Estate Merlot from the Horse Heaven Hills of Washington. It also won gold medals for its 2012 Eroica Riesling and 2011 Indian Wells Cabernet Sauvignon.

And in this year’s competition, Chateau Ste. Michelle won a double gold for its 2013 Eroica Riesling, nearly winning the Riesling trophy. Ste. Michelle also won a double gold for its 2013 Dry Riesling.

Maryhill Winery won a gold for its 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon. Maryhill also won a gold for its 2013 Winemaker’s Red.

Alexandria Nicole Cellars‘ 2012 Mr. Big Petite Sirah also won a gold.

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.


  1. […] Award-winning Syrah producer Stephen Reustle first gained fame for his pioneering work in the United States with the Austria white grape Grüner Veltliner, so it’s no surprise for him to earn acclaim with Riesling. He farms four clones — 02, 09, 12 and 239 — across his Prayer Rock and Romancing Rock vineyards, and the 3.5 acres of plantings provide some scale to his Riesling program. The nose offers fruity hints of peach, Asian pear, honeydew melon, plantain and kiwi fruit along with clove and pleasing fumes of petrol that should develop further with aging. On the palate, there’s a good blast of early acidity in green apple and pear flavors. It follows with a kiss of sweet kiwi before the fascinating finish of minerality and lemon zest. The Reustles suggest presenting this with a wedge of Gouda cheese or alongside dishes with a heritage of Mexico, India and Thailand. […]

  2. […] honor with his work with the red Rhône variety when his 2012 Masada Bloc bottling topped the Six Nations Wine Challenge in Australia. This young release flashes purple fruit aromas of blueberry, plum and elderberry […]

  3. […] in 2015 was Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards‘ Syrah. The 2012 was the No. 1 Syrah in the world at the Six Nations Wine Challenge in Australia, and he thinks the 2013 is even […]

  4. […] The highlight was when Reustle’s 2012 Masada Bloc Syrah was deemed best New World Syrah at the Six Nations Wine Challenge in Australia. […]

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