WALLA WALLA, Wash. – A wine competition that helps pay for the education of Washington’s next generation of winemakers is today as the fourth annual Walla Walla Valley Wine Competition will be staged at Walla Walla Community College.
Proceeds from the competition, which is operated by Great Northwest Wine, help fund scholarships at the vaunted enology and viticulture program at Walla Walla Community College.
Walla Walla Vintners, one of the valley’s oldest producers and named the 2016 Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year by Wine Press Northwest magazine, has produced the best of show the previous two years. Last year, it won for its 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon. In 2014, it won for its 2012 Cabernet Franc.
In 2013, Balboa Winery won the inaugural Walla Walla Valley Wine Competition with its 2010 Syrah.
Wineries located in the Walla Walla Valley eligible to enter the competition. The wines may contain grapes from any American Viticultural Area in the Northwest.
- Here are results of the 2015 competition.
- Here are results of the 2014 competition.
- Here are results of the 2013 competition.
All wines are tasted blind, meaning the judges do not know whose wines they are tasting or what the prices are until after the competition is completed. Medals are awarded based on merit, with wines winning gold, silver or bronze medals. If all five judges agree that a wine is gold, then it is awarded a rare unanimous double gold medal.
Results of the competition will be released Monday.
This year’s judges are:
- April Reddout, wine program director for the Walter Clore Wine & Culinary Center in Prosser. Reddout regularly judges competitions across the Pacific Northwest, including the Cascadia Wine Competition, the Platinum Judging, the Great Northwest Invitational Wine competition and Savor NW.
- Hank Sauer, a Walla Walla native, is master facilitator for Great Northwest Wine and a longtime wine educator who teaches seminars throughout the Pacific Northwest. He is a frequent judge and also helps coordinate competitions with Great Northwest Wine.
- Mike Rader, a financial consultant in Kennewick, is a member of Great Northwest Wine’s tasting panel and can often be found running the backroom at such events as the Cascadia Wine Competition, the Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition and the Platinum Judging.
- Paul Sinclair is a retired middle school teacher who is a longtime volunteer for Great Northwest Wine and Wine Press Northwest magazine. He can be found either judging regional wine competitions or helping to pour wines at them.
- Ken Robertson is a member of Great Northwest Wine’s tasting panel and is a wine columnist for Wine Press Northwest magazine. Robertson is the retired executive editor of the Tri-City Herald and has been writing about wine since the 1970s. He judges wine competitions throughout the Pacific Northwest and serves as chief judge at two international tastings – the Cascadia Wine Competition and the Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition.
Busy week in Walla Walla Valley
In addition to the Walla Walla Valley Wine Competition, the valley also will play host to the fourth annual Celebrate Walla Walla event this week.
This year’s Celebrate Walla Walla focuses on Cabernet Sauvignon from the Walla Walla Valley, as well as Napa Valley, Chile and Bordeaux. Celebrate begins Thursday and concludes Saturday with winemaker dinners throughout the valley.
Thursday, June 16: Celebrate Walla Walla kicks off with Vintage Pour from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Canoe Ridge Vineyard. Wineries from the Walla Walla Valley will pour wines from the 2009 vintage or earlier. Appetizers will be provided by chef Jake Crenshaw of Olive Marketplace and Café in downtown Walla Walla. Tickets are $75.
Friday, June 17: The day kicks off with Master Sommelier Thomas Burke and Master of Wine/Master Sommelier Doug Frost providing their insights into Cabernet Sauvignon at the Gesa Power House Theater in Walla Walla. Burke represents prestigious Bordeaux First Growth Chateau Margaux, and Frost is a wine consultant based in Kansas City. This will take place from 8:30 to 10 a.m. It is complimentary.
At the Marcus Whitman Hotel, a panel of six winemakers will taste and discuss Cabernet Sauvignon from the Walla Walla Valley, Bordeaux, Napa Valley and Chile. The panel will include:
- John Freeman of Waterbrook Winery in Walla Walla.
- Chuck Reininger of Reininger Winery in Walla Walla.
- Gordy Venneri of Walla Walla Vintners in Walla Walla.
- Burke of Chateau Margaux in Bordeaux, France.
- Thomas Rivers Brown of Rivers-Marie in Napa Valley, Calif.
- Patrick Valette of VIK in Millahue, Chile.
Each will pour wines from their respective properties.
“What an amazing panel we have lined up for this year’s event,” said Duane Wollmuth, executive director of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance. “Participants are in for a real treat to learn about and taste Cabernet Sauvignon from such prominent wineries.”
The panel will start off with a discussion by geologist Kevin Pogue of Whitman College in Walla Walla. It will be moderated by Andy Perdue, editor and publisher of Great Northwest Wine and wine columnist for The Seattle Times. It takes place from 3 to 5 p.m. Tickets are $55.
A Cabernet Sauvignon wine tasting and dinner will take place Friday evening at Whitman College. It will include cuisine from Scott Mason of Ketchum Grill, Enoteca and Town Square Tavern in Ketchum, Idaho; Andrae Bopp of Andrae’s Kitchen in Walla Walla; and Jim Cooley of Whitman College’s Bon Appétit. Each dinner table will be led by a Walla Walla winemaker who will select the wines for that table. The dinner runs from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $95.
Saturday, June 18: Celebrate Walla Walla wraps up with intimate winemaker dinners throughout the valley from 6 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $125.
Sponsors for Celebrate Walla Walla include Wine & Spirits magazine, Trysk Print Solutions, Banner Bank and Visit Walla Walla.
Tickets may be purchased online at www.celebratewallawalla.com.
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