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Northwest Wines
Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman
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March 1  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue Great Northwest Wine
Though we are still in the final throes of winter's feeble clutches, we begin to think about spring and the renewal of life that it brings forth.

We also think about getting out of the house and stocking up the cellar. But knowing that tax day is on the not-too-distant horizon, we still need to keep our budget in mind, so we focus this column on value wines.

In the past several years, the Northwest has honed its reputation on being a premium winemaking region,...

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February 22  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue Special to The Herald
Young winemaker makes most of American dream Victor Palencia's journey is the story of the American dream.

Born in 1985 in Michoacán, Mexico, Palencia emigrated to the United States when he was 2 years old. His father wanted a better life for his family and came to the Yakima Valley, where he picked up a shovel and began working in the region's mint fields. Eventually, the elder Palencia moved into orchard and vineyard work.

While most high schoolers fill their after-school hours participating in...

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February 15  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue
Lake Chelan continues to develop in north central Washington The history of wine grapes along the banks of Washington's Lake Chelan goes back to the 1880s, but that all but disappeared until the late 1990s, when a soft apple market had orchardists thinking about a new direction.

And thus the region's wine industry was reborn.

Today, Lake Chelan still is not a huge wine region, but it is growing — and most importantly, it is changing the economics of the community it surrounds.

About 20 wineries now dot...

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February 4  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue Special to The Herald
Pinot Noir drives Oregon wine industry When someone says, "Oregon wine," the automatic thought often is "Pinot Noir." This is because the noble red grape of France's Burgundy region drives everything about the Oregon wine industry.

A new economic impact report shows that Oregon wine is worth $3.3 billion a year to that state's bottom line, up from $2.7 billion in 2010. It's also responsible for more than 17,000 jobs, thanks to the state's 600-plus wineries and 950 vineyards.


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January 28  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue
Pepper Bridge Winery is a Walla Walla Valley star
It’s hard to remember a time when Pepper Bridge Winery wasn’t around and among the Walla Walla Valley’s top wineries.Yet Norm McKibben launched the operation in 1998, making it the 18th winery in the valley. He quickly brought in partner Ray Goff, a veteran of Anheuser-Busch, and they hired Swiss-born winemaker Jean-François Pellet, who later also became a partner.Pellet’s wines quickly gained acclaim as among the best and most collectible in Washington and beyond.

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January 21  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue Special to The Herald
NW wines shine on America's biggest stage CLOVERDALE, Calif. — America's largest wine competition grew even bigger, and Northwest wines continued to shine on the country's largest stage.

The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, which took place the first full week of January in this town in northern Sonoma County, drew a record 6,400 entries from 23 states, and about 60 wine professionals spent four days tasting, evaluating and rewarding each wine on its own merits.

Overall, wines from...

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January 14  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue
A few of our favorite wines from 2014
In 2014, we evaluated more than 5,000 wines, and sorting through our favorites has been a fun task.We recently unveiled our top 100 list on GreatNorthwestWine.com and decided to share a few of the top wines. All wines were tasted blind, meaning we didn’t know the producer or the price until the evaluation process was complete.Ask for these wines at your favorite wine merchant or contact the wineries directly.

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January 7  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue
Delicious whites from 15th annual Platinum Judging
Last week, we reviewed some of the top red wines from the 15th annual Platinum Judging, conducted by Wine Press Northwest magazine. This week, we take a look at some of the top white and dessert wines.

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December 31  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue Special to The Herald
Washington reds shine in Platinum Judging Every year for the past decade-and-a-half, Wine Press Northwest magazine has conducted a year-end competition. Called the Platinum Judging, it is meant to showcase some of the best wines in the Pacific Northwest.

To gain entry into the competition, a wine must have won a gold medal or better at a professionally judged wine competition somewhere in the world. This year, Northwest wineries earned more than 1,700 gold medals — with many winning multiple golds across...

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December 24  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue
Great reds for under the tree, on the table 
Christmas is coming, and that often means meals that are richer, more bold and more comforting — and this calls for red wines.During the holiday season, there are more opportunities to meet with friends and family during get-togethers, parties and dinners. The food served is often heartier, including roasted meats and vegetables, stews, casseroles, lasagna, ham and venison.

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December 17  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue
Woodinville’s Brian Carter excels with Washington blends
When Brian Carter decided to make his way back to the Pacific Northwest, Mount St. Helens had just erupted and there wasn’t much of a wine industry north of the Columbia River.But the Oregon native was determined to make his mark when he came to the Seattle area in 1980, and he has accomplished greatness in the decades since.

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December 10  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue
14 Hands a Washington wine phenomenon Think about this: A decade ago, 14 Hands Winery didn't exist.

Ste. Michelle Wine Estates created the brand in 2005 as a restaurant-only label. Consumer demand grew to the point that the company made it available for retail sales. Last year, Ste. Michelle converted Snoqualmie Winery's tasting room in the Yakima Valley town of Prosser to 14 Hands.

Today, 14 Hands Winery produces 2 million cases of wine annually, making it Washington's second-largest winery and...

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December 3  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue
Great value reds for the holiday season As we head into the holiday season, it’s always good to have a few bottles of red wine on hand for festivities, whether they be Christmas parties or New Year’s Eve celebrations.

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November 23  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue
Good, affordable wines for the holidays
As we head into the holiday season, we often find ourselves either attending festive events or putting them on ourselves.Thus it is always a good idea to have several bottles of wine on hand and, as such, to enjoy good quality at fair prices.During the past couple of months, we have tasted many wines that qualify as good values, costing $15 or less. Today, we take a look at a few white wines. Next week, we’ll dive into a number of reds.

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November 19  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue
Yakima Valley vineyard’s 100-year history
It’s a funny little vineyard that would barely qualify as a footnote in Washington wine history.But thanks to a friendly nudge from one of Washington’s true wine legends, Harrison Hill Vineyard near the Yakima Valley town of Sunnyside has received the recognition it deserves.Harrison Hill is owned by the Newhouse family, whose history with these 5.5 acres of vines goes back to the early 1970s. But grapes have been grown here for much, much longer.

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November 12  |  Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue
Columbia Gorge an exciting, dynamic wine region
One of the most excited but least understood Northwest wine regions is the Columbia Gorge.Officially the Columbia Gorge American Viticultural Area is a grape-growing region that crosses both sides of the Columbia River, surrounding the city of Hood River, Ore., and such towns as White Salmon and Bingen on the Washington side.But in reality, the region known as “the Gorge” extends from Troutdale, Ore., in the west to Goldendale in the east.

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November 5  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue
The best white wines from the Great NW Invite
In early October, we conducted the second annual Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition at the Columbia Gorge Hotel in Hood River, Oregon. For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been taking a look at the top red wines, and now we will review some of the white wines that earned gold medals.

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October 29  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue
The best reds from the Great NW Invitational
Last week, we announced the top wines from the second annual Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition, held in Hood River, Oregon. This week, we take a look at some of the top red wines from the judging.The Invite is the only wine competition in North America in which the judges — 16 influential wine professionals — nominate the wines they want to have entered in the competition.

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October 22  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue
Best wines from Great Northwest invite
The Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition, staged Oct. 8-9 at the historic Columbia Gorge Hotel in Hood River, Oregon, is the only judging in which wine professionals nominate and then evaluate the entries.For this competition, we gathered 16 influential wine professionals, including restaurateurs, retailers, wholesalers and writers. Each of them nominated up to 100 wines from Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Idaho, and more than 420 wines were entered.

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October 15  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue
Bombers and bombastic wines in Yakima Valley
What once was a World War II military training base in the Yakima Valley has evolved into a great vineyard site and provides grapes for one of the region’s best wineries.Airfield Estates is part of a four-generation farming family. Don Miller, the family’s second generation in the valley, began planting wine grapes in 1968 on the advice of Walter Clore, a Washington State University researcher known as “the father of Washington wine.”

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October 8  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue
Idaho is gaining a reputation as a burgeoning wine region Idaho has long been considered an agricultural haven, known for growing crops such as onions, corn, apples, cherries, peaches and, yes, potatoes.

Now, the Gem State is gaining a reputation as a burgeoning wine region.

Grapes have been grown in Idaho for more than a century, but the modern wine industry began in the 1970s with the launch of Ste. Chapelle — still Idaho's largest producer.

Now Idaho is home to more than 50 wineries that stretch...

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October 1  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue
Yakima’s revered Mercer family making noise in wine industry
One of Washington’s most revered farming families is making its mark in the wine industry.The Mercers arrived in the Yakima Valley in the 1880s and have been working the soil ever since. The Mercer family’s history in the wine industry goes back to 1972, when Don Mercer planted the first wine grapes in the Horse Heaven Hills south of the Yakima Valley. He planted Cabernet Sauvignon and called it Mercer Ranch Vineyards.

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September 24  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue
Trying to keep up with the Joneses
In the arid Columbia Basin, a winery is crafting beautiful and affordable wines from some of the warmest and coolest regions in Washington wine country.As a result, few are able to keep up with the Joneses.

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September 17  |  By Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman
Chateau St. Michelle continues to shine Running the Northwest's largest winery is daunting. Simultaneously crafting some of our region's best wines is downright difficult.

That's what Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville manages to do year after year, and its latest releases show no signs of cutting corners in quality as it continues to grow in size.

Chateau Ste. Michelle is Washington's flagship winery. Its roots run deep, going back to the repeal of Prohibition. In 1934, two wineries —...

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September 10  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue
North Central Washington wine country thriving North Central Washington is the state's original wine country, and now it is making a strong case for being a significant region once again.In 1874, John Galler opened Washington's first winery in east Wenatchee. It stayed open until 1910. A year later, Philip Miller opened the state's second winery across the Columbia River in Wenatchee.Since Prohibition, however, North Central Washington has focused more on other agricultural pursuits. But in the past 15 years in...

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