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Northwest Wines
Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman
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April 13  |  
Great Northwest Wine competition picks best of the best After evaluating 916 wines from Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Idaho, 20 professional wine judges deemed a red blend from a Walla Walla Valley winery as the top wine of the second annual Great Northwest Wine Competition.

The judging, held April 2-3 at the Columbia Gorge Hotel in Hood River, Ore., is among the largest competitions of Pacific Northwest wines. All the wines were evaluated blind, meaning the judges knew what kind of wine they were tasting but not...

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April 6  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue Great Northwest Wine
Grenache a red wine with a bright future in Washington A wine grape famous in France and Spain long has been grown in Washington but has caught on as an important variety only during the past several years.

Grenache is a late-ripening red variety that thrives in hot climates, such as the Rhone Valley in southern France, Spain (where it’s known as garnacha), California and Eastern Washington’s Columbia Valley.

As a standalone wine, grenache tends to be lighter in color and exhibits bright red flavors...

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April 4  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue GreatNorthwestWine.com
HOOD RIVER, Ore. — Saviah Cellars in Walla Walla, earned best in show Thursday at the second annual Great Northwest Wine Competition, winning for a red blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre from one of the top vineyards in the Rattlesnake Hills.

Owner/winemaker Rich Funk's 2011 Elephant Mountain Vineyard G.S.M. took top honors out of 916 wines evaluated over two days at the Columbia Gorge Hotel in this Columbia Gorge town. Elephant Mountain, owned and farmed...

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March 30  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue GreatNorthwestWine.com
Petite sirah a robust red catching on in Northwest
One of the most robust red wines you’re likely to run across is petite sirah.Grown primarily in California, petite sirah is a French variety that is a cross of syrah and reloursin, an obscure grape. It was discovered in the 1860s by botanist François Durif, a botanist, and the grape can go by petite sirah or “Durif.”

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March 23  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue Great Northwest Wine
Standout choices among Rhone-style red blends One of the hottest categories in Northwest wine is red blends. And red blends made in the style of France's Rhone Valley are among the most fascinating.

Referred to as "GSM" blends, the wines are most often made with the red Rhone grapes Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre, though they also can include Cinsault, Counoise, Carignan and Petite Sirah.

In the spring issue of Wine Press Northwest magazine, we take a look at a variety of red Rhone varieties, particularly...

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March 16  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue
White wines have a vital role in Washington The recent U.S. Department of Agriculture report on Washington’s 2013 harvest shows that for the second consecutive year, state winemakers crushed more red grapes than white.

Before 2012, Washington had never crushed more red grapes than white. And despite this trend, white wines play a vital role in Washington, with Chardonnay and Riesling the No. 2 and No. 3 grapes in the state.

And Washington whites can be superb, from rich Chardonnays to racy...

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March 9  |  By Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman
Brawny Cab pushes to top of state's wine industry For the first time in Washington's history, Cabernet Sauvignon is king.

Last fall, the state crushed a record 210,000 tons of wine grapes, of which 42,600 were Cabernet Sauvignon. That makes the suave red grape not only the most prolific variety in Washington, but also the most economically important, as it brings in $1,440 per ton to the farmers who grow it.

Wine drinkers and winemakers have an insatiable thirst for Cabernet Sauvignon, as the variety has...

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March 2  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue
Savor a bit of history with your Whidbey’s Port One of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates’ smallest-production wines has a history that goes back to its earliest days as a company.

For the past 30 years, one of the company’s little-known projects has been a red dessert wine called Whidbey’s Port. But its roots run much deeper.

Soon after Prohibition was repealed in late 1933, two wineries started in Seattle: National Wine Co. and Pommerelle. One of Pommerelle’s founders was John Molz, a...

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February 23  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue
Zinfandel is Angel Vine winemaker’s first love When Ed Fus arrived in Oregon in 1997, he was intent on getting into the wine industry. His path ended up being a little different than most.

By 2001, the Penn State grad found a cherry orchard in the Eola-Amity Hills. After clearing the blackberry bushes, he planted Pinot Noir. But his first love was Zinfandel, something you don’t find much of in Oregon. So Fus looked north when he decided to launch Angel Vine.

But Washington, while it has a warmer...

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February 16  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue
Suave Pinot Noir is a favorite of Oregon wineries Nobody in the New World has hung their hats on Pinot Noir more than Oregon, which began planting the persnickety red grape of Burgundy, France, in the late 1960s.

Today, Oregon has nearly 14,000 acres of Pinot Noir planted, primarily in the northern Willamette Valley. It makes up more than 55 percent of the state’s wine grapes. By comparison, California has nearly 40,000 acres of Pinot Noir, but it makes up only 8 percent of the state’s wine grapes.


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February 9  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue
12 outstanding wines to toast the Seahawks’ victory Your Seattle Seahawks are on top of the sports world, vanquishing the AFC champion Denver Broncos. What better way for the 12th Man to celebrate than with 12 great Washington wines?

We have selected a dozen wines that have earned our top "Outstanding" rating during January, when the Super Bowl champs were making their run through the postseason.

Ask for them at your favorite wine merchant or contact the wineries directly to find them.


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February 2  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue
Better days ahead for Columbia Winery Columbia Winery has had a trying dozen years. The longtime Washington winery has changed hands three times since 2001 and now looks like it will enjoy some much-needed stability.

In mid-2012, E&J Gallo of Modesto, Calif., purchased Columbia Winery from Ascentia, a wine company that's no longer in business. Ascentia had purchased it from Constellation Brands of New York in 2008, which bought it from Corus Brands (now Precept Wine) in Seattle in 2001.


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January 29  |  By Andy Perdue, Great Northwest Wine
Vintner dabbles in hard cider, finds success quickly All he wanted to do was make a beverage his wife would like. Now Daniel Washam has a tiger by the tail -- and he isn't sure where it will lead.

Washam, who owns Sun River Vintners in Kennewick, decided to try making a hard cider last year, just a little something sweet and carbonated that he and his wife might enjoy at home. What he came up with tasted really good, so he took a bottle to work to share with co-workers.

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January 26  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue
8 outstanding red wines that sell for $15 or less If your resolutions for a better 2014 include saving money and drinking more wine, then read on.

As Washington grows and solidifies its position as the country's No. 2 wine-producing state while increasing quality, more of the value-priced red wines keep providing incredible quality.

The only problem might be finding those values, as growing grapes and making wine are becoming more expensive. Fortunately, we can rely on several wineries to offer red wines in...

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January 19  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue, Great Northwest Wines
Northwest wineries impress at national competition North America's largest wine competition is in the books, and Northwest wines showed their mettle with lots of medals.

The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, held in the northern Sonoma County town of Cloverdale, Calif., drew a record 5,825 entries from more than 1,500 wineries across 25 states.This makes it the largest judging of American wines, and the biggest wine competition held on the continent.

Barnard Griffin Winery in Richland brought home one...

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January 17  |  By Eric Degerman, Great Northwest Wine
WALLA WALLA, Wash. — Walla Walla winemaker Trey Busch and wine country chef Andrae Bopp scored tickets to the Seattle Seahawks playoff game Sunday, but they didn’t have to pay a dime for them.

Instead, they posted on Facebook their offer to stage a winemaker dinner for eight people — anywhere in the Pacific Northwest — in exchange for two seats to the NFC Championship Game at CenturyLink Field. In less than 48 hours, they...

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January 12  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue
White wines lead the way at 14th Platinum Judging In Wine Press Northwest magazine's 14th annual Platinum Judging, white wines led the way, with the top two wines in the competition being a Chenin Blanc from Washington and a white blend from British Columbia.

The judging is a year-end, best-of-the-best competition that is open to Pacific Northwest wines that have earned a gold medal in any of about 35 competitions we track throughout the year.

The 14th Platinum Judging drew a record 634 entries from...

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January 5  |  
These reds are among the best of the best Each year, Wine Press Northwest magazine conducts its Platinum Judging -- "the best of the best in the Great Northwest" -- in which Northwest wineries are invited to submit wines that have won gold medals during the year.

The 14th annual competition drew a record 634 entries from Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Idaho. From these, 26 wines earned unanimous Double Platinum awards, and another 125 were awarded Platinum status.

This week and next, we will...

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December 29  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue
Port's perfect for cold winter nights Is there any better way to warm up on a cold winter's night than with a glass of Port?

The sweet, high-alcohol wine might just be the perfect wine when snow is swirling and you want to do nothing more than sink into a comfortable chair in front of the fireplace.

Port originates in the Douro Valley of Portugal, and the tradition of creating the dessert wines goes back more than 300 years.

The wine is made by fermenting wine until brandy or another...

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December 22  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue
Holiday season is sparkling wine’s time to shine Perhaps the most versatile of food-pairing wines is bubbly. This is especially true during the holidays, when we are thinking about how to celebrate life and the year that has just passed.

Thanks to its brightness because of the bubbles and acidity, sparkling wine can really work with most types of cuisine.

"The nice thing about sparkling wine is you almost can't go wrong," said Juergen Grieb, owner and winemaker at Treveri Cellars, a young Yakima Valley winery...

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December 15  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue
11 books wine lovers will enjoy Generally speaking, wine lovers enjoy receiving two things for Christmas: gadgets and books.

Books are knowledge, and that is what we crave most. Here are 11 books published this year, any of which would make a superb gift for the wine lover on your Christmas list.

"Extreme Wine," $25: Mike Veseth, a retired University of Puget Sound economics professor, follows up his popular "Wine Wars" (2011), with this look at "the best, the worst, the...

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December 8  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue
In the hills south of the Yakima Valley town of Prosser is one of Washington's finest small wine producers.

The husband-and-wife team of Gord Taylor and Joan Davenport runs Daven Lore Winery.

Taylor, rarely seen without his Australian Outback hat, is the talented winemaker, while Davenport, who works at Washington State University's Irrigated Agriculture Research & Extension Center in Prosser, is known in the valley as "Dr. Dirt" because of her work in...

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December 1  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue
New edition of ‘Wine Trails’ is a 608-page wonder A lot has changed in the Washington wine industry in the past five years.

Nobody knows that better than Steve Roberts, author of the wildly successful "Wine Trails of Washington" guidebook.

"The biggest question I began to get was, 'When are you going to come out with an update?' " Roberts said. "It took nearly two years to update the original."

Roberts' second edition, a 608-page wonder, is now available at bookstores, wineries, Costco and...

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November 24  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue
15 gold-medal winners from Great Northwest Invitational Last week, we took at look at the top wines at this month's inaugural Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition. This week, we put the spotlight on the 15 gold-medal winners.

The competition was unusual because the 12 judges, all influential Northwest wine professionals, nominated the wines they wanted judged. Typically, wineries may enter any wine they wish. The judging was staged at the Columbia Gorge Hotel in Hood River, Ore.

Here are the gold medal...

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November 17  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue
The top award winners at invitation competition A new wine competition that takes a different approach has revealed some fascinating results.

The inaugural Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition took place the first full week of November at the historic Columbia Gorge Hotel in Hood River, Ore. While most wine competitions are open to any winery that chooses to enter any wine it wants, the Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition took a different twist.

We invited a dozen top wine professionals...

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November 13  |  By Andy Perdue, Great Northwest Wine
One of Napa Valley's premier wineries is coming to Washington.

Duckhorn Vineyards in St. Helena, Calif., will launch a Cabernet Sauvignon-focused winery using grapes from Red Mountain. Carol Reber, chief marketing and business development officer for Duckhorn, said it will release its first wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon from the 2012 vintage, around Labor Day 2014.

"We are a little less than a year away from our...

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November 10  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue, Great Northwest Wines
Thanksgiving is no time to sweat about what wines to open.

Our strategy is simple: Open a lot of bottles, spread them around the table, then let your guests figure out what they want to drink. The food is the focus of this meal, particularly the turkey, so look for wines that are reasonably priced and flavorful to fill your Thanksgiving table.

We do like to include sparkling wine, along with Riesling, Pinot Noir and a dessert wine, then we fill in a few more,...

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November 7  |  By Andy Perdue, Great Northwest Wine
Winners of Northwest wine competition HOOD RIVER, Ore. — A wine available primarily at restaurants won best in show at the inaugural Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition.

The Seven Falls 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Wahluke Slope in Washington earned top honors at the competition. It is a $15 wine that is made by Doug Gore, a senior executive at Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and former head winemaker at Columbia Crest. The wine is available primarily on restaurant wine...

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November 3  |  By Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman
Primitivo, Zinfandel's roots go back 8,000 years Evidence would indicate that Croatia could be the cradle of wine grapes, with cultivation of "vitis vinifera" dating back some 8,000 years. Perhaps Croatia's greatest contribution to wines we enjoy today is Zinfandel.

Or is it Primitivo? There is some question about the difference between the two red grapes.

In fact, experts now believe Zinfandel and Primitivo are clones of an obscure Croatian grape called Crljenak Kastelanski. In the vineyard, Zin and...

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October 27  |  By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue
William Church winemaker finds his way with reds With his sixth harvest complete, winemaker Marcus Rafanelli believes he's gaining a greater understanding of Washington grapes.

Rafanelli joined William Church Winery in July 2008 after graduating from Walla Walla Community College's winemaking program. Today, he makes 2,800 cases for William Church owners Rod and Leslie Balsley, and his reds are now just as strong as the Viognier that has been his signature wine.

"As I've gained experience, it's been easier to...

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