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2015 Washington State Wine Awards Winners


Congratulations to this years Washington State Wine Awards Winners!

Last week I was in Seattle for the 2015 Washington State Wine Awards. My first time attending this event was two years ago at McCaw Hall.

The Washington State Wine Awards (formerly known as Washington Wine Restaurant Awards) was established in 2002 to recognize leaders throughout the wine industry that exhibit strong support of Washington wines and high professional standards in wine service.

Monday, January 26th on a beautiful, warm, sunny afternoon I headed out to the awards ceremony. When I attend wine events in Seattle, I often stay with a friend in Belltown. It's a good location and I enjoy the view of the Space Needle out the window. Most wine venues I attend are within walking distance. Remembering where the 2013 awards ceremony was held, I confidently headed out to the Seattle Center and McCaw Hall, thoughts of wine tasting and wine conversation on my mind.

This event is a wine industry oriented event. The people who attend are from wineries, restaurants, grocery stores, wine shops, distributors, importers, media and marketing. It's an interesting mix of professions and personalities I don't usually mingle with, I was eager to meet and mix. And I was looking forward to re-connecting with fellow New Zealand wine blogger Juli of Kiwi Daydreaming. We started the New Zealand wine blog in 2012 because we are both huge fans.

Juli Crompe, Kiwi Daydreaming.

Going at a casual pace, I arrived at McCaw Hall with plenty of time, and only gently warm. It was already over 60 degrees and warming up. Walking up the steps to the entrance, I noticed that the place was deserted. Sinking feeling as I hunted for my event registration. If you attended the award ceremonies last year, I did not, then you already know that I was at the wrong location. Last year, and this year, the event was held at Benaroya Hall, Samuel & Althea Stroum Grand Lobby. Which I learned is downtown on the corner of University and 2nd Avenue. I also learned that the web browser I was using on my phone did not work with Google maps. Great.

Eventually I found the address and location of Benaroya Hall. My pace was quickened as I hustled, no longer leisurely, past construction, cross walks, and outstretched hands. By the time I arrived at the correct address I was no longer calm and composed. Uncomfortably hot, perspiring and a bit out of focus I gathered myself and my camera. I should mention that I had a new lens on my camera. It was the first time I used it at an event. While it gave me the flexibility to stand a little closer and to capture more of the view, the constantly shifting light proved challenging.


The first hour I sipped only chilled white wine as I wandered around the beautiful lobby bathed in light. Benaroya Hall is the home of the Seattle Symphony in Downtown Seattle, Washington. It occupies an entire city block in the center of the city and has helped double the Seattle Symphony's budget and number of performances. Yes, added to my ever growing list.

Two levels accommodated more than 50 Washington wineries and guests.
I've mentioned to friends that I don't enjoy crowds after some bad crowd/crush experiences. With relief, I enjoyed the layout and flow at this venue. No crush, no rush, it was an open, comfortable and civilized event. Below are photos and mentions of some of the wineries I visited with. But first, here are the 2015 award winners.

Award Winners

A judging panel comprised of growers, wine producers, and influential members of the Washington State wine industry evaluates the nominees; individuals, restaurants, and organizations are judged on a variety of criteria to determine award winners.

Award winners are exemplary individuals and businesses that champion Washington State wines and the local wine industry. They help spread the word that Washington has a reputation for premium wines with superior quality across a range of varietals and distinctive character exhibiting a unique balance of the Old World and New World. They are chosen for their menus, innovative educational programs and marketing efforts, and commitment to excellent service. They perform a vital role in shaping Washington State as a favored home and destination for those who enjoy outstanding wines.

(R) Yashar Shayan, Full Pull Wines, Retailer of the Year with (L) Vigneron Damon LaLonde.

  • Restaurant of the Year: Aqua by El Gaucho
  • Independent Restaurant of the Year: Cypress Lounge & Wine Bar @ The Westin Bellevue
  • Restaurant Group of the Year: Anthony’s Restaurants
  • Sommelier of the Year: Chris Horn (Purple Cafè & Wine Bar)
  • Best Event Featuring Washington State Wine: Washington Wine Extravaganza – Wine World & Spirits
  • Retailer of the Year: Full Pull Wines
  • Independent Retailer of the Year:
  • Retailer Chain of the Year: Costco Wholesale
  • Retail Steward of the Year: Carly Little (QFC, Bellevue Village)
  • Hotel of the Year: Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center
  • Tourism Champion of the Year: Yakima Valley Tourism
  • Tourism Concierge of the Year: Dan Salvatora (Hotel Monaco)
  • Distributor of the Year: Young’s Market Company
  • Distributor Salesperson of the Year: Walid Akiki (Young’s Market Company)
  • Walter Clore Honorarium: Dan McCarthy (McCarthy & Schiering)*

*The Walter Clore Honorarium recognizes an individual who has demonstrated dedication to the advancement of the Washington wine industry.

Washington Wineries Tasting Reception

Sunshine from a wall of glass.
Sipping wine, I passed by many familiar wineries and faces. I made an effort to speak with the wineries I did not know. Always a bit overwhelming at first, once my core temperature cooled, I relaxed and switched to red wine and more conversations. As much as I wanted, there was not enough time or mental energy to visit with every winery. Apologies to those I missed.

Amy and Josh Stottlemeyer, Stottle Winery.
Stottle Winery & Tasting Room
2641 Willamette Dr NE,  Suite C
Lacey, WA 98516
Matt Rawn, 2 Mountain Winery. 
Two Mountain Winery
2151 Cheyne Rd  Zillah, WA 98953
(509) 829-3900

Darel Allwine, Winemaker Col Solare.
Col Solare Winery
50207 Antinori Road
Benton City, WA, USA 99320
phone: 509-588-6806

Cave B Estate Winemaker, Alfredo "Freddy" Arredondo.
Cave B Estate Winery
348 Silica Road Northwest, Quincy, WA 98848
Phone:(509) 785-3500

Bart Fawbush, Bartholomew Winery,
Bartholomew Winery
3100 Airport Way South, Seattle, WA 98134
Phone:(206) 395-8460

Jen Armstrong, Armstrong Family Winery.
Armstrong Family Winery
19151 144th Ave. NE, Ste. I
Woodinville, WA 98072
Phone: 425-487-8000

Waitsburg Cellars.
Waitsburg Cellars

Ross Andrew Winery.
Ross Andrew Winery
In the process of looking for a new tasting room.  You will find some of their wines poured at the Browne Family Vineyards and Associated Vintners Tasting Room on main street, directly across from the Starbucks and Mark Ryan Winery in Walla Walla, Washington.

Browne Family Vineyards.
Browne Family Vineyards
31 East Main Street
Walla Walla, Washington 99362
TELEPHONE: (509) 522-1261

While I started with white wine to help me cool down, I find it interesting that the only bottle shots I took were of red wines. Well worth your effort to track down these select bottles. I should also point out that while Castillo de Feliciana Vineyard and Winery is located in Eastern Oregon, it is still within the Walla Walla AVA and therefore included at this venue.

Dusted Valley Petite Syrah.
Dusted Valley Vintners
1248 Old Milton Highway, Walla Walla, WA 99362
Phone:(509) 525-1337

Castillo de Feliciana Tempranillo.
Castillo de Feliciana Vineyard and Winery
85728 Telephone Pole Road, Milton-Freewater, OR 97862
Phone:(541) 558-3656

Kennedy Shah Syrah.
The Woodhouse Wine Estates
15500 Woodinville Redmond RD NE, Suite C600
Woodinville, WA 98072
Phone: 425.527.0608

The promotion of Washington Wine is the reason I started Wild 4 Washington Wine. Bravo to everyone nominated and awarded this year. Thank you for paying attention and providing quality service while promoting Washington Wine.

Next time I promise myself to double-check the event location. Before I leave.

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