|Woodinville wines receive Golden Grapes Awards|
|Written by Deborah Stone|
|Monday, 07 March 2011 17:04|
Contests and competitions aimed at honoring the best wines within the region abound.
Now there’s a new one – the Golden Grapes Awards. They’re unique in that they focus on wines made here in Woodinville, and more importantly, the judges are the winemakers themselves.
There is no all-knowing critic or body of outside experts — just winemakers getting together to honor and pay accolades to one another.
This is the first year for the event, according to Matt Davis, restaurant and wine manager at Willows Lodge and one of the competition’s initiators.
"We had a brainstorming session here at Willows," explains Davis, "where we talked about how we could partner with winemakers and involve the community in the process. We already have the Iron Vintners, which has been a very successful event for us, but it’s in June and we wanted to add another event at a different time of the year."
He adds, "There are many great award programs in Washington, but the judges are always an outside panel. We thought it would be a great idea to let the winemakers be the judges."
Davis notes that 42 wineries in Woodinville were invited to attend. Of those, 32 participated, providing 88 entries for the following six categories: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux Style Blends, Syrah and Rhone Style Varieties (other than Syrah) and Blends. Each winery was allowed up to one entry per category and could participate in as few or many categories as they desired.
"We invited only those wineries that do their winemaking here locally," clarifies Davis. "And each winery had to send one judge from their winemaking staff to blind taste and evaluate the entries for color, aroma/bouquet, flavors, texture, finish and balance plus typicity, or the overall impression of the wine for fitting its type."
Judges made notes and recorded scores, evaluating the wines using a 25-point scale. An award ceremony was recently held at Willows Lodge, where the winners were announced:
• Best Bordeaux Blend - 2007 Guardian Cellars "The Wanted," Columbia Valley
• Best Chardonnay - 2009 Efeste "Lola" Chardonnay, Columbia Valley;
• Best Cabernet Sauvignon - 2007 Covington Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
• Best Rhone Blend - 2008 Darby Winery "The Flipside" Grenache, Syrah
• Best Sauvignon Blanc - 2009 Sparkman Cellars "Pearl" Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley
• Best Syrah – 2008 Covington Cellars Syrah, Columbia Valley
• Wine of the Year - The highest scored wine of the blind tasting went to 2007 Guardian Cellars "The Wanted," Columbia Valley.
The winners from each category received a trophy to display in their wineries and the top wines will be promoted at Willows Lodge Fireside Cellars and in the Barking Frog restaurant in the months to come.
"It went so much better than I expected," comments Davis regarding the event. "We really didn’t know how many wineries would participate and at first, the entries were slow to come in, but then there was a burst of activity. We were delighted with the enthusiasm from the participants."
He notes that the winemakers really enjoyed the process of judging their peers, as it gave them an opportunity to see where their own wines fit into the community.
He says, "It also reinforced their feelings about the quality of wines here, which is very high. Many of them told me how privileged they feel to make wine here and to be a part of such a great winemaking community."
Davis hopes that the success of the event will ensure that it will become an annual happening.