Woodinville’s Brian Carter Cellars tops Seattle wine competition

By on February 21, 2014

Brian Carter Cellars won best in show at the Seattle Wine & Food Experience Wine Competition.

Brian Carter, owner and winemaker at Brian Carter Cellars in Woodinville, Wash., won best in show for Opulento, a fortified dessert wine, at the inaugural Seattle Wine & Food Experience Wine Competition. (Photo courtesy of Brian Carter Cellars)

SEATTLE – A red dessert wine crafted by one of Washington’s longest-tenured winemakers earned best in show at the inaugural Seattle Wine & Food Experience Wine Competition.

Brian Carter Cellars‘ 2011 Opulento, a Port-style dessert wine, won top honors in the judging of 165 wines from the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Carter produced the wine using Touriga Naçional, Souzão and Tinta Cão, all Portuguese varieties grown in the Yakima Valley. It retails for $22 per half-bottle.

Carter, who grew up in Oregon, began making wine as a youth, crafting fruit wines in his mother’s kitchen. After graduating from Oregon State University, he honed his craft at the University of California-Davis. In 1980, Carter came to Washington to become head winemaker for Paul Thomas Winery in Bellevue. In 1988, he helped launch Apex and Washington Hills Cellars in the Yakima Valley town of Sunnyside.

He stayed at Washington Hills until about a decade ago, when he launched Brian Carter Cellars with business partner Mike Stevens. They opened their Woodinville tasting room in 2006. Carter’s focus since launching his eponymous winery has been on blends.

Brian Carter Cellars at Seattle Wine & Food Experience

The Seattle Wine & Food Experience is Feb. 23, 2014.

The Seattle Wine & Food Experience will take place Sunday at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall. (Photo courtesy of Peha Promotions)

Carter will be pouring his wines at the Seattle Wine & Food Experience from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall. The sixth annual event is a benefit for Les Dames d’Escoffier Seattle and is put on by Peha Promotions and longtime Seattle wine event specialist Jamie Peha.

Also winning high honors in the competition were Milbrandt Vineyards for its 2011 Brothers’ Blend (best red), Eye of the Needle NV Harvest White (best white) and Treveri Cellars sparkling Gewürztraminer (best sparkling).

Wineries winning multiple gold medals were: Arbor Crest Wine Cellars of Spokane; Brian Carter Cellars; Cave B Estate Winery of George, Wash.,; Columbia Winery of Woodinville; Pondera Winery of Woodinville; Silver Lake Winery of Woodinville; and Treveri Cellars of Wapato, Wash.

The competition included wines from Washington, Oregon, California and Argentina. It was conducted by Great Northwest Wine on behalf of the Seattle Wine & Food Experience.

Here are the full medal results:

Best in show

Brian Carter Cellars 2011 Opulento, Yakima Valley, $22

Best red wine

Milbrandt Vineyards 2011 Brothers’ Blend, Columbia Valley, $17

Best sparkling wine

Treveri Cellars NV Gewürztraminer Demi-Sec, Columbia Valley, $17

Best white wine

Eye of the Needle NV Harvest White, Columbia Valley, $11

Gold

Arbor Crest Wine Cellars 2011 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $18

Arbor Crest Wine Cellars 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $18

Argento 2012 Malbec, Mendoza, $12

Armstrong Family Winery 2011 Celebration Series Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $27

Boneshaker 2012 Zinfandel, Lodi, $25

Brian Carter Cellars 2009 Tuttorosso, Yakima Valey, $34

Bunnell Family Cellar 2008 Syrah, Horse Heaven Hills, $40

Cave B Estate Winery 2010 XXV Merlot, Columbia Valley, $38

Cave B Estate Winery 2010 Cuvée du Soleil, Columbia Valley, $48

Columbia Winery 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $14

Columbia Winery NV Composition, Columbia Valley, $14

Fetzer Vineyards 2010 Crimson Red, California, $12

Firesteed Cellars 2012 Pinot Gris, Oregon, $14

Francis Coppola Winery 2010 Director’s Cut Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $23

Gordon Estate 2010 SIX Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $41

Hahn Estate 2012 Pinot Noir, California, $14

Kennedy Shah 2008 Maghee Merlot, Rattlesnake Hills, $36

Kiona Vineyards Winery 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $25

Milbrandt Vineyards 2012 Traditions Riesling, Columbia Valley, $13

Obelisco Estate 2010 Merlot, Red Mountain, $45

Patterson Cellars 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $40

Pondera Winery 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $30

Pondera Winery 2010 Entwined, Columbia Valley, $34

Silver Lake Winery 2012 Roza Riesling, Rattlesnake Hills, $9

Silver Lake Winery 2012 Chardonnay, Rattlesnake Hills, $9

Stoller Family Estate 2010 Reserve Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, $45

Terra Blanca Winery 2009 Signature Series Block 8 Syrah, Red Mountain, $42

Three Rivers Winery 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $39

Treveri Cellars NV Brut Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs, Columbia Valley, $14

Willamette Valley Vineyards 2012 Riesling, Willamette Valley, $14

Silver

A Squared 2013 Pinot Gris, Horse Heaven Hills, $14

Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2012 Shepherds Mark, Horse Heaven Hills, $24

Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2011 Jet Black Syrah, Horse Heaven Hills, $25

Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2011 Quarry Butte, Horse Heaven Hills, $25

Anam Cara Cellars 2012 Dry Riesling, Chehalem Mountains, $22

Ancestry Cellars 2012 Reminiscence Riesling, Columbia Gorge, $18

Ancestry Cellars 2011 Reunion Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $25

Ancestry Cellars 2011 La Soeur Red Wine, Columbia Valley, $35

Arbor Crest Wine Cellars 2010 Dionysus, Columbia Valley, $40

Brian Carter Cellars 2012 Oriana, Yakima Valley, $22

Brian Carter Cellars 2008 Solesce, Columbia Valley, $50

Bunnell Family Cellar 2011 Fraiche, Columbia Valley, $24

Bunnell Family Cellar 2008 Vif, Columbia Valley, $36

California Crush 2012 Red Blend, California, $10

Canoe Ridge Vineyard 2010 Cherry Street, Horse Heaven Hills, $20

Castillo de Feliciana Vineyard & Winery 2012 Vino Verano Pinot Gris, Yakima Valley, $16

Castillo de Feliciana Vineyard & Winery 2010 Malbec, Horse Heaven Hills, $38

Cave B Estate Winery 2011 Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $25

Charles Krug 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, St. Helena, $15

Citation 2011 Chardonnay, Oregon, $32

Citation 2003 Pinot Noir, Oregon, $64

Columbia Winery 2012 Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $14

Elevation Cellars 2009 Monolith, Red Mountain, $34

Eye of the Needle NV The Eye, Columbia Valley, $11

Fetzer Vineyards 2012 Quartz Chardonnay, California, $12

Francis Coppola Winery 2012 Sofia Blanc de Blancs, Monterey, $19

Francis Coppola Winery 2012 Sofia Chardonnay, Monterey, $17

Francis Coppola Winery 2011 Director’s Cabernet, Sonoma County, $20

Girly Girl Wines 2012 Moscato, Rattlesnake Hills, $13

Girly Girl Wines 2011 Merlot, Rattlesnake Hills, $17

Gordon Estate 2009 Tempranillo, Columbia Valley, $37

Gordon Estate 2012 Late Harvest Gewürztraminer, Columbia Valley, $40

Hahn Estate 2011 SLH Estate Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, $35

Jekel Vineyards 2012 Chardonnay, Arroyo Seco, $20

Kennedy Shah 2011 DuBrul Vineyard Reserve Riesling, Yakima Valley, $25

Kennedy Shah 2008 Reserve Syrah, Rattlesnake Hills, $42

Kennedy Shah 2008 La Vie en Rouge Reserve Red Wine, Rattlesnake Hills, $42

Kiona Vineyards Winery 2012 Chardonnay, Washington, $15

Kiona Vineyards Winery 2010 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $25

Kiona Vineyards Winery 2011 Lemberger, Red Mountain, $15

Kiona Vineyards Winery 2012 Chenin Blanc Ice Wine, Red Mountain, $25

Luminous Hills 2012 Estate Pinot Noir, Yamhill-Carlton, $35

Maryhill Winery 2008 Port, Columbia Valley, $20

Milbrandt Vineyards 2012 Traditions Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $13

Milbrandt Vineyards 2012 Traditions Merlot, Columbia Valley, $16

Naches Heights Vineyard 2012 Pinot Gris, Naches Heights, $14

Naches Heights Vineyard 2012 Riesling, Naches Heights, $11

Naches Heights Vineyard 2011 Syrah, Naches Height, $20

Naches Heights Vineyard 2011 Two Dancers, Yakima Valey, $18

Native Sun Wines 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, $65

Obelisco Estate 2010 Electrum Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, $65

Pepi 2011 Chenin Blanc Viognier, California, $11

Purple Star Wines 2011 Syrah, Columbia Valley, $18

Renwood 2011 Premier Old Vine Zinfandel, Amador County, $17

Seven of Hearts 2012 Chardonnay, Willamette Valley, $24

Seven of Hearts 2012 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, $20

Silver Lake Winery 2011 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Rattlesnake Hills, $16

Sky River Meadery NV Solas Honey Wine, Washington, $26

Smith & Hook 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Central Coast, $30

Sonoris Wines 2010 Mia Corsa, Red Mountain, $40

Sonoris Wines 2010 Red dessert wine, Red Mountain, $40

Stoller Family Estate 2011 Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, $25

Swiftwater Cellars 2010 Syrah, Columbia Valley, $35

Terra Blanca Winery 2008 Signature Series Merlot, Red Mountain, $40

Terra Blanca Winery 2009 Signature Series Batholith, Red Mountain, $45

Terra Blanca Winery 2009 Onyx Red Wine, Red Mountain, $55

The Divining Rod 2011 Chardonnay, Santa Lucia Highlands, $15

The Divining Rod 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, $18

Three Oaks 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, North Coast, $10

Three Rivers Winery 2012 Steel Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $14

Three Rivers Winery 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $21

Tomero 2012 Malbec, Mendoza, $14

Treveri Cellars NV Rosé Sec, Columbia Valley, $18

Unruly 2012 Zinfandel, California, $12

Bronze

A Squared 2013 Rosé, Horse Heaven Hills, $14

Alexander Valley Vineyards 2011 Syrah, Alexander Valley, $18

Alexander Valley Vineyards 2011 Sin Zin, Alexander Valley, $20

Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2012 Riesling, Horse Heaven Hills, $16

Anam Cara Cellars 2011 Nicholas Estate Pinot Noir, Chehalem Mountains, $32

Ancestry Cellars 2012 Reunion Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $25

Ancestry Cellars 2011 Le Frere Red Wine, Columbia Valley, $35

Arbor Crest Wine Cellars 2013 Bacchus Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley, $10

Armstrong Family Winery 2012 White Angels White Wine, Columbia Valley, $16

Brian Carter Cellars 2009 Byzance, Columbia Valley, $34

California Crush 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, California, $10

California Crush 2012 Pink Moscato, California, $10

Castillo de Feliciana Vineyard & Winery 2010 Tempranillo, Wahluke Slope, $28

Charles Krug 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Yountville, $30

Columbia Winery 2012 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $14

Decadence 2009 Red Wine, Columbia Valley, $41

Donedei 2009 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $30

Elevation Cellars 2012 Imperium, Columbia Valley, $17

Francis Coppola Winery 2010 Director’s Cut Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, $23

Gordon Estate 2010 Tradition Red Wine, Columbia Valley, $37

Hahn Estate 2012 SLH Estate Chardonnay, Santa Lucia Highlands, $25

Jekel Vineyards 2012 Riesling, Monterey, $16

Kennedy Shah 2008 Artz Vineyard Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, $52

Martin & Weyrich 2011 Moscato Allegro, California, $12

Maryhill Winery 2009 Sangiovese, Columbia Valley, $16

Modern House Wines NV Expensive Red Blend, California, $10

Modern House Wines NV With Love Red Blend, California, $11

Naches Heights Vineyard 2012 Guinevere Gewurztraminer, Naches Heights, $14

Obelisco Estate 2010 Malbec, Red Mountain, $35

Patterson Cellars 2012 Melange Blanc, Columbia Valley, $23

Pondera Winery 2010 Stillwater Creek Vineyard Malbec, Columbia Valley, $34

Purple Star Wines 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley, $11

Sky River Meadery NV Honey Rose Wine, Washington, $18

Sky River Meadery NV Sweet Brochet Mead, Washington, $17

Sonoris Wines 2012 Verna Mae Viognier, Columbia Valley, $22

Swiftwater Cellars 2009 Proprietary Red, Columbia Valley, $50

Terra Blanca Winery 2008 Signature Series Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, $45

Three Oaks 2011 Chardonnay, North Coast, $10

Three Rivers Winery 2010 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $29

Three Rivers Winery 2011 River’s Red, Columbia Valley, $14

Unruly 2012 Red Wine, California, $12

Vistalba 2011 Corte C, Mendoza, $15

Willamette Valley Vineyards 2011 Estate Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, $30

Willamette Valley Vineyards 2010 Elton Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills, $45

About Andy Perdue

Andy Perdue is the editor and publisher of Great Northwest Wine. He is a third-generation journalist who has worked at newspapers since the mid-1980s and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest magazine with Eric Degerman and served as its editor-in-chief for 15 years. He is a frequent judge at international wine competitions. He is the author of "The Northwest Wine Guide: A Buyer's Handbook" (Sasquatch, 2003) and has contributed to four other books. He writes about wine for The Seattle Times. You can find him on Twitter and .

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