Dunham Cellars wins top award at Walla Walla Valley Wine Competition

By on June 20, 2016
Dunham Cellars Syrah wins best of show at the Walla Walla Valley Wine Competition.

The Dunham Cellars 2013 Syrah won best of show at the fourth annual Walla Walla Valley Wine Competition. Dunham’s 2014 Lewis Vineyard Riesling earned the award for best white wine. (Photo by Andy Perdue/Great Northwest Wine)

WALLA WALLA, Wash. – A winery that has experienced incredible challenges the past four years won best of show at the fourth annual Walla Walla Valley Wine Competition.

Dunham Cellars topped a star-studded list of entries with its 2013 Syrah. The Walla Walla airport winery – one of the oldest in the valley – also had the best white wine in its 2014 Lewis Vineyard Riesling.

It has been a difficult three years for Dunham Cellars. In 2013, co-founder Mike Dunham died after a long bout with cancer. A year later, his son, founding winemaker Eric Dunham, committed suicide.

Late last year, Dunham’s longtime head winemaker, Daniel Wampfler, announced that he was leaving to take over the cellar at nearby Abeja. In April, Tyler Tennyson was hired as Dunham’s head winemaker.

Drink Washington Wine, a small new winery run by Brad Binko, won three gold medals – not bad for a guy who graduated from the Walla Walla Community College winemaking program two weeks ago. He won best bubbly for his sparkling Riesling, as well as golds for his Northern White and Rocket Man Red.

The best rosé went to the Dolan & Weiss Cellars 2015 Julia’s Dazzle, a label for Long Shadows Vintners.

Walla Walla Vintners, which won best of show in each of the past two Walla Walla Valley Wine Competitions and is the reigning Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year for Wine Press Northwest magazine, earned a double gold and best of class for its Dolcetto and two additional gold medals.

Woodward Canyon, the valley’s second-oldest winery, won two unanimous double gold medals for its Chardonnay and Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as a gold medal for its Estate Reserve.

The competition was staged at Walla Walla Community College. A portion of the proceeds from the Walla Walla Valley Wine Competition help fund scholarships at the college’s viticulture and enology program.

This year’s judges were:

  • April Reddout, wine program director for the Walter Clore Wine & Culinary Center in Prosser. Reddout regularly judges competitions across the Pacific Northwest, including the Cascadia Wine Competition, the Platinum Judging, the Great Northwest Invitational Wine competition and Savor NW.
  • Hank Sauer, a Walla Walla native, is master facilitator for Great Northwest Wine and a longtime wine educator who teaches seminars throughout the Pacific Northwest. He is a frequent judge and also helps coordinate competitions with Great Northwest Wine.
  • Mike Rader, a financial consultant in Kennewick, is a member of Great Northwest Wine’s tasting panel and can often be found orchestrating the backroom at such events as the Cascadia Wine Competition, the Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition and the Platinum Judging.
  • Paul Sinclair is a retired school teacher who is a longtime volunteer for Great Northwest Wine and Wine Press Northwest magazine. He can be found either judging regional wine competitions or helping to pour wines at them.
  • Ken Robertson is a member of Great Northwest Wine’s tasting panel and is a wine columnist for Wine Press Northwest magazine. Robertson is the retired executive editor of the Tri-City Herald and has been writing about wine since the 1970s. He judges wine competitions throughout the Pacific Northwest and serves as chief judge at two international tastings – the Cascadia Wine Competition and the Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition.

Past Walla Walla Valley Wine Competition results:

Here are the complete results of the 2016 Walla Walla Valley Wine Competition.

Best of show

Dunham Cellars 2013 Syrah, Columbia Valley, $35

Best rosé

Dolan & Weiss Cellars 2015 Julia’s Dazzle Rosé, Horse Heaven Hills, $16

Best sparkling

Drink Washington State NV Sparkling Riesling, Yakima Valley, $19

Best white

Dunham Cellars 2014 Lewis Vineyard Riesling, Columbia Valley, $20

Double gold/best of class

Saviah Cellars 2012 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $45

Walla Walla Vintners 2014 Dwelley Vineyard Dolcetto, Walla Walla Valley, $24

Gold/best of class

Aluvé 2012 Primo Volo, Walla Walla Valley, $48

Five Star Cellars 2012 Merlot, Walla Walla Valley, $34

Double gold

Woodward Canyon 2014 Chardonnay, Washington, $44

Woodward Canyon 2013 Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington, $99

Gold

Balboa Winery 2015 Bloxom Slope Vineyard Grüner Veltliner, Yakima Valley, $20

Balboa Winery 2014 Mourvèdre, Red Mountain, $55

College Cellars 2014 Cockburn Ranch Vineyard Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $26

Drink Washington State 2015 Northern White Blend, Columbia Valley, $19

Dumas Station 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $38

Eleganté Cellars 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $35

Eternal Wines 2014 Rocket Man Red, Columbia Valley, $25

Grantwood Winery 2014 Tempranillo, Walla Walla Valley, $18

Grantwood Winery 2014 Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $18

L’Ecole No. 41 2014 Seven Hills Vineyard Luminesce, Walla Walla Valley, $22

L’Ecole No. 41 2013 Seven Hills Vineyard Cabernet Franc, Walla Walla Valley, $36

Long Shadows Vintners 2015 Poet’s Leap Riesling, Columbia Valley, $20

Palencia Winery 2015 Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley, $18

Saviah Cellars 2013 Tempranillo, Walla Walla Valley, $38

Saviah Cellars 2013 Reserve Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $45

Three Rivers Winery 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $39

Vino La Monarcha 2015 Pinot Noir Rosé, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley , $18

Walla Walla Vintners 2014 Cabernet Franc, Columbia Valley, $32

Walla Walla Vintners 2014 Sangiovese, Columbia Valley, $25

Weaver Family Winery 2014 Merlot, Walla Walla Valley, $30

Windy Canyon 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $32

Woodward Canyon 2012 Estate Reserve, Walla Walla Valley, $79

Zerba Cellars 2012 Cockburn Vineyard Reserve Equilibrio, Walla Walla Valley, $55

Silver

Aluvé 2014 Estate Chardonnay, Walla Walla Valley, $36

Aluvé 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $48

Balboa Winery 2015 Mith, Walla Walla Valley, $30

Balboa Winery 2014 GSM, Red Mountain and Walla Walla Valley, $55

Browne Family Vineyards 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $35

Browne Family Vineyards 2013 Tribute Red, Columbia Valley, $30

Canoe Ridge Vineyard 2014 The Expedition Merlot, Horse Heaven Hills, $15

Canoe Ridge Vineyard 2013 Reserve Cherry Street Red, Horse Heaven Hills, $25

College Cellars 2015 Scholarship White, Walla Walla Valley, $12

College Cellars 2014 Clarke Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $20

College Cellars 2013 Clarke Vineyard Cabernet Franc, Walla Walla Valley, $20

College Cellars 2014 Sangiovese, Walla Walla Valley, $25

Dumas Station 2013 Cabernet Franc, Walla Walla Valley, $32

Eleganté Cellars 2011 Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $35

Eternal Wines 2015 Eternal Beauty Rose, Walla Walla Valley, $19

Five Star Cellars 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $36

Grantwood Winery 2014 Merlot, Walla Walla Valley, $15

L’Ecole No. 41 2013 Estate Merlot, Walla Walla Valley, $37

L’Ecole No. 41 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $40

L’Ecole No. 41 2013 Estate Ferguson, Walla Walla Valley, $65

L’Ecole No. 41 2013 Estate Perigee, Walla Walla Valley, $55

L’Ecole No. 41 2013 Pepper Bridge Vineyard Apogee, Walla Walla Valley, $55

L’Ecole No. 41 2013 Seven Hills Vineyard Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $37

Nine Hats Cellars 2014 Red Wine, Columbia Valley, $20

Palencia Winery 2015 Albariño, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley , $18

Palencia Winery 2013 Mourvèdre, Yakima Valley , $36

Palencia Winery 2013 El Viñador Temprañillo , Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $50

Tertulia Cellars 2015 Estate Tempranillo Rosé, Walla Walla Valley, $16

Tertulia Cellars 2015 Whistling Hills Estate Vineyard Viognier, Walla Walla Valley, $20

Tertulia Cellars 2013 Estate Reserve Excelsior Red Wine, Walla Walla Valley, $55

Tertulia Cellars 2013 The Great SChisM Reserve, Walla Walla Valley, $55

Three Rivers Winery 2014 Reserve Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $22

Three Rivers Winery 2015 Estate Rose, Walla Walla Valley, $14

Three Rivers Winery 2013 Malbec-Merlot, Columbia Valley, $29

Three Rivers Winery 2013 Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $39

Vino La Monarcha 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $24

Walla Walla Vintners 2013 Merlot, Walla Walla Valley, $30

Walla Walla Vintners 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $38

Walla Walla Vintners 2013 Malbec, Walla Walla Valley, $32

Walla Walla Vintners 2013 GSM, Walla Walla Valley, $30

Walla Walla Vintners 2013 Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $40

Waterbrook Winery 2013 Reserve Malbec, Columbia Valley, $22

Waterbrook Winery 2014 Melange Founder’s Red, Columbia Valley, $13

Windy Canyon 2014 Poirier, Walla Walla Valley, $30

Windy Canyon 2014 Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $35

Woodward Canyon 2013 Artist Series #22 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $59

Woodward Canyon 2013 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $49

Zerba Cellars 2013 Tempranillo, Walla Walla Valley, $45

Bronze

Drink Washington State 2014 Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $19

Eleganté Cellars 2014 Strawberry, Walla Walla Valley, $28

Eleganté Cellars 2008 Gewürztraminer, Columbia Gorge, $28

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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 .

3 Comments

  1. Pingback: Aluvé 2012 Primo Volo, Walla Walla Valley, $48 - Great Northwest Wine

  2. Pingback: Drink Washington State Winery NV Sparkling Riesling, Yakima Valley, $19 - Great Northwest Wine

  3. Pingback: L'Ecole No. 41 2013 Seven Hills Vineyard Estate Cabernet Franc, Walla Walla Valley, $36 - Great Northwest Wine

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