Oregon Wine Board seeks top Oregon-friendly restaurants

By on September 10, 2016
The Great Northwest Wine Competition takes place at the Columbia Gorge Hotel in Hood River, Oregon.

Simon’s Cliff House Restaurant at the Columbia Gorge Hotel in Hood River is a two-time recipient of an Oregon Wine A-List award. (Photo by Andy Perdue/Great Northwest Wine)

PORTLAND – This week, the Oregon Wine Board launched its yearly search for a restaurant worthy of joining the ranks of The Joel Palmer House as part of the third annual Oregon Wine A-List Awards.

“We just opened up nominations for the 2017 Oregon Wine A-List Awards, which recognizes restaurants across the world displaying enthusiasm for Oregon wine and a deep appreciation of the diverse regions, varieties and producers of Oregon,” said Michelle Kaufmann, communications manager for the Oregon Wine Board.

Nominations close Nov. 1, and winners will be announced in January. The top award will be presented during the Oregon Wine Symposium, scheduled for Feb. 21-22 in Portland.

Top program earns spotlight at Feast Portland

Portland sommelier James Rahn receives the 2016 Oregon A-List Wine Program of the Year from Oregon Wine Board chair Ellen Brittan, left.

Portland sommelier James Rahn receives the 2016 Oregon A-List Wine Program of the Year from Oregon Wine Board chair Ellen Brittan, left. (Photo by Carolyn Wells-Kramer/Courtesy of Oregon Wine Board)

Last year’s nominations resulted in recognition for 112 restaurants. In 2015, Christopher Czarnecki, executive chef/owner of the Joel Palmer House, was named the overall winner of the inaugural Oregon Wine A-List Wine Program of the Year. Czarnecki also oversees the wine list at the second-generation restaurant in Dayton.

Among the perks for winning the overall award is a featured spot in the Oregon Wine Board booth for Smoked! the marquee event for Bon Appetit magazine’s Feast Portland festival.

The 2016 overall winner was sommelier James Rahn for his work at the historic Heathman Restaurant and Bar, which closed this spring as a result of a reported property dispute among ownership groups. Rahn will be joined at Smoked! by Raven & Rose in Portland, which received one of the A-List 2016 Regional Spotlight award.

One of the interesting facets of the A-List Awards program is that it taps into fans of Oregon wine beyond the boundaries of the Beaver State. As a result, a nomination can cast a spotlight on a restaurant anywhere in the United States and around the world, which can help travelers make dining decisions.

Last year’s A-List winners from Washington state were Canlis, The Herbfarm, RN74, Terra Plata, The Whale Wins and Lummi Island’s Willows Inn. Other states and countries represented were Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New York and Virginia as well as Japan and Sweden.

Oregon Wine A-List criteria

Nominations for the 2017 Oregon Wine A-List Awards end Nov. 1, 2016.

Nominations for the 2017 Oregon Wine A-List Awards end Nov. 1, 2016.

The program defines its three award designations as:

  • A-List Award restaurants present wine lists with a significant presence of Oregon wine, typically representing a variety of styles and producers, with the listing clearly designating the wine’s Oregon origin.
  • A-List Regional Spotlight Awards are given to a select set of restaurants that have exceeded the expectations of an A-List Awarded restaurant. Spotlight restaurants typically devote 30 percent or more of their wine lists to Oregon wine from more than two of the four major growing regions in Oregon, made from a diversity of varieties, often with clear designation of the wine’s AVA.
  • A-List Wine Program of the Year is the highest honor awarded to a single restaurant and its wine program director each year with a wine program demonstrating a passionate devotion to Oregon wine. These restaurants display a commitment to Oregon wine by representing the vast diversity of fine wine produced across the state. The restaurant’s wine program director also shares their passion for by going above and beyond, offering deep selections of unique wine, vintage verticals, impressive regional diversity and/or staff and customer education.

The A-List Awards evaluate wine lists, not the service or food quality of a restaurant. Those interested in providing insight and sharing their experience at one of the award-winning restaurants are encouraged to email competition organizers at [email protected]

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About Eric Degerman

Eric Degerman is the president and CEO of Great Northwest Wine. He is a journalist with more than 30 years of daily newspaper experience and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest with Andy Perdue and served as its managing editor for 15 years. He is a frequent wine judge along the West Coast and contributor to Pacific Northwest Golfer magazine, the region's longest-running golf publication.

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