7th annual Idaho Wine Competition is today

By on September 20, 2016
Idaho wine country is a diverse growing region.

Idaho not only has 50 wineries, but it also grows a wide variety of wine grapes, including everything from Riesling to Tempranillo. (Photo by Andy Perdue/Great Northwest Wine)

BOISE – The seventh annual Idaho Wine Competition, presented by Great Northwest Wine, commences today with a record 169 entries from the burgeoning Idaho wine industry.

The competition takes place today at Ruth’s Chris Steak House in the heart of downtown Boise, where eight international wine judges will taste through the entries seeking gold medals.

The judging is owned and operated by Great Northwest Wine and is run in cooperation with the Idaho Wine Commission. Full results of the judging will be announced this evening at an industry function, then published Wednesday on Great Northwest Wine.

This year’s judges include:

  • Naomi Boutz is manager and wine director of The Cellar at 317 Sherman in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
  • Mary Cressler, sommelier/writer, Vindulge.com, Portland.
  • Ilene Dudunake, owner of A New Vintage Wine Shop in the Boise suburb of Meridian.
  • Mike Dunne, wine columnist for the Sacramento Bee in California and considered one of the top judges on the West Coast.
  • Stephanie Earthman Baird, based in Houston, is a longtime wine judge, distributor and educator and is closely associated with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition, a scholarship fundraiser staged each fall in Texas.
  • Lane Hoss is the wine buyer and vice president of marketing for Anthony’s Restaurants.
  • Kat House, a wine educator and consultant based in Boise and former assistant winemaker for Betz Family Winery in Woodinville, Wash.
  • Paul Sinclair, a longtime Northwest wine enthusiast and member of Great Northwest Wine’s tasting panel. Sinclair, a retired schoolteacher, has participated in several Idaho Wine Competitions through the years.

2 new AVAs for this year’s Idaho Wine Competition

Coco and Karl Umicker own Clearwater Canyon Cellars in the proposed Lewis-Clark Valley AVA.

Coco and Karl Umiker, owners of Clearwater Canyon Cellars in Lewiston, Idaho, walk through their estate vineyard in the new Lewis-Clark Valley AVA. (Photo by Andy Perdue/Great Northwest Wine)

Last year’s top winner was a dry Muscat from Hat Ranch Winery in the Sunnyslope Wine District of Caldwell. In 2014, the top winner was Huston Vineyards’ 2012 Malbec. Both wines use grapes from the Snake River Valley, an American Viticultural Area approved by the federal government in 2007.

Since last year’s competition, the federal government has approved two more AVAs: the Lewis-Clark Valley near Lewiston, Idaho, and the Eagle Foothills north of Boise. Wines from both of these newly approved areas are represented in the judging.


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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