Judges select favorites from 2017 Cascadia Wine Competition

By on April 17, 2017

The judging panel for the 2017 Cascadia Wine Competition featured, front row, left to right, chief judge April Reddout, Ellen Landis, Jean Yates, Sheri Sauter Morano MW, Tina Hammond, Kristine Bono, Coco Umiker, Ph.D, and Ilene Dudunake; middle row, Albert Coke Roth, III, Esq., Jessica Munnell, Kathryn House, Daniel Carr, Don Elsing and Barb Robertson; and back row, Brad Smith, Tim McNally, Jay Drysdale, Alan Busacca, Ph.D., Richard Larsen, Ph.D, Rich Cushman and Gordon Venneri. (Photo by Richard Duval Images)

HOOD RIVER, Ore. – Wine experts rarely are unanimous when it comes to gold-medal wines, so we asked our judges at the fifth annual Cascadia Wine Competition to list some of their favorite wines.

We dub these as “Judges Selections.” At The Cascadia, staged at the historic Columbia Gorge Hotel in Hood River, Ore., our 21 judges worked in teams to taste through more than 900 wines to determine the best. They tasted all wines blind, meaning they didn’t know the producers or the prices of the wines until after the competition was over.

Some of these wines listed below received a gold medal. A few wine competitions across the country offer a “silver bullet” — an extra gold-medal vote to be used to help elevate a wine’s score if a judge feels strongly enough in their lobbying efforts to award that wine a gold medal.

There are no silver bullets or guns drawn at the Cascadia, but if there were, each of these judges would have awarded a gold medal to the wines listed below.

Here are this year’s Judges Selections from the Cascadia:

Kristine Bono

Kristine Bono is the tasting room manager for Goose Ridge Estate Vineyard and Winery near Richland, Wash. She is a frequent judge throughout the Pacific Northwest and has worked at such wineries as Alexandria Nicole Cellars and Col Solare, both in Washington.

Tinhorn Creek Vineyards 2014 Cabernet Franc, Okanagan Valley $22
Delfino Vineyards 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Umpqua Valley $28
Wy’East Vineyards 2014 Vinette’s Cuvee Estate Pinot Noir, Columbia Gorge $36
Perseus Winery 2013 Invictus Red Wine, Okanagan Valley $50
Bella Wines 2016 West Kelowna Ancestrale Sparkling Gamay, Okanagan Valley $40
Whidbey Island Winery 2014 Primitivo, Horse Heaven Hills $27
Cliff Creek Cellars 2015 MRV White Wine, Rogue Valley $22

Jay Drysdale

Jay Drysdale is the winemaker and co-owner of Bella Wines, the bubble house in Naramata, British Columbia.

Abacela 2016 Estate Viognier, Umpqua Valley $26
Maryhill Winery 2014 Proprietor’s Reserve Serendipity Columbia Valley $36
Mosquito Fleet Winery 2013 Malbec, Horse Heaven Hills
Stottle Winery 2013 6 Prong Vineyard Malbec, Horse Heaven Hills    $34
William Grassie Wine Estates 2013 Petite Colline Malbec, Columbia Valley $42

Ilene Dudunake

Ilene Dudunake is the owner of A New Vintage Wine Shop in Meridian, Idaho.

2Hawk Vineyard & Winery 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, Rogue Valley $20
Bench 1775 Winery 2016 Viognier, Okanagan Valley $14
Helvetia Vineyards & Winery 2015 Estate Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley $21
Saviah Cellars 2014 G.S.M. Red Wine, Yakima Valley $38
Wy’East Vineyards 2015 Pinot Gris, Columbia Gorge $20
Coyote Canyon Winery 2013 Coyote Canyon Vineyard Sangiovese, Horse Heaven Hills    $25
Madsen Family Cellars 2011 Othello Red Wine, Columbia Valley $32
Smasne Cellars 2012 Three Vineyard Reserve Malbec, Columbia Valley $50
Cadaretta 2014 Springboard Red Wine, Columbia Valley $50

Don Elsing

Don Elsing is the tasting room manager for Fielding Hills Winery in Chelan, Wash.

Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards 2015 Revelation & Sorek Block Estate Grüner Veltliner, Umpqua Valley, $24
Maryhill Winery 2015 Winemaker’s White Wine, Columbia Valley, $16
Upper Bench Estate Winery 2015 Chardonnay, Okanagan Valley, $26
Barili Cellars 2015 Chardonnay, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $15
Nine Hats 2016 Benches Vineyard Pinot Gris, Horse Heaven Hills, $14
Cardwell Hills Cellars 2016 Estate Rosé of Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, $15
Joie Farm Winery 2016 “Re-Think Pink” Rosé, Okanagan Valley, $24
Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery  2016 Rosé of Cabernet Franc, Golden Mile Bench, $14
Kiona Vineyards and Winery 2014 Estate Merlot, Red Mountain, $42
Tsillan Cellars 2014 Estate Reserve Syrah, Lake Chelan, $35
Cadaretta 2014 Windthrow Red Blend, Columbia Valley, $50

Tina Hammond

Tina Hammond is co-owner/winemaker of Privé Vineyard in Newberg, Ore. Privé was Wine Press Northwest magazine’s 2004 Oregon Winery to Watch.

Bunnell Family Cellar 2011 Syrah, Horse Heaven Hills $44
Harbinger Winery 2013 Malbec, Wahluke Slope $28
Armstrong Family Winery 2014 Dineen Vineyard Petit Verdot, Yakima Valley
Lagana Cellars 2016 Cockburn Ranch Chardonnay, Walla Walla Valley $20
Van Duzer Vineyards 2014 Westside Blocks Estate Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley $60

Kathryn House

Kathryn “Kat” House is a winemaking consultant and owner House of Wine in Boise, Idaho.

Lost River Winery 2014 Barbera, Horse Heaven Hills, $28
Maryhill Winery 2014 Clifton Hill Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Wahluke Slope, $40
Bunnell Family Cellar 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $54
Lost River Winery 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $26
Ryan Patrick Wines 2015 Naked Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $12
Lake Breeze Vineyards 2013 Pinot Noir, Okanagan Valley $26
Niche Wine Co. 2015 Pinot Noir, Okanagan Valley $21
DeLille Cellars 2014 Doyenne Red Wine, Yakima Valley $42
Perseus Winery 2014 Syrah, Okanagan Valley, $25
Church and State Wines 2015 Viognier, Okanagan Valley $17

Ellen Landis

Ellen Landis is a sommelier and renowned wine judge who recently relocated from California to Vancouver, Wash. She writes at Ellen On Wine.

Walla Walla Vintners 2014 Dwelley Vineyard Dolcetto, Walla Walla Valley, $24
Ambassador Wines of Washington 2014 Estate Merlot, Red Mountain, $38
Stag’s Hollow Winery & Vineyard 2014 Renaissance Merlot, Okanagan Valley, $35
Koenig Vineyards 2014 Three Vineyard Cuveé Syrah, Snake River Valley, $22
Mercer Estates 2014 Spice Cabinet Vineyard Reserve Syrah, Horse Heaven Hills, $40
Cadaretta 2013 Southwind Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $45
Koenig Vineyards 2014 Hells Canyon Vineyard Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Snake River Valley, $30
Reustle – Prayer Rock Vineyards 2015 Winemaker’s Reserve Pinot Noir, Umpqua Valley, $39
L’Ecole No. 41 2014 Seven Hills Vineyard Estate Cabernet Franc, Walla Walla Valley, $37
Cinder Wines 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon 60% Merlot 27% Malbec 13%, Snake River Valley, $29
Tightrope Winery 2016 Naramata Bench Riesling, Okanagan Valley, $22
Abacela 2016 Private Selection Estate Albariño, Umpqua Valley, $25
Barnard Griffin Winery 2016 Rosé of Sangiovese, Columbia Valley, $14

Richard Larsen

Richard Larsen is the research winemaker and enologist for Washington State University at the WSU Wine Science Center in Richland, Wash.

Bench 1775 Winery 2012 Naramata Bench Blanc de Blancs, Okanagan Valley, $21
Zerba Cellars 2014 Estate Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $36
Smasne Cellars 2012 Three Vineyard Reserve Petit Verdot, Columbia Valley, $38
Ledger David Cellars 2014 Petit Verdot, Rogue Valley, $38
Wild Goose Vineyards 2016 Mystic River Vineyard Estate Pinot Blanc, Okanagan Valley, $17
Stave & Stone Winery 2015 Chardonnay, Columbia Gorge, $28
Maryhill Winery 2014 Elephant Mountain Vineyard Carménère, Rattlesnake Hills, $40

Tim McNally

Tim McNally is broadcaster and journalist in New Orleans who is host of Dine, Wine & Spirits on WGSO 990 AM, Appetite for Life on WLAE-TV and a contributor to New Orleans magazine.

Mt. Hood Winery 2014 Gunkel Vineyard Barbera, Columbia valley, $28
Walla Walla Vintners 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $38
Alta Cellars Winery 2012 Cabernet Franc, Wahluke Slope, $36
Wild Goose Vineyards 2016 Pinot Gris, Okanagan Valley, $17
Van Duzer Vineyards 2014 Westside Blocks Estate Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, $60

Sheri Sauter Morano

Sheri Sauter Morano is a Master of Wine, a senior advisor for wine collecting service Chai Consulting, and a partner at Wine Ring, a consumer-focused wine technology platform. She lives in Durham, N.C.

Zerba Cellars 2013 Cockburn Vineyard Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley $55
Saviah Cellars 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $30
Church and State Wines 2014 Coyote Bowl Chardonnay, Okanagan Valley, $18
Maryhill Winery 2014 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $25
Van Duzer Vineyards 2014 Westside Blocks Estate Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley $60
Obelisco Estate 2013 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon BDX, Red Mountain $50
Wild Goose Vineyards 2015 Red Horizon Meritage, Okanagan Valley $22
Maryhill Winery 2014 Elephant Mountain Vineyards Marvell GSM Red Wine, Rattlesnake Hills $44
Bunnell Family Cellar 2011 Syrah, Horse Heaven Hills $44

Stephen Reustle

Stephen Reustle is co-owner and director of winemaking for Reustle – Prayer Rock Vineyards in Roseburg, Ore. Reustle – Prayer Rock Vineyards is Wine Press Northwest magazine’s 2017 Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year.

Heart Catcher Wines 2014 Volcano Ridge Vineyard Merlot, Columbia Gorge, $32
Milbrandt Vineyards 2013 Clifton Hill Vineyard The Estates Syrah, Wahluke Slope, $42
Mt. Hood Winery 2014 Dry Hollow Vineyard Merlot, Columbia Valley, $34
DeLille Cellars 2014 Signature Syrah, Yakima Valley, $46
Barili Cellars 2013 Merlot, Red Mountain, $20

Barb Robertson

Barb Robertson is wine packaging specialist for MA Silva and a wine columnist for Foothills magazine in Wenatchee, Wash.

Saviah Cellars 2014 The Jack Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $18
Maryhill Winery 2014 McKinley Springs Vineyards Cinsault, Horse Heaven Hills, $36
Lopez Island Vineyards 2015 Madeleine Angevine, Puget Sound, $25
Amelia Wynn Winery 2013 Six Prong Vineyard Counoise, Horse Heaven Hills, $26
Mt. Hood Winery 2015 Estate Pinot Noir, Columbia Gorge, $32
Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery 2016 Auxerrois, Golden Mile Bench, $14

Brad Smith

Brad Smith is instructional technician vineyard and winery technology at Yakima Valley Vintners, Yakima Valley College, Grandview, Wash..

Viscon Cellars 2013 Heart Box Red Merlot, Yakima Valley, $26
Alta Cellars Winery 2012 Cabernet Franc, Wahluke Slope $36
Ambassador Wines of Washington 2014 Sunset Vineyard Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain $90
Maryhill Winery 2014 Mourvedre McKinley Springs Vineyard, Horse Heaven Hills, $34
Saviah Cellars 2015 The Jack Syrah, Columbia Valley, $18
Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery 2016 Auxerrois Golden Mile Bench    $14
Laissez Faire 2015 Sauvignon Blanc Chenin Blanc, Snake River Valley, $16
Ambassador Wines of Washington 2014 Limited Varietal Selection Estate Petit Verdot, Red Mountain $75

Coco Umiker

Coco Umiker is the winemaker and co-owner of Clearwater Canyon Cellars in Lewiston, Idaho. Clearwater Canyon was Wine Press Northwest magazine’s 2015 Idaho Winery of the Year.

Saviah Cellars 2015 Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $25
Abacela 2014 Barrel Select Graciano, Umpqua Valley, $30
Lake Breeze Vineyards 2016 Pinot Gris, Okanagan Valley, $20
Hamilton Cellars 2013 Bona Vita Red Wine, Columbia Valley, $32
Tsillan Cellars 2014 Estate Sinistra Red Blend, Lake Chelan, $28
Beaumont Cellars 2013 Reserve Petit Verdot, Wahluke Slope, $39
L’Ecole No. 41 2014 Seven Hills Vineyard Estate Cabernet Franc, Walla Walla Valley, $37
Pondera Winery 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $36

Gordy Venneri

Gordy Venneri is the co-founding winemaker and co-owner of Walla Walla Vintners, in Walla Walla, Wash. Walla Walla Vintners was Wine Press Northwest magazine’s 2016 Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year.

Abacela 2016 Estate Viognier, Umpqua Valley $26
Page Cellars 2016 Sentimental Blonde Proprietary Blend White Wine, Columbia Valley $20
Maryhill Winery 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Clifton Hill Vineyard, Wahluke Slope $40
Bunnell Family Cellar 2014 Painted Hills Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley    $54
DeLille Cellars 2014 Four Flags Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain $69
Hillside Winery 2016 Un-oaked Pinot Gris, Okanagan Valley $20
Tsillan Cellars 2014 Estate Bellissima Rossa, Lake Chelan $28
Maryhill Winery 2014 Proprietor’s Reserve Tavolo Rosso Red Wine, Columbia Valley $36
Coiled Wines 2015 Black Mamba, Snake River Valley $30
Culmina Family Estate Winery 2016 R&D Rosé Blend, Golden Mile Bench $21
2Hawk Vineyard & Winery 2015 Malbec, Rogue Valley $35
Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery 2016 Dry Rock Unoaked Chardonnay, Golden Mile Bench $13
Kiona Vineyards and Winery 2016 Chenin Blanc, Columbia Valley $15
Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery 2016 Ehrenfelser, Okanagan Valley $14

Jean Yates

Jean Yates is the owner of Oregon Wine Marketing and founded Avalon Wine Inc.

DANCIN Vineyards 2014 Septette Pinot Noir, Southern Oregon $37
DANCIN Vineyards 2014 Adagio Pinot Noir, Southern Oregon $35
Reustle – Prayer Rock Vineyards 2015 Winemaker’s Reserve Pinot Noir, Umpqua Valley $39
Bradley Vineyards 2012 Pinot Noir, Elkton Oregon $28
Avennia 2014 Gravura Red Wine, Columbia Valley $35
Palencia Wine Co 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley $20
Tightrope Winery 2015 Naramata Bench Viognier, Okanagan Valley $25
Bench 1775 Winery 2016 Viognier, Okanagan Valley $14
Tightrope Winery 2016 Rosé, Okanagan Valley $25
Palencia Wine Co. 2016 vino la MONARCHA Pinot Noir Rosé, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley $22
Palencia Wine Co. 2014 Syrah, Yakima Valley $36
Bainbridge Vineyards NV Raspberry Dessert Wine, Puget Sound $23
Maryhill Winery 2014 Painted Hills Vineyard Tempranillo, Columbia Valley $34

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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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