La Frenz Winery in Naramata dominates top California competition

By on May 22, 2017

Jeff Martin, owner/winemaker for La Frenz on British Columbia’s Naramata Bench, won several top medals at the Dan Berger International Wine Competition in California. Here he stands atop his estate vineyard, which overlooks Lake Okanagan. (Andy Perdue/Great Northwest Wine)

SONOMA, Calif. – Jeff Martin, a British Columbia winemaker with more than 40 vintages in two hemispheres, dominated at one of California’s oldest and most respected wine competitions.

La Frenz Winery on the Okanagan Valley’s revered Naramata Bench won four gold medals, including a best of class award, at the Dan Berger’s International Wine Competition. Formerly known as the Riverside International Wine Competition, founder Dan Berger last year renamed it and moved it to Sonoma County where he lives.

La Frenz is owned and operated by Jeff Martin and his wife, Niva, who arrived in British Columbia from their native Australia in the late 1980s. After serving as head winemaker at Quails’ Gate Estate Winery in Kelowna, the Martins bought land and planted grapes on the Naramata Bench near Penticton. The vineyard is on a steep-faced hill with dramatic sweeping views of Lake Okanagan.

Columbia Winery, the historic brand in Woodinville, Wash., that E&J Gallo purchased in 2012, merited a double gold and best of class for its 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Kennedy Shah, a Woodinville, Wash., label under the Woodhouse Wine Estates group, won best of class for its 2016 Muscat Ottonel-based Picnic Blend.

And Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyard – Wine Press Northwest’s Winery of the Year – won best of class for its Grüner Veltliner from Oregon’s Umpqua Valley.

Overall, Northwest wines won 107 medals at the competition.

Here’s the complete list of Northwest winners.

Double gold/best of class

Columbia Winery 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $16

Kennedy Shah 2016 Picnic Blend White Wine, Yakima Valley, $20

Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards 2015 Grüner Veltliner, Umpqua Valley, $24

Gold, Best of class

La Frenz 2015 La Vita Pazza White Blend, Okanagan Valley, $18

Gold

Backyard Vineyards 2015 Riesling, British Columbia, $20

La Frenz 2015 Vivant White Wine, Okanagan Valley, $25

La Frenz NV Tawny Port, Okanagan Valley, $22

La Frenz 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, Okanagan Valley, $22

Red Rooster Winery 2015 Gewürztraminer, Okanagan Valley, $15

Silver

Abacela 2016 Estate Albariño, Umpqua Valley, $21

Abacela 2016 Estate Grenache Rosé, Umpqua Valley, $18

Abiqua Wind Vineyard 2015 Chloe’s Breeze Müller-Thurgau, Willamette Valley, $12

Abiqua Wind Vineyard 2015 Gloria Anne Gewürztraminer, Willamette Valley, $15

Backyard Vineyards 2015 Gewürztraminer, British Columbia, $20

Backyard Vineyards 201 Pinot Gris, British Columbia, $18

Backyard Vineyards 2014 Nosey Neighbour Red, British Columbia, $16

Backyard Vineyards 2016 Nosey Neighbour White, British Columbia, $16

Bench 1775 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, Naramata Bench, $25

Church & State Wines 2014 Malbec, British Columbia, $26

Church & State Wines 2015 Chardonnay, British Columbia, $20

Girardet Vineyards & Winery 2013 Tempranillo Umpqua Valley, $48

Clearwater Canyon Cellars 2014 Coco’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Lewis-Clark Valley, $42

Clearwater Canyon Cellars 2015 Carménère, Washington, $32

Clearwater Canyon Cellars 2014 Malbec, Washington, $28

Clearwater Canyon Cellars 2014 Selway Red Wine, Washington, $45

Columbia Winery NV Red Blend, Columbia Valley, $14

Columbia Winery 2014 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $16

Colter’s Creek Winery 2014 Arrow Rim Red, Idaho, $30

Colter’s Creek Winery 2015 Chardonnay, Idaho, $15

Cooper Ridge Vineyard 2016 Grüner Veltliner, Umpqua Valley, $25

Cooper Ridge Vineyard 2014 Merlot, Umpqua Valley, $34

Gravel Bar 2014 Chardonnay, Wahluke Slope, $16

Gravel Bar 2014 Alluvial Red Blend, Columbia Valley, $18

La Frenz 2015 Pinot Noir, Okanagan Valley, $25

La Frenz 2015 Riesling, Okanagan Valley, $20

La Frenz 2016 Sèmillon, Okanagan Valley, $22

La Frenz 2015 Reserve Pinot Noir, Okanagan Valley, $35

La Frenz 2016 Viognier, Okanagan Valley, $24

La Frenz 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Okanagan Valley, $28

La Frenz NV Liqueur Muscat, Okanagan Valley, $22

La Frenz 2014 Grand Total Reserve, Okanagan Valley, $45

La Frenz 2014 Merlot, Okanagan Valley, $26

Latah Creek Wine Cellars 2016 Rosé, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $13

Latah Creek Wine Cellars NV Mike’s Reserve Red, Columbia Valley, $20

Maison L’Envoyé 2015 Straight Shooter Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, $20

Maryhill Winery 2016 Sangiovese Rosé, Columbia Valley, $16

Maryhill Winery 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley, $17

Maryhill Winery 2016 Proprietor’s Reserve Albariño, Columbia Valley, $19

Maryhill Winery 2014 Winemaker’s Red, Columbia Valley, $18

Maryhill Winery 2016 Pinot Gris, Columbia Valley, $17

Noble Ridge Vineyard and Winery 2015 Stony Knoll Chardonnay, British Columbia, $17

Noble Ridge Vineyard and Winery 2013 Reserve Pinot Noir, British Columbia, $26

Pacific Rim Winemakers 2015 Riesling, Washington, $11

Paradise Ranch 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine, British Columbia, $45

Red Rooster Winery 2015 Riesling, Okanagan Valley, $17

Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards 2015 Malbec, Umpqua Valley, $31

Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards 2015 Syrah Winemaker’s Reserve, Umpqua Valley, $39

Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards 2015 Pinot Noir, Umpqua Valley, $34

Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards 2015 Tempranillo, Umpqua Valley, $29

Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards 2015 Winemaker’s Reserve Tempranillo, Umpqua Valley, $39

Sandhill 2016 Small Lots Viognier, Okanagan Valley, $25

San Juan Vineyards 2016 Siegerrebe, Puget Sound, $22

Wayne Gretzky Okanagan 2016 The Great White, Okanagan Valley, $16

Westport Winery NV Bog Berry Blush, Yakima Valley, $27

Zerba Cellars 2013 Grenache, Walla Walla Valley, $45

Zerba Cellars 2014 Dolcetto, Walla Walla Valley, $36

Bronze

Abacela 2016 Estate Muscat, Umpqua Valley, $18

Backyard Vineyards 203 Gossip, British Columbia, $19

Backyard Vineyards 2014 Reserve Cabernet Franc, British Columbia, $40

Backyard Vineyards 2014 Reserve Syrah, British Columbia, $40

Belle Fiore 2014 Belle Arte Souspire, Rogue Valley, $35

Belle Fiore 2013 Belle Esprit Sensation Syrah, Rogue Valley, $22

Bench 1775 2013 Cabernet Franc, British Columbia, $26

Bench 1775 2015 Groove Red Blend, British Columbia, $17

Charles & Charles 2016 Rosé, Columbia Valley, $12

Church & State Wines 2016 Pinot Gris, British Columbia, $15

Church & State Wines 2014 Syrah, British Columbia, $26

Church & State Wines 2015 Trebella, British Columbia, $19

Church & State Wines 2014 Merlot, British Columbia, $26

Church & State Wines 2016 Lost Inhibitions White Blend, British Columbia, $14

Church & State Wines 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, British Columbia, $26

Girardet Vineyards & Winery 2014 Sangiovese, Umpqua Valley, $48

Girardet Vineyards & Winery 2014 Riesling, Umpqua Valley, $15

Girardet Vineyards & Winery 2014 Chardonnay, Umpqua Valley, $20

Colter’s Creek Winery 2014 Koos•Koos•Kia Red Wine, Lewis-Clark Valley $20

Colter’s Creek Winery 2015 Riesling, Lewis-Clark Valley $10

Columbia Winery 2014 Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $14

Kennedy Shah 2016 Rosé, Red Mountain, $24

Kennedy Shah 2013 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, $52

Kennedy Shah 2014 Reserve Tempranillo, Yakima Valley, $42

La Frenz 2015 Ensemble, Okanagan Valley $25

La Frenz 2016 Alexandria, Okanagan Valley, $22

La Frenz 2015 Reserve Chardonnay, Okanagan Valley, $29

La Frenz 2014 Syrah, Okanagan Valley, $28

Latah Creek Wine Cellars 2016 Riesling, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $12

Maryhill Winery 2016 Viognier, Columbia Valley, $16

Maryhill Winery 2016 Sèmillon, Columbia Valley, $17

Noble Ridge Vineyard and Winery 2015 Pinot Grigio, British Columbia, $20

Noble Ridge Vineyard and Winery 2015 Mingle White Blend, British Columbia, $20

Quinta Ferreira Estate Winery 2012 Obra Prima, British Columbia, $35

Quinta Ferreira Estate Winery 2012 Merlot, British Columbia, $25

Quinta Ferreira Estate Winery 2012 Cabernet Franc, British Columbia, $30

Quinta Ferreira Estate Winery 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, British Columbia, $30

Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards 2015 Syrah, Umpqua Valley, $32

Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards 201 Sauvignon Blanc, Umpqua Valley, $23

Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards 2015 Pinot Noir Winemaker’s Reserve, Umpqua Valley, $39

San Juan Vineyards 2016 Madeleine Angevine, Puget Sound, $18

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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 .

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