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The Oregon wine industry extended its remarkable – but almost predictable – recent run of acclaim when seven pinot noirs from the north Willamette Valley landed on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2020. Washington state saw three wines make the Top 100, meaning the Northwest is responsible for 10% of the list.
In the world of wine, pinot noir might be the most cherished, celebrated and debated. There is a charm, almost a siren’s call, that beckons wine lovers to return repeatedly. Yet it presents myriad challenges for viticulturists and winemakers who will use polite terms such as “finicky” in public when they would rather use the coarse colorful language.
This will be an unforgettable holiday season for all of us, and it begins with Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, Northwest wineries, retailers, restaurants and others in the hospitality industry are suffering because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Each year, these businesses bank on October, November and December, which they often refer to as O-N-D.
Tech exec Tim Armstrong began his admiration for the Washington wine industry in 2009 when he and his wife, Jennifer, were living in Chicago. Two years later, after taking winemaking courses through University of California-Davis, WSU and South Seattle College, the Armstrongs were in Woodinville and ready to launch Armstrong Family Winery.
Every few years, Wine Press Northwest magazine conducts an overview of fortified wines produced in our region. Each time, the tasting provides a delicious contrast of classic Old World approaches with some eclectic angles found in the New World.
Two years after it earned acclaim from the world’s most influential wine publication, the Columbia Crest 2016 H3 Cabernet Sauvignon finished atop the 2020 Washington State Wine Competition as the best of show. There were 500,000 cases produced of that $15 cab.
There haven’t been many celebrations in the Northwest wine industry this summer, but a few glasses were raised Sept. 2 when the federal government established the Royal Slope in Washington state’s Columbia Basin as an American Viticultural Area.
During the course of four weeks, from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, the United States will toast Hispanic Heritage Month, a celebration and sign of respect that began with President Lyndon B. Johnson as a week but was expanded two decades later by President Ronald Reagan in 1988.
The Williamson family has been looking for a distinctively crisp white wine to pour in their tasting room on Idaho’s historic Sunnyslope in the Snake River Valley. Judges at the 2020 Idaho Wine Competition affirm the Williamsons made a delicious decision when they planted the brilliant Spanish white grape albariño.
Many of the Northwest’s most storied producers used merlot to help establish their reputation regionally and internationally. And in many cases, the wines produced featuring this red Bordeaux grape variety are crafted for the cellar and meant to be cherished over time.
Any restaurant looking to book Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Bob Bertheau for an event should make sure Eroica Riesling is on the menu. “Whenever I do wine dinners – and I’ve done hundreds – my slogan is ‘I’m not doing a wine dinner unless Eroica is at the dinner,’ ” Bertheau says.
The dog days of summer line up nicely with Washington State Wine Month in August, and the Washington State Wine Commission is using the next few weeks to roll out its new Drink for WA campaign in earnest.
Research via DNA testing proved that sauvignon blanc, a white grape, and cabernet franc cross-pollinated to produce cabernet sauvignon in the Bordeaux region of France in the 1600s.
During these dog days of summer, the sip of a beautifully crisp Pacific Northwest rosé can be a wine lover’s best friend. Fortunately, most of the top producers in our corner of the world now craft at least one example of rosé.
A recent tasting of pinot noir we conducted for Wine Press Northwest magazine once again showcased the brilliance found in Oregon’s Eola-Amity Hills. Visitors from Portland do not often make it to the southern end of the north Willamette Valley.
This summer’s Cascadia International Wine Competition proved once again that the white grape pinot gris that is native to Burgundy is as worthy of attention as ever.
The pandemic didn’t prevent Wild Goose Vineyards in Okanagan Falls, British Columbia, from using its 2019 Mystic River Vineyard Gewürztraminer to win best of show at the 2020 Cascadia International Wine Competition on June 24 in Lewiston, Idaho.
This summer’s Auction of Washington Wines will be unlike any in its 33-year history as the marquee week in August transitions to virtual events, but it has already been a time of appreciation and reflection for Rob Mercer and his storied farming family.
A grape known as côt in the Cahors region of France and made famous by Argentina continues to build support in the Northwest under the name of malbec. This red Bordeaux variety has become a rising star in many corners of our region – the Columbia Valley, Idaho’s Snake River Valley and Southern Oregon.
His name is still on the bottle, as well as many cans, and because Joe Dobbes placed the right people in charge, the winery and brands he created continue to succeed in downtown Dundee, Oregon, and beyond.