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Winemaker's Journal — The NCW Wine Awards Gala is this Saturday

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wine awards
Top winners of the first NCW Wine Awards in 2011.

The Fourth Annual North Central Washington Wine Awards is coming right up and this is one wine and food social event you don’t want to miss.

All the drinking, eating and schmoozing happens from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 23, at the Town Toyota Center. The event was held at the center last year with great response from more than 300 people attending. 

This year’s event includes wines from 30 different regional wineries, all of them award winners. By far the biggest NCW wine event of the year, this is a great opportunity to taste wines from all the best wineries in the region and talk to winery owners and winemakers about their craft. And at $40 per person, this event is a bargain.

A panel of professional judges awarded a record number of Gold and Double Gold medals this year during blind tastings held last June. The results have been kept secret since then, to be revealed for the first time to the public this Saturday. Full results and stories about top winners will also be published in the September-October issue of Foothills magazine, which is published by The Wenatchee World. The issue of the magazine will be distributed statewide to promote the region’s growing wine industry. Nearly 250 wines from 37 wineries were entered in the competition.

Judges experienced from previous NCW Wine Awards agreed that local wines have vastly improved over the past four years. Nearly 20 percent of wines entered received Gold or Double Gold medals — 58 wines — more than twice as many as in previous years. Ten Double Gold medals were awarded this year. Last year, there were only two.

Ken Robertson, a retired newspaper editor and longtime wine columnist from the Tri-Cities area said the first year he judged here there were a few wineries making great wines and many others working to improve. Now, it’s clear, he said, that the entire industry has elevated their craft.

“The improvement has been remarkable,” Robertson said.

Andy Perdue, wine writer for the Seattle Times, coordinated the NCW competition with Eric Degerman. The two Richland writers created and publish Great Northwest Wines, a wine news company that also organizes wine competitions throughout the Northwest.

“We probably gave out twice the number of gold medals as we did here last year,” Perdue said. The Great Northwest competitions don’t give out gold and double gold awards willy-nilly.

“We’re journalists. We don’t have anything if we don’t have integrity,” said Perdue, a third generation newspaperman. He said most wine competitions award about 10 percent gold. This year doubled that.

“We tasted 36 red blends and awarded only one bronze medal. All the rest were silver, gold or double gold. That’s amazing,” he said.

The emphasis will be on fun rather than competition Saturday evening. Besides lots of great wine, there will be hard ciders, beers and ales and hand-crafted distilled spirits to try. And there will be plenty to eat. A dozen eateries will be on hand to serve a truly diverse selection of foods ranging from sushi to gyros, from Italian to East Indian.

Awards will be announced and bannered on the Town Toyota Center’s huge electronic screens. There will be information booths about wine and wine education. The Confluence Jazz Trio will provide the night’s upbeat themes.

Wines can be purchased to take home after the event. Profits will benefit the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center.

For more information or to purchase advance tickets online, go to Tickets can also be purchased at the door for $40 per person.