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2021 NCW Wine Awards | Gold Medal winners

Judging for the 2021 North Central Washington Wine Awards competition took place in Wenatchee at the end of May.

NCW Wine Awards_Logo.jpg

Thirty-nine wineries submitted a total of 241 entries this year, compared to 230 entries a year ago. When the judging was complete, the totals added up to 18 Double Gold, 49 Gold, 124 Silver and 40 Bronze medals. Ten wines did not earn a medal.

Generally, a Bronze rating from judges equates to “good,” a wine with a Silver rating is “outstanding,” and a Gold wine is considered “exceptional” by judges. To earn Double Gold status, all three judges on the panel must rate the wine as Gold.

Here are reviews for the Gold Medal-winning wines:

Cabernet Franc

WineGirl Wines 2018 Reserve Cabernet Franc, Columbia Valley

Judges’ notes: Angela Jacobs was drawn to the Northwest wine industry by a friend who worked at historic Columbia Winery in Woodinville. Her background as a University of Washington science student and then a chemist in the pharmaceutical industry paved her path to winemaking. Her work here with Cabernet Franc is as buxom as the characters that adorn the regionally inspired labels on her bottles. Bold notes of black cherry and blackberry are joined by a whiff of smoke and a leafiness that will appeal to Francophiles. It’s a big wine with a rewarding finish that will continue to evolve and reveal itself more completely in the cellar.

For current tasting room hours, call the winery or visit its website.

222 E. Wapato Way, Manson

(509) 293-9679

217 8th St., Leavenworth

(509) 393-4125

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cave B Estate Winery 2018 XXXIII Cabernet Sauvignon, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $48 (120 cases)

Judges’ notes: This five-barrel lot of old vine Cabernet Sauvignon represents some of the most complex work produced by Freddy Arredondo. It’s a Cab that gathers up notes of black cherry and blackcurrant joined by ripe herbs such as lavender. Other secondary bits include leather and cocoa powder. Judges remarked on how well this was put together and enjoyed its earthiness, pinch of black pepper and raspberry juice in the finish. Pair it with a grilled ribeye steak topped by caramelized onion and drizzled with a cherry compote.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

348 Silica Road NW, Quincy

(509) 785-3500

14356 Woodinville-Redmond Road NE, Redmond

(425) 949-7152

Columbia Gardens Urban Wine & Artisan Village

Gardens Way, 313 E. Columbia Drive #2, Kennewick

(509) 820-3710

Cabernet Sauvignon

Horan Estates Winery 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley $28 (196 cases)

Judges’ notes: A year ago, Dennis Dobbs earned a gold medal during this judging for his work with Merlot from the 2016 vintage, so this award in the Cabernet Sauvignon category for his 2016 Cab came as no surprise. The eight barrels worth of juice reveals delectable notes of black cherry, black licorice, nutmeg and fennel. Smooth tannins and a luscious finish of caramel add to its appeal. The century-old riverside Horan House that’s adorned on the label of this Cab has been lost to history, but this bottle serves as a fitting legacy.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

15 Second St., Suite 101, Wenatchee

(509) 679-0554

Cabernet Sauvignon

Jones of Washington 2016 Jack’s Reserve, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $24.99 (196 cases)

Judges’ notes: Legally, the Jones family could label this as “Cabernet Sauvignon” because the grape variety makes up more than 75% of the final blend, but this annual tribute to the late Jack Jones also serves to display the blending talents of longtime winemaker Victor Palencia. It’s a Left Bank Bordeaux-styled blend from Trinidad Vineyard with Cabernet Sauvignon (80%) receiving contributions from Cabernet Franc (13%) and Malbec (7%). There’s beautiful blackcurrant, blackberry and black cherry elements throughout, along with baking spices from 24 months in eight, once-used French oak barrels. The plum skin tannins help to make this a big, full-bodied red that’s enjoyable now yet certainly ageworthy.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

Quincy Public Market

1004 F St. SW, Quincy

(509) 787-8108

Pybus Public Market

7 N. Worthen St., Wenatchee

(509) 888-0809

Cabernet Sauvignon

Lake Chelan Winery 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $50 (250 cases)

Judges’ notes: Longtime resource Rivers Bend Vineyard in the hands of Oscar Castillo produced an example of Cabernet Sauvignon that one judge called “the most complex of the group.” Its Old World charm carries a strong sense of cherries and red currant throughout with bay leaf, thyme and cumin, backed by Baker’s chocolate, light toast and a bite of Marionberry. At the Kludt family’s on-premise BBQ in the Vineyard, they suggest pairing this with the tri tip.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

3519 Highway 150, Chelan

(509) 687-9463

Cabernet Sauvignon

Stemilt Creek Winery 2018 A Day’s Work Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $32 (285 cases)

Judges’ notes: Winemaker Seth Cohen works with estate fruit from a high-elevation site near Wenatchee to produce this classic example of Cabernet Sauvignon. Cherry compote, crushed herbs, pencil shavings and a fun hint of grape Fruit Stripe Gum combine to give this smooth and very approachable Cab with a bit of Old World charm.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

110 N. Wenatchee Ave., Wenatchee

(509) 665-3485

Chardonnay

Cave B Estate Winery 2020 Chardonnay, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $25 (210 cases)

Judges’ notes: Chardonnay has long been a cherished variety at the Bryan family’s Familigia Vineyard on the 103 acres that surround their tasting room, and their son-in-law, Freddy Arredondo, struck gold with two examples of Chardonnay. This lightly oaked version is loaded with tropical notes and bursting with juicy fruit. Its hedonistic finish includes a slice of lychee nut.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

348 Silica Road NW, Quincy

(509) 785-3500

14356 Woodinville-Redmond Road NE, Redmond

(425) 949-7152

Columbia Gardens Urban Wine & Artisan Village

Gardens Way, 313 E. Columbia Drive #2, Kennewick

(509) 820-3710

Chardonnay

Rio Vista Wines 2019 Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $22 (115)

Judges’ notes: Second-generation winemaker John Little Jr. draws from Chardonnay grown a stone’s throw from the Columbia River just downstream from Wells Dam and northeast of Chelan Falls. The results are flashy from start to finish, opening with ripe stone fruit and slightly underripe pineapple ahead of the hint of rain-slicked concrete. The discreet use of French oak accounts for the slice of brioche, and the creaminess on the midpalate transitions into a juicy and spritely finish of Granny Smith apple.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

24415 Highway 97, Chelan

(509) 682-9713

224 E. Wapato Way, Manson

(509) 687-1179

Chardonnay

Ryan Patrick Wines 2019 Naked Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $15 (10,000 cases)

Judges’ notes: The Flanagan family who founded Ryan Patrick helped brand and define the unoaked Chardonnay category more than a decade ago when they launched their “Naked” example of the white Burgundy. And the Milbrandt brothers continue to make it approachable and affordable with their growing practices and employment of Kendall Mix. Classic aromatics of orchard blossoms, stone fruit and wet stone are followed up by supple flavors of white peach and slightly underripe pineapple backed by brioche and apple skin. And at 10,000 cases with national distribution, it’s the most widely available gold medal wine from the judging.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

707 Highway 2, Unit D, Leavenworth

(509) 888-2236

508 Cabernet Court, Prosser

(509) 788-0030

14450 Redmond-Woodinville Road NE, Woodinville

(425) 949-7972

Chenin Blanc

Ancestry Cellars 2019 Le Cortège Chenin Blanc, Columbia Valley, $22 (121 cases)

Judges’ notes: Decades after earning a biology degree from the University of Puget Sound, Jason Morin went back to college to learn winemaking. Among his passions is Chenin Blanc, a vastly unappreciated and versatile white grape native to the Loire Valley in France that has thrived in tiny Riverview Vineyard near the Wahluke Slope community of Desert Aire. His latest example is filled with fruit, yet shows proper restraint as it casts out notes of honeydew melon, pink grapefruit and lemon peel. Its graceful structure and bright finish prompted a judge to note, “This has everything a Chenin should have.” Enjoy with pork, poultry or Asian-inspired fare.

For current tasting room hours, call the winery or visit its website.

50 Wapato Way, Manson

(509) 741-9006

13590 NE Village Square Drive #1035, Woodinville

(425) 435-6551

Malbec

Lake Chelan Winery 2017 Malbec, Columbia Valley, $45 (400 cases)

Judges’ notes: Malbec has found a home in the cellars of Lake Chelan producers, and winemaker Oscar Castillo reaches into Buoy Vineyard near the Yakima River west of Red Mountain for this expression. A judicious use of toasted oak merely accents the black cherry and plum aromas, which include some meatiness. Plum jam, blueberry compote and vanilla make for a tremendous mouthfeel, and its structure will be appreciated even more after two to three years in your cellar. In the meantime, bring on the baby back pork ribs.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

3519 Highway 150, Chelan

(509) 687-9463

Malbec

Tunnel Hill Winery 2018 Estate Malbec, Lake Chelan, $33 (257 cases)

Judges’ notes: Owner/founder Denny Evans began growing apples above the south shore of Lake Chelan in 1969, and he entered the region’s wine industry 35 years later. In 2011, the family brought in Ivy League-trained winemaker Michelle Fanton. The Seattle native’s experience in the Finger Lakes of New York has served Tunnel Hill’s customers well. This estate Malbec is loaded with dark purple fruit, a lick of Jolly Rancher grape candy, and full palate that brings well-integrated oak, penetrating tannins and long finish of blackcurrant. This marks the second straight vintage that Fanton has earned a gold medal in this competition with Evans-grown Malbec.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

37 Highway 97A, Chelan

(509) 682-3243

Malbec

Kludt Family Winery 2018 Mary’s Block Reserve Malbec, Columbia Valley, $42 (250 cases)

Judges’ notes: The sister project for Lake Chelan Winery is also under the delectable oversight of winemaker Oscar Castillo, and this Malbec — part of the reserve tier brand labeled as Kludt Family Winery — is among the eight gold medals his wines earned in the 2021 North Central Washington judging. He crafted it in a lighter style that focuses on purple fruit, and the 10-barrel lot received a charming treatment of oak that provides a lingering touch of vanilla throughout. Wonderful balance keeps the focus on the food-friendly juiciness rather than tannin, making for a rich and long finish. Enjoy at the on-premise Winemaker’s Grill, where suggested pairings include Steak Gnocchi and the Center Cut Filet Mignon.

For current tasting room hours, call the winery or visit its website.

200 S. Quetilquasoon Road, Manson

(509) 687-4000

Merlot

Archibald James Wine and Cider 2018 Merlot, Yakima Valley, $30 (75 cases)

Judges’ notes: Enology professor Seth Cohen left North Carolina after being recruited to North Central Washington by friends Bryan Noyd and Jason Schilling to oversee the wine and cider portfolios of Archibald James, starting with the 2018 vintage. Approachability seems to be a hallmark of Cohen’s winemaking, particularly with red Bordeaux varieties. This Merlot brings hints of black cherry, raspberry, chai spices and even Jolly Rancher grape candy. The structure is broad and elegant, backed by the weight one expects from Washington Merlot and an engaging juiciness in the finish reminiscent of cranberry cocktail and Rainier cherry. One of the judges simply said, “I love this wine.” The producer enjoys their Merlot with caprese salad, carpaccio or fresh pasta.

For current tasting room hours, call the winery or visit its website.

617 Front St., Leavenworth

(509) 255-3796

Merlot

Lake Chelan Winery 2017 Merlot, Lake Chelan, $42 (500 cases)

Judges’ notes: Two sites inside the Lake Chelan American Viticultural Area — Amos Rome and Top Mac vineyards — come into play with this Merlot by Oscar Castillo. It’s one of his largest single-variety bottlings for the Kludt family, and one that judges described as “a really pretty wine that is very approachable.” They also remarked on the brightness of the wine, a comment not often made surrounding Washington Merlot. Ripe black cherry, plum and Red Vines licorice are joined by other admirable qualities that include tobacco, strawberry leaf and a pinch of clove for spice. It earned five gold medals at West Coast competitions prior to the Wenatchee judging. At the Kludt family’s BBQ in the Vineyard, enjoy it with the Royal Ranch Bacon Burger.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

3519 Highway 150, Chelan

(509) 687-9463

Merlot

Cave B Estate Winery 2018 XXXIII Merlot, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $45 (97 cases) – Best of Class

Judges’ notes: The Roman numerals used to describe this Merlot project reflect the age of the vines planted by the Bryan family, so this bottling pulled from 33-year-old vines. Freddy Arredondo works with a block of Merlot established in 1986, and he’s turned it into a remarkable example of estate “old vine” Merlot, one of the few in Washington state. (History will remember that famed winemaker André Tchelistcheff recommended the Bryans to invest in the grape.) It’s youthful and ebullient with notes of Bing cherry, raisin and white pepper that include some Old World charm with a touch of leafiness. The lovely mouthfeel hits on a raspberry tea quality, capped by a bright and beautiful finish. Arredondo serves it alongside peppercorn crusted steak with a cherry compote and topped with crispy leeks.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

348 Silica Road NW, Quincy

(509) 785-3500

14356 Woodinville-Redmond Road NE, Redmond

(425) 949-7152

Columbia Gardens Urban Wine & Artisan Village

Gardens Way, 313 E. Columbia Drive #2, Kennewick

(509) 820-3710

Merlot

Stemilt Creek Winery 2018 Caring Passion Merlot, Columbia Valley, $26 (215 cases)

Judges’ notes: The Mathison family ties historic photos of ancestors to a number of their bottlings, including this gold-medal winning Merlot. There’s richness and depth to this expression of the 2018 vintage as blackberries, clove, leather and tar pick up a sense of slate and cedar. It’s a combination that coats the palate in a pleasing way that defines many of the top Merlots from Washington.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

110 N. Wenatchee Ave., Wenatchee

(509) 665-3485

Nongrape

Icicle Ridge Winery 2019 Razzamatazz, Columbia Valley, $50 (70 cases)

Judges’ notes: Next year marks the 20th anniversary of the opening of Icicle Ridge Winery, and this young blend of raspberry with Gewürztraminer has joined the lineup of more than 20 wines that are poured at the Wood family’s three locations around Leavenworth. Climber-turned-winemaker Jens Holsten is into his second decade at ICR. This Razzamatazz is a show-stopper that screams raspberry, blueberry compote and SweeTart candy. One judge remarked, “This was absolutely the most archetypical fruit wine of the group, and I would pour it on ice cream.”

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

8977 North Road, Peshastin

(509) 548-7019

821 Front St. #B, Leavenworth

(509) 548-6156

Other Red

Beaumont Cellars 2018 Reserve Petit Verdot, Wahluke Slope, $42 (130 cases)

Judges’ notes: Pete Beaumont has earned several gold medals with Petit Verdot in recent years, and he’s refined his approach with the bold red Bordeaux grape most often used as a blending component rather than a standalone wine. The Quincy winemaker sought to produce a more elegant example, and the judging panel believed that he achieved that. It’s a late-ripening variety, but that’s not a problem for any grape on the warm Wahluke Slope, allowing Beaumont to build a profile of Bing cherry, plum, jasmine and toast. The six-barrel lot began as a club member offering, but look for it in his Woodinville and Quincy tasting rooms. Enjoy with rich meats such as lamb and barbecued beef, spicy Asian food or robust cheese.

For current tasting room hours, call the winery or visit its website.

8634 Road U NW, Quincy

(509) 717-8885

19151 144 Ave. NE, Unit E, Woodinville

(425) 482-6349

Other Red

Martin Scott Winery 2017 Grace’s Graciano, Columbia Valley, $37 (120 cases)

Judges’ notes: The Scott family named a portion of their vineyard after granddaughter Grace and in addition to their Gewürztraminer program, they also use her name to help brand their Graciano. In many corners of the wine world this Spanish grape is a blender, but not at Martin-Scott, where it has become one of their most popular wines and a five-barrel lot. Dark purple fruit akin to blackberry and blueberry fill the nose and the mouth, where there are additional notes of black licorice, baking spices and a finish of Kalamata olive. This same wine picked up a Platinum from Wine Press Northwest magazine last fall.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

3400 10th St. SE, East Wenatchee

(509) 885-5485

Other Red

Sigillo Cellars 2019 Mourvèdre, Yakima Valley, $34 (120 cases)

Judges’ notes: Mike Seal and his son, Ryan, earned a reputation as “Rhône Rangers” by amassing five gold medals during this year’s judging. All of them revolved around red wines from grapes native to France’s Rhône Valley, and a trio of them shined a spotlight on Mourvèdre. Their source here is Les Vignes Le Tendre Vineyard near Red Mountain, which provides notes of blackberry, Red Delicious apple and cinnamon wrapped around mint and white pepper. While the grape is known to produce rustic and earthy wines, there’s a preponderance of fruit and spice within its smooth finish.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

2037 W. Woodin Ave., Chelan

(509) 888-5713

8086 Railroad Ave., Snoqualmie

(425) 292-0754

Other Red

Sigillo Cellars 2019 Petite Sirah, Yakima Valley, $36 (180 cases)

Judges’ notes: There are about 30 styles of wine among the 6,000 cases produced by the Seal family, and they’ve come to rely on Colin Morrell at Lonesome Spring Ranch for their Petite Sirah. Fortunately, the success and following for the big Rhône red at both their Snoqualmie and Chelan tasting rooms prompted the growth of production by about 50 percent from the 2018 vintage. Petite Sirah is far from demur, and the notes of blackberry, blueberry juice, white pepper and anise allow this to line up alongside some of the Northwest’s best examples. Enjoy with marinated lamb, braised beef with sweet spices such as clove or a selection of dark chocolate.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

2037 W. Woodin Ave., Chelan

(509) 888-5713

8086 Railroad Ave., Snoqualmie

(425) 292-0754

Pinot Grigio

Milbrandt Vineyards 2020 Pinot Grigio, Columbia Valley, $15 (2,000 cases) – Best of Class

Judges’ notes: The Milbrandt family wisely planted a wide range of grape varieties throughout the Columbia Basin, including Ancient Lakes sites such as acclaimed Evergreen and emerging Spanish Castle. Kendall Mix at Milbrandt-owned Wahluke Wine Co. benefits from making wines from those sites, and this Pinot Gris represents one of the most delicious buys in the state. It’s a pretty example with notes of facial powder, honeysuckle, lemon pound cake and pear. It’s full and round with a lively burst of citrus on the back, making for an ideal summertime drink. And at 2,000 cases produced, it shouldn’t be too difficult for lovers of Pinot Gris from Washington to track down.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

707 Highway 2, Unit D, Leavenworth

(509) 888-4636

508 Cabernet Court, Prosser

(509) 788-0030

14450 Redmond-Woodinville Road NE, Woodinville

(425) 949-7660

Pinot Grigio

Ryan Patrick Wines 2020 Pinot Grigio, Columbia Valley, $15 (2,225 cases)

Judges notes: Canadian expat Kendall Mix is largely known for his work with red wines after his time at Chateau Ste. Michelle, Corliss, Goose Ridge and Cadaretta, but this year’s judging in Wenatchee once again proves his versatility, especially with Pinot Gris. For winery owner Butch Milbrandt’s RP brand, Mix blended fruit from Holmason Vineyard, a cooler site in the Yakima Valley, with Evergreen Vineyard — a historic Ancient Lakes setting for white wine viticulture — to produce another stylish white. There’s the telltale sign of Ancient Lakes fruit with the wet stone notes that ride right alongside a broad spectrum of tropical fruit and honeysuckle. The palate includes lemon chiffon pie on the front half, followed by a blend of Granny Smith apple skin and Key lime peel as those green-fruited elements ushered this wine to a gold medal.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

707 Highway 2, Unit D, Leavenworth

(509) 888-2236

508 Cabernet Court, Prosser

(509) 788-0030

14450 Redmond-Woodinville Road NE, Woodinville

(425) 949-7972

Red Blend

Ancestry Cellars 2017 Provocant, Columbia Valley, $30 (511 cases)

Judges’ notes: A red blend with an approach that teeters between Bordeaux’s Left and Right Bank, third-generation winemaker Jason Morin has crafted a complex and complete wine using a melange of Cabernet Sauvignon (40%), Merlot (40%), Malbec (8%), Cabernet Franc (8%) and Petit Verdot. Alluring aromas of dark cherry, plum, rose petal and cedar are mirrored on the palate with a focus on plum jam and black cherry, framed by soft tannins and a juiciness that shows integration, complexity and age-worthiness. This ranks among his largest production wines, so it should be readily available at either his Lake Chelan tasting room in Manson or at the new Woodin Creek development in Woodinville.

For current tasting room hours, call the winery or visit its website.

50 Wapato Way, Manson

(509) 741-9006

13590 NE Village Square Drive #1035, Woodinville

(425) 435-6551

Red blend

Benson Vineyards Estate Winery 2017 Rhythm, Lake Chelan, $28 (375 cases)

Judges’ notes: Next year marks the 20th anniversary of the Benson family establishing their 28-acre vineyard at the expense of apple orchards, and the trio of gold medals in this year’s judging indicates the winemaking is in capable hands with Jared McGuffin. Here’s a melodic blend of Sangiovese (43%), Cabernet Franc (25%), Cabernet Sauvignon (19%) and Syrah that showcases the red fruit tones of the lead Italian grape. Strawberry, cranberry and white pepper make for a spicy red wrapped around a suave structure that finishes with the juicy flourish one relishes in a Super Tuscan-styled wine.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

754 Winesap Ave., Manson

(509) 687-0313, Ext. 106

Red Blend

Bianchi Vineyards NV Miscela Rossa Red Blend, American, $32 (220 cases)

Judges’ notes: Douglas and Kimberley Bianchi, inspired after a winemaking class at Port Gardner Bay Winery in Everett, moved to the Wenatchee Valley to join the wine industry. They established their young winery across a former orchard in East Wenatchee between the Columbia River and Pangborn Memorial Airport, and they credit neighboring winemaker Mike Scott with helping them with their young vines and wines. The Bianchis struck gold with this expertly crafted blend using Cabernet Sauvignon as the foundation. Aromas of blackberry, plum and cigar box don’t disappoint as blackberry jam and black cherry are hugged by well-balanced tannins, making for a long and richly flavored red.

For current tasting room hours, call the winery or visit its website.

4210 10th St. SE, East Wenatchee

(360) 815-6167

Red Blend

Chateau Faire Le Pont Winery 2017 Tre Amori, Columbia Valley, $44.99 (300 cases) – Best of Class

Judges’ notes: Wenatchee winemaker Doug Brazil long has been one of the Northwest’s leaders in red blends, and the Italian phrase is a fitting descriptor for this Sangiovese-based blend. The bold and juicy grape makes up 50% of the blend, which is marked by a theme of lavender, stewed plums, freshly sliced ginger and a deliciously long finish. Cabernet Sauvignon (33%) and Merlot provide the framework of the tannin. Enjoy with pasta dishes in a hearty tomato sauce or aged cheeses.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

1 Vineyard Way, Wenatchee

(509) 667-9463

636 Front St., Leavenworth

(509) 888-2108

Red Blend

Jones of Washington 2016 Barrel Select, Wahluke Slope, $24.99 (200 cases)

Judges’ notes: Value remains the hallmark at Jones of Washington, and here’s another blend of red Bordeaux varieties that ranks alongside bottles more than twice the price. Traditionally, the Barrel Select leans toward Cabernet Sauvignon from the family’s young Big River Vineyard not far from Mattawa with contributions from Carménère and Malbec, and notes of each appear within this snapshot of the 2016 vintage. Dusty red fruit is presented with great weight on the palate, which is plush on the midpoint and finishes with fruit and superb juiciness on the finish.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

Quincy Public Market

1004 F St. SW, Quincy

(509) 787-8108

Pybus Public Market

7 N. Worthen St., Wenatchee

(509) 888-0809

Red Blend

Lake Chelan Winery 2018 M11 Meritage, Columbia Valley, $65 (400 cases)

Judges’ notes: Oscar Castillo emerged from our judging as one of the region’s top talents with Malbec, picking up three gold medals across two brands for wines that feature the variety. Here, Malbec takes the lead (45%) in this take on a Right Bank Bordeaux blend from Amos Rome, Top Mac and Buoy vineyards, with Merlot (44%) right behind and Cabernet Sauvignon filling in. Cherries and chocolate pick up some crushed elderberry as the medium tannins ride just behind the blueberry acidity. “It’s nicely balanced with enjoyable fruit,” the panel noted.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

3519 Highway 150, Chelan

(509) 687-9463

Red Blend

Lake Chelan Winery NV Exclusive Red 8, Columbia Valley, $45 (554 cases)

Judges’ notes: Of all the wines from Oscar Castillo’s cellar that were entered into the North Central Washington Wine Awards this year, his nonvintage Exclusive Red 8 might be the most fascinating. Syrah tends to play a role in the Exclusive Red, and this edition is a blend not often seen — Syrah (54%), Pinot Noir (28%) and Tempranillo (18%). It’s easy to pick out some of the influences of each variety. Inky blue fruit, freshly cracked black pepper, saddle leather, pencil shavings and underlying earthiness transition into the finish of roasted meat. Set the table for anything off of the grill. Fortunately, it’s also one of Castillo’s largest production wines.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

3519 Highway 150, Chelan

(509) 687-9463

Red Blend

Sigillo Cellars 2019 Relativity, Columbia Valley, $32 (315 cases)

Judges’ notes: Five of the primary red Rhône varieties — led by Mourvèdre — historically make up the foundation of this proprietary blend, and the warm Wahluke Slope is the source for most of the bottling, which came within a whisker of a unanimous double gold medal. A basket full of purple fruit, lavender and violet comes with a real sense of Mourvèdre earthiness. Smoked cured meat, a squirt of Marionberry juice and pinches of pepper and allspice make for an elegant, rich and winsome wine.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

2037 W. Woodin Ave., Chelan

(509) 888-5713

8086 Railroad Ave., Snoqualmie

(425) 292-0754

Red Blend

Siren Song Wines 2017 Auberge, Yakima Valley, $36 (236 cases)

Judges’ notes: Co-owner/chef Holly Brown continues to draw upon her cooking school experience in Provence, and classes were taught in the type of a rustic farmhouse that the French refer to as an auberge. Brown’s winemaking husband, Kevin, crafts this Syrah-driven blend each year in tribute to that school, and the brightness of Grenache (15%) helps to give this wine delicious depth beyond the density expected from Syrah. Dark blue fruit, star anise and saddle leather come from the Syrah and black cherry from the Grenache as delicious barrel notes and Italian plum push through to the finish. Enjoy with lamb or Middle Eastern fare.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

635 S. Lakeshore Road, Chelan

(509) 888-4657

Riesling

Jones of Washington 2017 Riesling, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $9.99 (846 cases)

Judges’ notes: This four-year-old Riesling charmed the judges with its approach akin to fruit cocktail in a wine glass. It’s fully loaded with white peach, apricot and Bosc pear, joined by passion fruit and even Maraschino cherry. There’s an incredible lusciousness, and the touch of residual sugar comes with a bright pop of acidity in the finish. It’s among the four gold medals crafted by Victor Palencia with Jones family fruit — two for white wines and two for big reds, which displays the diversity of their portfolio.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

Quincy Public Market

1004 F St. SW, Quincy

(509) 787-8108

Pybus Public Market

7 N. Worthen St., Wenatchee

(509) 888-0809

Riesling

Tsillan Cellars 2020 Estate Riesling, Lake Chelan, $22 (321 cases)

Judges’ notes: Ray Sandidge, the dean of Lake Chelan winemakers, displayed his versatility during this year’s judging by earning acclaim for his work with Syrah, a historic cool-climate rosé and this predictably delicious Riesling from one of the region’s oldest plantings. The theme is one of orange marmalade, honeysuckle and lavender, capped by balancing citrus notes of lemon pith and orange peel. “A beautiful wine” remarked one judge.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

3875 Highway 97A, Chelan

(509) 682-9463

19255 Woodinville-Snohomish Road NE, #3, Woodinville

(425) 482-5976

Rosé

Lake Chelan Winery 2019 Rosé, Columbia Valley, $24 (500 cases)

Judges’ notes: Syrah from Buoy Vineyard in eastern end of the Yakima Valley is used for this delightful expression of rosé that’s just below 1% residual sugar — making it a touch off-dry. Aromas of strawberry, dried raspberry, rose petal and apricot are followed by plump boysenberry and Craisins, a tantalizing combination of reddish fruit that brings brightness and a pleasing finish. At the BBQ in the Vineyard, suggested pairings include Apricot Teriyaki Chicken, the BBQ Rib Sandwich and Cajun Prawn Skewers.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

3519 Highway 150, Chelan

(509) 687-9463

Rosé

Tunnel Hill Winery 2020 Estate Malbec Rosé, Lake Chelan, $23 (98 cases)

Judges’ notes: Michelle Fanton’s work with Malbec on behalf of the Evans family turned into a pair of gold medals, including this beautifully colored and structured rosé made using a bit of Viognier (15%). While the hints hit on a wide range of fruit — strawberry/rhubarb, raspberry and apricot — it’s no fruit bomb. Rather, it’s elegant, dry and drinkable with a note of wet slate in the finish.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

37 Highway 97A, Chelan

(509) 682-3243

Sangiovese

Bergdorf Cellars 2016 Sangiovese, Columbia Valley, $32 (140 cases)

Judges’ notes: Leavenworth vintner Jack Delvo helped popularize glühwein in this Bavaria-themed mountain getaway, but his bottled red wines continue to attract attention with a bit of time in the cellar of his young Crush Haus just outside of town. This 5-year-old Sangiovese is proof of that. There’s a big welcome of toasted oak, which plays deliciously with dark cherry and cranberry notes. The food-friendly juicy red fruit structure gives this a long trail of acidity, topped off with a scrape of vanilla bean.

For current tasting room hours, call the winery or visit its website.

939 Front St., Leavenworth

(509) 548-7638

Sangiovese

Errant Cellars 2016 Sangiovese, Columbia Valley, $24 (96 cases) – Best of Class

Judges’ notes: A number of the state’s premier producers are based near the Columbia Basin town of Quincy, and winemaker Megan Couture-Bates continues to show that her young project fits nicely in this community. Her work with the Italian red Sangiovese proves what extra time in barrel and bottle can do to the finished wine, and her patience paved the way to a deserved best-of-class award. The beautiful nose that is traditionally associated with Sangiovese brings hints of strawberry, red cherries and earthiness, a blend that comes to life with a flair of finesse and offers a smooth and long structure.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

15 B St. SE, Quincy

(509) 289-9422

Syrah

Cave B Estate Winery 2018 Syrah, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $30 (240 cases)

Judges’ notes: The gold rush by Cave B in this year’s judging included this bright example of a cool-climate Syrah from the cellar of Freddy Arredondo and his family’s vines. It’s loaded with huckleberry, blueberry and Bing cherry and includes a wonderful spice blend of nutmeg and cinnamon. The structure receives a great lift from blueberry juiciness and finishes with tobacco. The Arredondos serve this with Duck Confit or a hearty pasta with a cream sauce featuring pancetta, sautéed oysters and morel mushrooms.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

348 Silica Road NW, Quincy

(509) 785-3500

14356 Woodinville-Redmond Road NE, Redmond

(425) 949-7152

Columbia Gardens Urban Wine & Artisan Village

Gardens Way, 313 E. Columbia Drive #2, Kennewick

(509) 820-3710

Syrah

Eagle Creek Winery 2018 Syrah, Columbia Valley, $36 (144 cases)

Judges’ notes: Paul Sharpe earned two gold medals during this judging, and this red Rhône grape paved the way for both efforts. Syrah’s thumbprint of blackberry is at the core of this example, which makes for a very smooth drink. The farewell of cranberry and anise sets the table for a pairing with smoked pork ribs.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

617-4b Front St., Leavenworth

(509) 888-0299

10037 Eagle Creek Road, Leavenworth

(509) 888-0299

Syrah

Sigillo Cellars 2019 Syrah, Yakima Valley, $36 (210 cases)

Judges’ notes: Greg Letendre’s young Les Vignes Le Tendre Vineyard continues to help small, family-owned wineries win gold medals via the blocks of Syrah about five miles west of Red Mountain. And this is a warm-weather example of Syrah, best described as fruit-forward, soft, smooth yet nicely balanced. Blackberry, blueberry and a sprig of mint are splashed by additional touches of vanilla and tobacco.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

2037 W. Woodin Ave., Chelan

(509) 888-5713

8086 Railroad Ave., Snoqualmie

(425) 292-0754

Tempranillo

Lake Chelan Winery 2018 Tempranillo, Lake Chelan, $40 (350 cases)

Judges’ notes: Hill Vineyard is the site of choice for Oscar Castillo, and the longtime Chelan-area brewmaster/cidermaker who gained winemaking experience working with Ray Sandidge hits all the bases with this Tempranillo. Ripe blackberry and black cherry gather up sweet spice, toast and bittersweet chocolate from the oak. Notes of flint and cherry pit in the end add to the subtlety of this age-worthy red that’s incredibly versatile with a wide range of tapas.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

3519 Highway 150, Chelan

(509) 687-9463

Viognier

Malaga Springs Winery 2020 Viognier, Columbia Valley, $20 (75 cases) – Best of Class

Judges’ notes: Wenatchee Valley grower/winemaker Allen Mathews and his fans continue to benefit from the fascinating estate plantings at Malaga Springs, a high-elevation site across the Columbia River from the Scott family’s Needlerock Vineyard. Viognier is a white grape that often shows best in slightly cooler conditions, and that’s the case here. Despite the 1,700 feet of elevation, it achieves the ripeness level to set the stage with a nose of banana, honeydew melon, rose petal and pie spices. There’s the grape’s classic orange Creamsicle flavor on the entry, followed by more banana and melon. Ample acidity makes for a light and delicate finish.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

345 Cathedral Rock Road, Malaga

(509) 679-0152

White Blend

Cave B Estate Winery 2020 Cuvée Blanc, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $27 (187 cases) – Best of Class

Judges’ notes: This blend of white Bordeaux grapes Sauvignon Blanc (60%) and Sèmillon serves as an appropriate 20th anniversary of the opening of Cave B, a realized dream of Dr. Vince Bryan and wife Carol that began with their trips to France. It’s a beautiful and feminine wine that begins with the dusty elegance experienced in so many of the whites from Ancient Lakes soils. Key lime, melon and apricot swirl around from beginning to end. The blend of fruitiness and lemony brightness makes for a long finish and an ideal foil for linguine and clams in an herbed butter sauce.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

348 Silica Road NW, Quincy

(509) 785-3500

14356 Woodinville-Redmond Road NE, Redmond

(425) 949-7152

Columbia Gardens Urban Wine & Artisan Village

Gardens Way, 313 E. Columbia Drive #2, Kennewick

(509) 820-3710

White Blend

Rio Vista Wines 2020 Wacky White, Columbia Valley, $24 (200 cases)

Judges’ notes: In the past, the Little family’s proprietary blend featuring Chardonnay leaned on Viognier for support. From last year’s vintage, however, is a compilation of Chardonnay, Viognier (25%) and Sauvignon Blanc (25%), and the involvement of that white Bordeaux really brings this to life. Peach, apple and pineapple are joined by a snap of lemon zest, and the drink remains lively beyond the finish of Honeycrisp apple peel.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

24415 Highway 97, Chelan

(509) 682-9713

224 E. Wapato Way, Manson

(509) 687-1179