Best Washington Wines: 2012 Award Winners

Because we don’t need other people to tell us that Washington makes great wine.

By Seattle Mag August 1, 2012


This article originally appeared in the August 2012 issue of Seattle magazine.

Winners listed in their respective categories:

Best Winemakers

Best Red Wines

Best White Wines

Seven hundred and thirty-nine wineries? Only four years ago, we were celebrating hitting the 500 mark. But since then, a lot has changed. The economy tanked, real estate foundered. People cut luxuries. But surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly), wine lovers stuck it out, drinking more wine every year than the last. And Washington winemakers are proving their mettle by making their businesses work in hard times, producing ever better wine, despite the climate—both economic and meteorologic. In 2010 alone, Washington wineries produced 11.2 million cases of wine, bringing 27,455 full-time jobs to the state—an $8.6 billion impact, all told—as well as setting the bar high for charitable giving, making $5.5 million in contributions to various organizations.

Amazing in these times, true, but it makes sense. Washingtonians have always had a “stay-cation” mentality: Why go somewhere else when home is so full of wonders to explore? Our state is growing in popularity in the wine world, gaining attention from Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast and many other publications. But we don’t need other people to tell us that Washington makes great wine. We can see it on our grocery and wine-shop shelves. We can sip it over locally raised beef at our neighborhood bistro. This year, Seattle magazine’s Washington Wine Awards honor some of our longtime favorites, and unearth some new ones—all proof that Washington wine is here to stay.

How We Choose the Best Washington Wines

Nominations for this year’s Washington Wine Awards were solicited from a panel of Washington wine and food professionals. Wines receiving the most votes in the varietal categories qualified for a blind tasting on March 5, 2012, conducted by a panel of 21 industry professionals, and were scored using a 10-point system. Information in the tasting notes was taken from the tasters’ descriptions of the wines.

Tasting panelists who are winemakers were excluded from voting in categories in which their wines were finalists. Finalists for Wine of the Year were wines in each category that received the most votes; the winner has the wine given the highest score at the blind tasting. Tempranillo winners were selected at a blind tasting on March 19, 2012, from an open submission of wines. Seattle magazine’s Washington Wine Awards program is produced by Anne Nisbet.

Our 2012 Tasting Panelists

Danielle Custer, Mobile Monte Cristo; Nelson Daquip, Canlis; Jeffrey Dorgan, Sullivan’s Steakhouse; Bob Betz, Betz Family Winery; Tommy Garland, QFC; Paul Gregutt, The Seattle Times & Wine Enthusiast; Chris Horn, Heavy Restaurant Group; Lane Hoss, Anthony’s Restaurants; Leslie Kelly, freelance food and wine writer; Kurt Krause, McCarthy & Schiering Wine Merchants; David LeClaire, Wine World & Spirits; Jeff Lindsey-Thorsen, RN74; Jason Marvin, Pike & Western Wine Shop; Sarah Munson, The Local Vine; Rebecca Murphy, Dallas Morning News & TexSom Wine Competition; Jamie Peha, TableTalk: Radio That Tastes Good & Peha Promotions; Yashar Shayan, The Willows Inn; Mark Takagi, Metropolitan Market; Tommy Thompson, Tulalip Resort & Casino; Paul Zitarelli, Full Pull Wines; Shannon Borg, Seattle magazine. 

In addition to the tasting panel, the following people served on our nominating panel, recommending finalists in each category.

Jen Doak, Brimmer  & Heeltap

Jameson Fink, Foodista

Christine Go, Magnolia Thriftway

Allison Helfen, The Wine Alley

Tim O’Brien, Salty’s at Alki

Thomas M. Price, Metropolitan Grill

Kyle D.T. Reynolds, Pike & Western Wine Shop

Erik Segelbaum, The World – Residences at Sea

Rand Sealey, Review of Washington Wines

Dawn Smith, Cafe Juanita

Erin Thomas, freelance lifestyle writer

Kevin Weaver, Haggen TOP Foods
Ron Zimmerman, The Herbfarm


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