Here’s How We Selected Our 2017 Washington Wine Awards Winners

Meet our tasting panel and the methodology behind our 12th annual wine awards.

By Seattle Magazine Staff


July 25, 2017

This article originally appeared in the August 2017 issue of Seattle Magazine.

Nominations for this year’s Washington Wine Awards were solicited via survey from a panel of Washington wine and food professionals. The top vote-getters in the wineries, winemaker, vineyard and sommelier categories were selected as winners (check out a list of the finalists that impressed our judges here). 

The more than 100 wines receiving the most votes in the varietal categories qualified as finalists for a blind tasting that took place on March 7, 2017. That tasting was conducted by a panel of 17 industry professionals, and finalists were scored using a 20-point system and awarded points for their appeal in sight, smell and taste. The wine with the most points won. Winners in each varietal category were eligible to win Wine of the Year. Wine of the Year winners in red and white wines were selected via a show of hands after a second tasting of the winners for each varietal.

Information in the tasting notes was taken from the tasters’ descriptions of the wines. Tasting panelists who are winemakers were excluded from voting in and writing about categories in which their wines were entered.

Winners of Best Restaurant to Experience Washington Wine and Retail Wine Steward of the Year were selected from nominees put forth by our nominating panel and from our readers’ poll. The final winners were determined by our steering committee. 

Photograph by Hayley Young. Seattle magazine’s Washington Wine Awards 2017 tasting panel from the March 6, 2017 tasting at Metropolist (from left): Jeff Lindsay-Thorsen of RN74; Seattle magazine wine writer Paul Zitarelli of Full Pull Wines; Jeff Cox of PCC Natural Markets; Thomas Price, Master Sommelier; Mark Takagi of Metropolitan Market; Rebecca Murphy of Dallas Morning News; Erica Orr of Orr Wines; Chris Horn of Purple Café; Katelyn Peil of Heavy Restaurant Group; Reggie Daigneault of American NW Distributors; Jeffrey Dorgan of SkyCity at the Needle; Michael Savage or Savage Grace Winery; Paul Swanson of RN74; Rand Sealey of the Review of Washington Wines; Cole Sisson of Doe Bay Wine Company; Chris Lara of John Howie Steak; and Chris Peterson of Avennia Winery.

The Walter Clore Washington Honorarium was chosen by an internal Washington State Wine commission committee. 

For wines to be eligible as a Washington wine for this competition, the winery must be licensed and located in Washington state or located within the boundaries of a federally recognized AVA that includes acreage in Washington. Also, a minimum of 95 percent of the grapes used in the production of the wine must be from a vineyard located within Washington state, or from one of the three federally recognized AVAs that include acreage in Washington state (Columbia Valley, Walla Walla Valley and the Columbia Gorge AVAs).

Best Vineyard Winner must be located in Washington. People, places and wine experiences winners must also be located in Washington. 

For a varietal to be considered in its category, it must be made with at least 75 percent of that grape variety, which must be grown in Washington state.

Seattle magazine’s Washington Wine Awards program is produced by Yashar Shayan.


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