How We Choose the Winners of the Seattle Magazine Wine Awards

More than a dozen experts help us select the best Washington wines of the year

By Seattle Magazine Staff


July 14, 2018

This article originally appeared in the August 2018 issue of Seattle Magazine.

Seattle magazine Washington Wine Awards 2018 tasting panel from the March 19, 2018 tasting, which took place at Metropolist. From left to right: Yashar Shayan, Seattle magazine and Impulse Wine; Cole Sisson, Doe Bay Wine Company; Jeff Cox, PCC; Chris Horn, Purple Cafe and Wine Bar Seattle; Shelly Fitzgerald, Columbia Winery; Annie Sullivan, Anthony’s Restaurants; Chris Lara, John Howie Steak; Mark Takagi, Metropolitan Market; Katelyn Peil, Heavy Restaurant Group; Tyler Alden, Purple Cafe and Wine Bar; Michael Savage, Savage Grace Wines; Timothy Donahue, Walla Walla Community College and College Cellars of Walla Walla; Paul Swanson, RN74; Jeff Lindsay-Thorsen, W.T. Vintners and RN74; and Paul Zitarelli, Full Pull Wines and Seattle magazine. Not pictured: Lenny Redé, Esquin Wine and Spirits; Erica Orr, Orr Wines

This article appears in print in the August 2018 issue as part of the 13th Annual Seattle Magazine Wine AwardsClick here to subscribe.


Nominations for this year’s Washington Wine Awards were solicited via survey from a panel of Washington wine and food professionals. Nominees that receive the most votes in the categories of wineries, winemaker, vineyard and sommelier were selected as winners.

The more than 100 wines receiving the most votes in the varietal categories qualified as finalists for a blind tasting held on March 19, 2018. That tasting was conducted by a panel of 16 industry professionals, and the finalists were scored using a 20-point system, being awarded points for their appeal in sight, smell and taste. The wine with the most points in each category won. Winners in each varietal category were eligible to win Wine of the Year. Wine of the Year winners in red, white and rosé wine categories were selected via a show of hands after a second tasting of the winners in 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 in categories of Best Restaurant to Experience Washington Wine and Retail Wine Steward of the Year, presented in partnership with Washington State Wine Commission, were selected from nominees put forth by our nominating panel and from our readers’ poll. The final winners were determined by our steering committee.

The Walter Clore Washington Honorarium is bestowed upon an individual by the Washington State Wine Commission and is 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 interstate 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 the grape variety that is grown in Washington state.
Seattle magazine’s Washington Wine Awards program is produced by Yashar Shayan.

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