Industry news and notables.

Keeping up on the wine industry can be a challenge. Whether the stories are local, national or worldwide, our goal is to provide information and articles that effect the Idaho wine industry. If you would like to read more, visit our PRESS AREA.

The resurrection of the Idaho Wine Competition

2/18/2011
It will be impossible for Wine Press Northwest to forget the number of entries in our inaugural staging of the Idaho Wine Competition.

There were 208 — like Idaho’s area code — making it the largest-ever judging of wines made in the Gem State.

Wine Press Northwest, our magazine headquartered in Kennewick, Wash., stepped up and partnered with the Idaho Wine Commission to revive the competition after a group of Treasure Valley wine lovers decided to discontinue the event.

However, the rush of entries into the Oct. 24 competition — which coincided with a hectic harvest — proved that Idaho’s winemakers want their wines critically evaluated.

“Wineries were thrilled to have Wine Press Northwest conduct the Idaho Wine Competition,” said Moya Shatz, executive director of the Boise-based commission. “The level of professionalism could not have been better, and we had fun. We look forward to welcoming back Wine Press Northwest this year and hope to make it a yearly event. As the Idaho wine industry grows, this competition is crucial in raising awareness about Idaho wine.”

In 2002, Wine Press Northwest staged a comprehensive tasting of Idaho wines at the College of Idaho. The industry viewed that as the largest gathering of Idaho wines, which were judged under single-blind conditions. Judges knew only the type of wine, not the producer.

Eight years later, master facilitator Hank Sauer conducted the judging using similar methods. The only requirement was that the fruit came from the Pacific Northwest. This time, the two panels included Treasure Valley entrepreneurs such as John Berryhill, owner of Berryhill & Co. Restaurant in Boise; Ilene Dudunake, proprietor of A New Vintage Wine Shop in Meridian; and Dave Krick, owner of Red Feather Lounge in Boise.

Their findings were published to the Internet almost immediately. Andy Perdue hosted a live chat with the industry and fans as he posted the medal winners to winepressnw.com. Several of the 26 wineries that entered contributed to the chat, and such promotion of results is believed to be unique among major North American wine competitions.

The panels combined to award five double gold medals (when every judge on the panel deemed a wine worthy of a gold), 13 gold medals, 51 silvers and 58 bronzes.

Fraser Vineyard’s 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Snake River Valley ($29) won best in show. Sawtooth Winery’s 2009 Riesling ($9), also from the Snake River Valley, was voted the best white wine. Ste. Chapelle’s 2007 Riesling Ice Wine ($30) earned the award for best dessert wine.

Sara Fink, marketing coordinator for the Idaho Wine Commission, said competitions such as this serve not only the winery, but also the consumer.

“Idaho is more famously known for our potatoes, but winning a medal from a wine competition hosted by a prestigious wine magazine is like putting a stamp on the bottle saying, ‘Wine-Lover Approved,’ ” Fink said. “When people are out tasting and buying wine, it helps them to know that ‘Yes, this is actually good.’ And wineries that win medals use them in marketing material. Consumers are drawn to the words ‘award-winning.’ ”

You can see a complete list of awards from the 2010 competition at IdahoStatesman.com/Treasure. The 2011 Idaho Wine Competition is scheduled for Sept. 26.

Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman are the editors of Wine Press Northwest, a quarterly consumer wine magazine that focuses on the wines of Idaho, Washington, Oregon and British Columbia. Learn more at www.winepressnw.com. Subscriptions to the quarterly magazine are $20 a year.