And the submissions flooded in! 524 wines, 282 beers, 151 spirits and 139 ciders were sampled blind and judged by over five dozen leading local beverage experts who determined the top three in each respective beverage category. The tastings led to an all-inclusive, encyclopedic catalog of winners, which are detailed on the pages of the current 2016 Best of the Northwest print edition.
Below, the team at Sip Northwest pared down the master list of winners to share the wines, beers, spirits and ciders that took first place in the largest submittal categories this year.
For a chance to taste the winners of cider and beer, the magazine is hosting a tap takeover at the SixGill in Fremont on Thursday October 27, starting at 4 p.m. Entry is free, pints and pours are priced accordingly, there will be raffle prizes galore and cidermakers and brewers will be on site to answer all your questions. More details about the event are found here.
We encourage you to sip along and be the judge yourself: cheers to the Best of the Northwest!
1st Place: Benton-Lane Winery 2015, Willamette Valley
Origin: Monroe, OR
Character: One of Willamette Valley’s most established wineries, Benton-Lane farms exclusively estate fruit and they have their pick of sites from 142 acres of prime vineyard land. The generous warmth of 2015 leaps out of the glass, with orchard fruit, light honey and melon tempered with a fine herbal spicing. Lean and brisk, this finishes dry and bright. || $19 || benton-lane.com
1st Place: 50th Parallel Estate 2014, Okanagan Valley
Origin: Lake Country, BC
Character: Winery founders Curtis Krouzel and Sheri-Lee Turner-Krouzel consistently create reasons to make 50th Parallel a must-visit Okanagan winery — spectacular setting, sleek winery design, and of course, exceptional wines. Like this 2014 Chardonnay with fresh-baked brioche aromas that lead to apple blossom, a kiss of almond and mouth-filling stone fruit flavors. || $25 || 50thparallel.com
1st Place: Domaine Roy & Fils 2014 Incline, Willamette Valley
Origin: Dundee, OR
Character: From the second generation of the Beaux Frères founding partners, this full-bodied Pinot Noir draws round and ripe red fruit across a firm, spiced frame. With grapes sourced from six vineyards across Dundee and Yamhill-Carlton, multiple layers of earthy aroma and flavor intertwine through a lingering, unfined and unfiltered finish. || $58 || domaineroy.com
1st Place: Van Arnam Vineyards 2013 Estate Reserve, Yakima Valley
Origin: Zillah, WA
Character: This family-owned, small-batch winery in Zillah makes estate wines from their Yakima Valley locale, with the southern slope grapes enjoying views of Mount Adams and Rainier. This youthful, full-bodied and rich red is deeply concentrated with ripe, sweet black fruit, anise, dusty oak and rivers of ink. || $55 || vanarnamvineyards.com
1st Place: Lucky Envelope Brewing Beardless Brewer Red
Character: Prepare to be enchanted by the beer’s deep and beautifully red body alongside the red-tinged head that releases a sweet, bready aroma. Unlike many amber/red ales, the flavors are bright and not muddled. It’s slightly sweet and juicy, like a fresh-picked plum served with a slice of white bread, then a faint bitterness remains on the finish. || $5/16oz draft || luckyenvelopebrewing.com
India Pale Ale
1st Place: Fort George Brewery 3-Way IPA
Origin: Astoria, OR
Character: For its fourth annual collaboration, Fort George teamed up with Barley Brown and Melvin Brewing in this anticipated release. Hopped with Apollo, Simcoe, Citra, Mosaic and Galaxy hops in four different rounds, the 3-Way is a pale, slightly sweet beer with a compelling citrus fragrance strong enough to be detected all the way across the room. || $10/16oz 4-pack || fortgeorgebrewery.com
1st Place: Temple Distilling Chapter One
Origin: Lynnwood, WA
Character: This beautifully executed London dry style, which weighs in at 90 proof, proclaims its loyalty to juniper from first whiff to final drop, yet maintains the tippler’s attention throughout with flavors as diverse as mint, fennel, tea rose, citrus and lavender. It all comes together in a finish reminiscent of a pine forest dampened by sudden spring rain. || $34 || templedistilling.com
1st Place: Dry Fly Distilling Port Finish Wheat Whiskey
Origin: Spokane, WA
Character: Finished in huckleberry port barrels from nearby Townshend Cellars, this wheat whiskey is a treasure hunt of fragrance and flavor. On the nose, look for elements of maple wood and sage; as you quaff, the tongue is enveloped by dried fruit, rhubarb and spice; and last of all, traces of fig jam and brandied cherries surface to make for a memorable finale. || $33 || dryflydistilling.com
1st Place: Alter Ego Cider The Brute
Character: A couple of lauded winemakers started this urban cidery in 2014 (as their “alter ego” in beverage), fermenting small-batch Northwest fruit. A flagship cider for the artisan maker, this tipple is loaded in pure apple aromatics with golden raisin and earth notes on the palate that are struck with a bolt of crisp acidity and a rounded, off-dry finish. || $7/500ml || alteregocider.com
1st Place: Flatbed Cider Pear
Origin: Milton-Freewater, OR
Character: When local winery titan Ste. Michelle Wine Estates says it wants a cider, it gets a cider — and with mature, in-demand Northwest orchards to boot. One of its original offerings, the pear cider uses local apples and Bartlett pears for its clean, semi-sweet blend that plays fits with a koozie at a campfire as much as it does in a tulip glass next to Thai cuisine. || $11/12oz 6-pack|| flatbedcider.com
For the full lineup and details on winners, the print magazine issue is available here.