Local wineries crush syrah competition

Twelve of the 17 wineries winning top honors were from Walla Walla or used local grapes.

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WALLA WALLA - Walla Walla wineries and vineyards were runaway winners during a recent blind tasting of Northwest syrahs.

Of the 17 wineries that earned top honors during Wine Press Northwest's tasting, 12 were from Walla Walla or from wineries that sourced fruit here, according to an announcement from the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance.

The results continue to solidify Walla Walla's position as a quality producer of numerous varietals, said wine alliance Executive Director Duane Wollmuth.

"This clearly shows that Walla Walla is now being recognized as one of the premier wine-producing regions for a diversity of grape and wine varieties," Wollmuth said in the announcement.

For 25 years, he said, Walla Walla has built its reputation as a premier region for Bordeaux varietals, including cabernet sauvignon and merlot. But in recent years it has also started getting attention for other wines, such as syrah.

"We have come to realize that one of our strengths is diversity," he said.

Complete results of the judging by a panel of eight people will be published in the spring edition of Wine Press Northwest magazine available March 15 or online at winepressnw.com .

Of the 10 "Outstanding" ratings - the equivalent of a gold medal for the purpose of the judging - that were given to Walla Walla, three went to Dusted Valley Vintners, two went to Saviah Cellars and one each went to Adamant Cellars, L'Ecole No 41, Otis Kenyon Wines, Va Piano Vineyards and Zerba Cellars.

Two other wineries that used Walla Walla grapes received Outstanding rankings. One of them was Dayton's Dumas Station, which also tied for the top syrah in the judging.

As a result of the judging, 58 wines also earned "Excellent" ratings, or the equivalent of a silver medal. Twenty of those went to Walla Walla wines, and 12 used Walla Walla fruit.

This year's competition included 147 syrahs. Wine Press Northwest Editor Andy Perdue said in the announcement the results showed both an increase in the number of wines entered from the Walla Walla area and growth in the quality of the wines. In particular, he noted Dusted Valley Vintner's two "Outstanding" ratings.

"They continue to assert themselves as one of the finest syrah producers in the Pacific Northwest," he said.

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