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Second Annual Seattle Wine and Food Experience Wine Awards Represent the Best of the West

Seattle Wine and Food Experience is pleased to announce the results of its second annual Wine Awards. More than 65 wineries submitted 190 wines for the awards in a variety of styles from red and white to sparkling and dessert. The wines were tasted and awarded medals by Great Northwest Wine’s tasting panel, led by longtime Northwest wine journalists Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman. The panel judged the wines under blind conditions, not knowing the producers, region of origin or prices. Wines were awarded gold, silver and bronze medal and 10 were given top honors:

  • Best in Show: Michael David Winery 2012 Cabernet Franc, Lodi
  • Best Red: Michael David Winery 2012 Cabernet Franc, Lodi
  • Best White: Franciscan Estate 2013 Equilibrium, Napa Valley
  • Best Sparkling: Gloria Ferrer NV Sonoma Brut, Sonoma County
  • Best of Class: 3 Horse Ranch Vineyards 2012 Reserve Merlot, Snake River Valley
  • Best of Class: Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2013 Destiny Ridge Vineyard Jet Black Syrah, Horse Heaven Hills
  • Best of Class: Darighe 2010 Proprietor’s Blend, Columbia Valley
  • Best of Class: Dussek Family Cellars 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
  • Best of Class: Michael David Winery 2013 Chardonnay, Lodi
  • Best of Class: Serra Vineyards 2011 Pinot Noir, Rogue Valley

“We don’t think about region when we are judging. We think about the wines, their balance, flavors and varietal tendencies. The Michael David Cabernet Franc was a classic and hands down the best red wine of the competition,” said Andy Perdue, editor and publisher of Great Northwest Wine. “It quickly rose above the others, thanks to a combination of varietal correctness, beautiful balance and combination of perfect ripeness.”

For a full list of award winners including gold, silver and bronze winners click here

“The awards program was created to give wineries an opportunity to have their wines tasted by top wine professionals on the West Coast,” said Jamie Peha, president of Peha Promotions, TableTalk Northwest and producer of SWFE. “Because Seattle Wine and Food Experience is open to all wine regions it gives wineries an opportunity to be tasted on a broader scale.”

The SWFE Wine Awards have garnered press of their own in Great Northwest Wine, Mail Tribune, Wine Business Daily and Woodinville Wine Update.

Pairing Wine, Food and Water with Acqua Panna and S. Pellegrino


Food and beverage go hand-in-hand, no matter if you are pairing a red with pizza, beer with a burger or cider with cheese. Take your pairings to the next level by adding water (yes, water).

The process of pairing food and wine with complementary water is referred to as “harmonizing.” Food and wine interact to impart different taste characteristics through each other, while water is meant to cleanse the palate, to enhance the interacting traits of food and wine.

Acqua Panna and S. Pellegrino together are known as the fine dining waters, found on tables worldwide in some of the best restaurants and in-home. These fine dining waters are widely appreciated by the leading figures on the global culinary scene for their ability to combine flawlessly in enhancing foods and wines.


Acqua Panna still a still mineral water encompasses the culture, heritage and refined elegance of the land from which it flows: Tuscany. A light-bodied water, Acqua Panna should be paired with soft, suave wines with moderate alcohol and food that is lighter in flavor and subtle in aromas. Acqua Panna’s soft balance is perfect with elegant flavors not too rich or structured. Brilliant and crystal-clear to the eye, on the palate it is pleasingly soft and balanced. Pair with the following:

  • Wine – Fresh & fruity white wines; White wines aged in barrels; Light, fresh rosé wines; Aromatic sweet sparkling wine
  • Food – Light pasta sauces; Delicate dishes; Seafood; Dishes high in saltiness


On the other the side of water pairings is S. Pellegrino, an italian sparkling mineral water. S.Pellegrino is meant to be paired with full-bodied wines rich in tannins and high in acid so the two liquids do not compete. Foods heavy in flavor and structure should be paired with water and wine with these characteristics. It distinguishes itself in its fine bubbles and subtle mineral aromas. Pair with the following:

  • Wine – Higher alcohol content rosé wines; Young red wines; Slightly-bodied red wines; Full-bodied white wines
  • Food – Spicy foods; Particularly sweet dishes; Strongly flavored, rich dishes, such as red meat; Bitter dishes, such as grilled meats

Click here for more information on harmonizing and tips on conducting your own water tasting.

Refresh and keep hydrated with Acqua Panna and S. Pellegrino at the Seattle Wine and Food Experience, Sunday, February 22!

Weekend Hobby Turns Into Winery For J Bell Cellars

Winemaking started as a weekend hobby for Wes Teslo. Now he heads J. Bell Cellars, a thriving winery in the Yakima Valley. This small, family-owned winery produces limited quantities in Zillah. The focus for the winery is on reds – Syrah and Cab Frank (yes, Frank), Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pino Rosé.

Teslo maintains that winemaking starts in the vineyard. J. Bell Cellars partners with select vineyard growers in specific areas to find quality fruit to meet his stylistic goals. He strives to capture the flavor essence of Washington’s world class growing region. To finish the wine, every drop of red wine made at J Bell Cellars ages in barrel 20 to 30 months in predominately French oak.

At the winery where the vibe is laid back and inviting. Adjacent to the tasting room an outdoor patio offers chairs and tables where guests can relax outside with a glass of wine while enjoying vistas of Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams.

Then there is more. The soothing fragrance of lavender, coming from the winery’s lavender field. This brings the spot all together making J. Bell Cellars a great picnic stop. The winery will also be open for the upcoming Pre–Spring Barrel Weekend, Saturday, April 18.

Check out J. Bell Cellars’ wine selections and chat with Wes at the Seattle Wine And Food Experience.

Ste. Michelle’s Riesling Revival

Riesling’s moniker of a being a sweet white wine is being shed. It’s the food friendly flavors, coupled with the transparent and diverse nature has positioned Riesling as the darling of wine in the eyes of sommeliers, winemakers and wine enthusiasts.

Since Washington state’s wine industry’s inception, Riesling has been a staple. It is among the largest planted varietals in the state, growing from a scant 10,000 tons harvested in 1999, to 50,500 tons harvested last year.

This popularity has been bolstered by the Eroica project, championed by Chateau Ste. Michelle and German winemaker Ernst Loosen. The program includes the opening a winery focused solely on Riesling production which is now the world’s largest producer of the noble German grape.

Endorsements of Riesling from noted notables including Jancis Robinson have further punctuated the high quality and good value of Washington selections.

This has helped to add to the cadre of Riesling enthusiasts who spurn the dated notion that all Rieslings are simple and sweet, perfect for granny’s favorite pre supper quaffer.

Instead Riesling devotees are embracing the refined, complex and luscious flavors ranging from dessert-worthy sweet to reception-quality dry.

Chameleon-like this versatile food friendly wine has further enamored the varietal with diners. Riesling is as comfortable while pairing with creamy sauced dishes as it is while serving as a companion for the complex spicy and sweet flavors of Asian dishes.

Stop by the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Tasting Bar at the Seattle Food and Wine Experience to explore this wonderful wine and take the Riesling Challenge.

Let Taste Monkey Help You Find Your Next Wine

Taste Monkey is a new site that will help you select wines that fit your personal tastes. What do they do? Think ‘Netflix ratings’ for wines. With Taste Monkey, you can rate wines you’ve tried, out of 5 stars. The more wines you rate, the more familiar Taste Monkey becomes with your personal tastes. For wines you haven’t tried, the more accurate the personalized ‘best guesses’ will be.

Read more

Cusine À La Bière with Stella Artois

The Belgian tradition of culinary invention and improvisation, combined with a love of hospitality, has resulted in an interest in finding the perfect match between beer or cider and food, a science they call Cusine À La Bière. Pairing beer and cider with food is much like pairing wine with food, some people prefer pairings of similar flavors while others enjoy contrasting veins of flavors.

“There is no wrong choice when it comes to personal pairing preferences,” says Diane LaVonne (pictured above), chef/owner, Diane’s Market Kitchen in Seattle. She will present tasting sessions at the Seattle Food and Wine Experience at the Stella Artois Bistro and Chef Stage.

Her presentation will tackle the notion of pairing beer and cider with food and take the concept well beyond pub food. The regional and seasonal dishes, using or paired with International beverages, include short ribs braised in dark ale. Another recipe pairs carrot cake with an elegant glass of hard cider. Attendees will learn how to create these dishes and taste each ingredient.

Americans are now discovering what Europeans have known for centuries. Beer and hard cider go well with a variety of dishes. Flemish food, found in Dutch-influenced northern Belgium, features hearty, rich and satisfying dishes made with almonds, dried fruit, nutmeg and saffron.

In French-influenced southern Belgium, Walloon cuisine features some of the world’s most famous chesses and yeast-raised Belgian waffles and pancakes, as well as rich Belgian chocolates. The best of Belgium is being presented at the Seattle Wine and Food Experience courtesy of Stella Artois. Four taps will flow with Hoegaarden, Leffe Blonde, Cidre and Stella Artois for tasting.

Stella Artois was originally brewed as a holiday beer. It was so well received, it became available all year. Six hundred years later, its long tradition continues from Leuven, Belgium. Stella Artois has exceptional clarity and an earthy Saaz hop character. It is brewed using only the finest of natural ingredients, including a unique Belgian yeast strain – a cherished secret that has been kwpt for years. The crisp, refreshing essence pairs well with intensely flavored Thai, Asian and Indian dishes. The bitterness and light body also help cut through and contrast cream sauces in pastas and semi-soft cheeses like Harvatri and artisanal cheddars.

The village of Hoegaarden has been a seat of brewing since the middle ages. By the end of the 19th century, the village of 2,000 inhabitants boasted more than 35 breweries. The hallmark white beer has a refreshing flavor and spice from Curaçao orange peel and a hint of coriander. The unfiltered, cloudy white beer with a thick, frothy head pairs well with salmon, white-fleshed fish and salads. Enjoy it Belgium style with “moules et frites” (mussels with shoestring fries).

Monks began brewing Leffe Blonde in 1240. The dry and fruity style, similar to red wine, has a delicate bitterness making it perfect to serve with meat and chocolate desserts.

Stella Artois Cidre is deliciously served in a wine glass with creamy and sweet oysters, grilled with an apple slaw, or a crab sandwich.

Chef Diane LaVonne will be at the Stella Artois exhibit to demonstrate the tasty pairings of beer and cider with food during the Seattle Wine and Food Experience.

Sharpen Your WÜSTHOF Knife Skills at SWFE

Since 1814, WÜSTHOF premium knives have been cherished around the world by restaurant chefs and avid home cooks. Having celebrated its bicentennial in 2014, the family-owned and managed company continues to pay homage to its unparalleled heritage in crafting cutlery of outstanding quality and precision. All WÜSTHOF knives are made in the company’s eco-friendly facilities in Solingen, Germany.

WÜSTHOF’s precision-forged and full-tang knives include several collections, such as CLASSIC, CLASSIC IKON, GRAND PRIX II and EPICUREAN. Also popular is GOURMET, a collection of high quality, laser-stamped, full-tang knives. All WÜSTHOF precision-forged knives include the company’s patent-pending Precision Edge Technology (PEtec). Using guided, state-of-the-art lasers and exclusive technology, WÜSTHOF premium knives are now 20 percent sharper, and maintain their edge for twice as long.

WÜSTHOF’s executive chef Michael Garaghty (a.k.a., Chef Mike – shown above) travels across the country teaching consumers knife skills, and proper use and care of premium knives. Chef Mike will be at the Seattle Food and Wine Experience to meet attendees and guide them in choosing the right type of knife for the task, and how to use proper techniques working with essential knives for everyday cooking, such as an 8-inch Cook’s knife, Asian-style Santoku and Nakiri knives, paring knives, utility knives, serrated bread knifes, and more. Chef Mike will also demonstrate numerous ways to hone and sharpen knives at home.

Visit WÜSTHOF at the Seattle Wine and Food Experience to meet Chef Mike, and purchase WÜSTHOF knives at special savings offered exclusively to attendees.