Categorized | Events

2010 Tri-Cities Wine Festival

This past weekend marked the annual Tri-Cities Wine Festival in Kennewick Washington. For those who aren’t too  familiar with WA – the Tri-Cities area lies near the heart of the Columbia Valley AVA – it’s in easy driving distance of popular places like Red Mountain, Horse Heaven Hills and the Yakima Valley.  The Tri-Cities wine society helps organize and put on this even which is essentially like a micro-Taste Washington event.

It’s setup with leading wineries from the greater Washington area as well as local food vendors – your price into the Grand Tasting event also includes whatever food is being served.

From my perspective, there was definitely an older-generation crowd at this event. Sure there were some younger folks as well but I think most of them either work for or have ties to the industry. I’m not sure how many of them were just simply drawn to attend – even thought I think all ages should be attending functions like this.


A few days before the Grand Tasting, there is a judging that takes place for any of the wines submitted – this year there was over four hundred wines to go through so the judges had their collective hands-full. It seemed to me, however, that pretty much every wine submitted got at least a bronze as the medals were being handed out like candy (I could be wrong on this) – tons of bronze medals and silvers with even fewer gold medals being awarded.

The surprise of the entire evening – to me any many others I know – was the fact that the 2008 Russel Creek Sangiovese won “best of show”. I suppose if you’re into over-extracted, over-oaked fruit-bombs than perhaps it’s your style of wine but not mine and many other wine drinkers I know of.  One could almost hear a collective “WTF?!” when this wine was announced as “best of show” – perhaps many of the wine judges have that oak-bomb-lovin’ palate – who knows?

Overall, however, the event was fun and a great way for people in that part of the State to taste a bunch of different wines. A few of my personal favorite wines of the night were:

  • Pacific Rim Sparkling
  • Tsillan Dry Gewvurtztraminer
  • Saint Laurent 2007 Cab
  • Smasne Cellars Carmenere
  • Cavu Barbera
  • Pontin Del Roza Vino da Tavola

On the web:

  • Scott Abernethy

    Duane: I've had a chance to browse the medal counts from this year and compare them to last year's results. In the final tally, out of the 424 wines judged in 2010, 162 Bronze (38%), 88 Silver (21%), and 35 Gold or better (8%) medals were given, for a total of 67% of wines getting an award. In 2009, there were 387 wines entered, with 75 Bronze (19%), 125 Silver (32%), and 95 Gold or better (25%) medals were given, or a total of 76% of wines getting an award.

    Therefore, all things considered, judging was much harsher this year than last year! The overall percentage of wines earning medals was down, but the big difference was in the number of Gold awards given. According to the judging panel, 5-8% of wines receiving a gold medal is right on track.

    Although I did not taste all the wines you mentioned above as your favorites, I am familiar with 4 of 6 and they are all very good wines. I also tasted the Russell Creek Sangiovese three times at the Wine Festival, and I thought it was a very nice wine. As with last year, the Best of Show winner was somewhat of a surprise, considering some of the great wines that were entered this year. It's up to the judges to pick their favorite wine, and if it doesn't match your favorite, that's the way it is!

    I'm sure that next year's winner will come as a shock and surprise to most of the attendees. That's one of the reasons we have wine festivals – to expose consumers to wines they have not tried before, expand their wine palates, and to enjoy the diversity of Northwest wines. Come back next year and give it another go!