Three Vashon wineries garnered a passel of medals in the Seattle Wine Awards earlier this month, considered the most prestigious wine recognition program in the state.
Palouse Winery, which buys grapes from Eastern Washington then makes its various vintages at a home-based establishment on the north end, won five awards, including three “double golds,” the highest recognition offered. The sweep was the best to date for the small winery, which began producing wines commercially in 2005, said Linda Kirkish, who owns the winery with her husband George.
Double golds went to Palouse’s 2008 Syrah, its 2008 Merlot Mystique and its 2008 Cabernet Franc.
“We’re really excited,” Linda Kirkish said. “We submitted seven wines and won five awards. That’s a lot.”
Another significant win was a double gold awarded to Maury Island Winery for its 2009 pinot noir, made by Island vintner Bill Riley with grapes grown on Vashon. Ron Irvine, owner of Vashon Winery and one of the region’s leading wine connoisseurs, said the recognition breaks new ground in the region — marking the first time a wine made from Vashon grapes has achieved such high honors.
“To win an acknowledgement for one of our Puget Sound-grown wines is one of the biggest accomplishments, in my book,” Irvine said.
Riley, for his part, said he was “ecstatic” to have won a double gold for his limited production of pinot noir. “These are big- time restaurant people. … They know wine, and they know Washington wine.”
“I’ve put a lot of work into this place, and it’s a confirmation that maybe it’s worth it,” he added.
But Puget Sound grapes still have a long ways to go before it has a solid track record in terms of producing good wine, he added.
“There’s some good potential here. But the weather’s doing some pretty strange things these days,” he said. “It’s just one year at a time.”
Additonally, Irvine won a bronze for his 2006 “Anniversary Reserve Red,” a Bordeaux-style wine.