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2022 Judging and Competition Results

The 7th Annual Bellingham Northwest Wine Competition was another record-breaking event! 103 wineries from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho entered 482 wines in this year’s competition, held over a four-day period that concluded on July 9, 2022. The number of wines easily bested last year’s previous record total of 351 entries.

Twenty-six wineries joined the competition for the first time, including Great Northwest Wine Magazine’s 2022 Washington Winery of the Year, Westport Winery Garden Resort; 2022 Washington Winery to Watch, Liberty Lake Wine Cellars; 2022 Oregon Winery of the Year, Chris James Cellars; and multi-Platinum award-winner, Clearwater Canyon Cellars from Idaho.

Wineries were rewarded with an amazing and well-deserved 154 Double Gold medals. A Double Gold is achieved when each of the four judges on the tasting panel awards the wine a Gold medal, making it a unanimous choice.

Best in Show honors went to the Thurston Wolfe Winery 2021 PGV Pinot Gris-Viognier. Prosser, Washington Owner/Winemaker Dr. Wade Wolfe is no stranger to Best in Show awards; his 2016 Petit Verdot also took top honors in the competition three years ago.

Although he’s been making the Pinot Gris-Viognier blend since about 1998, Wolfe says he’s always hesitant to enter it in a competition because the blend (the 2021 vintage was 50/50) usually doesn’t fit neatly into a judging category.

But the wine has always been a favorite among consumers. In fact, it’s become so popular Wolfe has steadily expanded his original production of 100 cases to last year’s highest level: 3,500 cases.

With the 2021 PGV scored as a “favorite” of this year’s judging panel as well, it becomes the first white wine recognized as an outright Best in Show winner in the Competition’s history. 

In addition to his 98-point Best in Show PGV, Wolfe also received a remarkable six Double Golds and three Golds for his other nine entries.

Other notable achievements in the 2022 Competition included a 97-point, Double Gold wine from five individual wineries: Chris James Cellars in Carlton, Oregon, Clearwater Canyon Cellars in Lewiston, Idaho, Bellingham, Washington’s Dynasty Cellars, Red Mountain’s Hedges Family Estate, and Zerba Cellars in Milton-Freewater, Oregon.

Several wineries earned multiple Double Gold medals including Chelan Ridge Winery (six), Succession Wines (five), CR Sandidge Wines (four), and Mellisoni Vineyards (four), all from the Lake Chelan area; Westport Winery Garden Resort from Aberdeen, Washington (five); L’atitude 47 from Walla Walla (four), and Chris James Cellars (four).

The Whatcom Beer and Wine Foundation is pleased to announce that next year’s 8th Annual Judged Competition will move from Bellingham to Walla Walla and become the Pacific Northwest Wine Competition. The event will continue its tradition of honoring the region’s top wines while raising funds for its designated beneficiaries. More details to follow in the months ahead. 

Judges For Our 2022 Competition

Each year's judging panel is comprised of wine industry and industry-related professionals from the Pacific Northwest including winemakers, distributors and retailers, sommeliers, educators, and restauranteurs.

All wines are blind-tasted and awarded bronze, silver, gold, or double gold (unanimous gold) medals by our panel of judges. Commensurate point scores are then awarded by the panel moderator.

Amberleigh Brownson

  • Extensive work in management and wine development programs for restaurants in Whatcom County

  • Director of Operations for Leader Block Wine Co. & Eatery, a 2019, 2020, and 2021 Recipient of the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence

  • Guild of Master Sommeliers Level 1

  • Past judge for Great Northwest Wine, Sip Northwest, and the Seattle Wine Awards

Christina White

  • Specialist of Wine Certification from San Francisco Wine School and Tasting Room Certification from Washington State University

  • Current and active member of the Wine Scholar Guild

  • Over seven years in the Washington wine industry including tenures at Succession Wines, Mellisoni Vineyards, and Callan Cellars, where she currently works at the winery's Chelan tasting room.


Jeff Peda

  • Over 35 years of experience in the wine industry’s wholesale and supply sectors, working with both domestic and international wineries and brands

  • Managing partner of VinCru USA, a sales and marketing agency he established in 2016

  • Past judge for the Seattle Wine Awards


Leigh McMillan

  • Graduate of Washington State University Viticultural and Enology Program, where she earned her Enology Certificate in 2009

  • Traveled extensively to France’s wine regions, which influenced and developed her winemaking style

  • Winemaker and co-owner of Welcome Road Winery, with tasting room locations in Seattle and Bellingham


Maria “Mele” Sosa

  • Graduate of Chile’s Catholic University with a degree in Viticulture and Oenology

  • Past work at UC Davis’ Viticultural and Oenology and Food Science Departments, Spring Mountain Winery in St. Helena, California as assistant winemaker, and Carolina Wine Brands in Chile

  • Currently resides in Issaquah, Washington and serves as Brand Ambassador for Uruguay’s Bodega Garzon


Tim Fuller

  • Over 25 years of experience developing wine programs for Bellingham-area restaurants

  • Four years in wine industry retail at Compass Wines, Anacortes

  • Past judge for the Northwest Wine Summit and for the Bellingham Northwest Wine Competition since its inception


Tracy Olney

  • Nearly 20 years of wholesale and retail experience in the wine industry

  • Member of the Society of Wine Educators and Certified Educator of Wine

  • Founder of her own wine club, which has been operating continuously since 1991 and focuses on helping women become more confident and educated wine buyers


Dan Radil (Moderator)

  • Wine educator at Bellingham Technical College for 15 years

  • Writer of his own wine blog for over 15 years and currently a free-lance contributor to Great Northwest Wine and Bellingham Alive magazines and DiscoverWashingtonWine. com

  • Past judge for the Northwest Wine Summit and Great Northwest Wine Platinum Awards

Note: Judges McMillan and White were not permitted to judge wines for wineries from which they own or are associated, respectively.

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