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  • Whatcom Beer and Wine

Joseph Christy Vineyards 2017 Syrah Wins Best of Show Honors at Wine Festival's Judged Competition

Updated: Sep 13, 2020

Like so many other events during 2020, the Fifth Annual Bellingham Northwest Wine Festival Grand Public Tasting was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But this year’s Festival has a happy ending of sorts. The event’s organizers, the Whatcom Beer and Wine Foundation, proceeded with the judged competition portion of the Festival. And wineries responded in a big way…surpassing last year’s total entries and proving the resilience of the wine industry in spite of some difficult economic conditions.

The 2020 competition included 274 wines from 65 different wine labels, a 40-percent increase in the number of entries from the prior year.

“We were absolutely amazed by the participation from Pacific Northwest wineries,” said Dan Radil, the Foundation’s President and moderator of the judged competition. “In a year when it would have been completely understandable for wineries to take a break from competing, we received a record number of wines and were still able to raise over $5,000 to distribute to our beneficiary organizations.”

This year’s Best in Show honors went to the Joseph Christy Vineyards 2017 Estate Syrah. The boutique winery, located about 40 miles south of the Tri-Cities, is situated near the Columbia River in Washington’s Horse Heaven Hills AVA. The Syrah is the only wine that the winery produces under the Joseph Christy label.

Seventeen other wines received double gold awards (unanimous gold from the panel of judges) and 65 wines earned gold medal honors.

Radil says that regardless of any restrictions or limitations on future Grand Public Tastings, the judged competition will continue as scheduled in July of 2021.

“We have plans to expand the judging, provide more cross-marketing benefits to participating wineries, and continue to grow this portion of the Festival each year,” he said.

A complete list of all 2020 medal winners is available at

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