The third annual Washington Wine Restaurant Awards, hosted last night by the Washington Wine Commission and the Seattle Times Company, honored 51 Washington restaurants for their commitment to supporting the Washington wine industry. Launched in 2003, the program is designed to recognize restaurants that use innovative methods of showcasing Washington's quality wines.
"We saw a 10 percent increase in entries this year, and were extremely impressed by the creative restaurant promotions submitted," said Jamie Peha, marketing director for the Washington Wine Commission. "Not only did we have increased participation, but we saw more comprehensive programs aimed at consumer education and wine appreciation, showing just how dedicated our restaurant industry is to supporting Washington wine."
Wine philosophy, wine service, staff training, wine list creativity, point of sale materials, promotional activities and customer service were the criteria by which judges rated each entry. The evaluation team was made up of wine and food writers, Heart of Washington representatives, Washington Restaurant Association members, Washington winery members, marketing professionals and the Washington Wine Commission.
"Washington wines are truly world class and complement a wide variety of cuisine," said Gene Vosberg, Washington Restaurant Association president and chief executive officer. "We hope the Washington Wine Restaurant Award program will encourage more restaurants across the country to showcase the fine wines of our state."
And the Award Goes to....
The Herbfarm in Woodinville, Wash., won the coveted "Restaurant of the Year" award for its extensive wine list and food and wine pairing program. The Herbfarm co-owners Ron Zimmerman and Carrie VanDyck have been strong Washington wine supporters since the restaurant's inception in 1986. The restaurant maintains a cellar of more than 750 Washington wines, spanning three decades. They also have the largest selection of Pacific Northwest wines in the world. Chef Jerry Traunfeld's famed multi-course dinners are paired nightly with Washington wines, emphasizing the restaurant's focus on regional food and wine pairing.
Sazerac received the second annual Heart of Washington award for promoting locally grown foods and pairing them with Washington wines. Sponsored by the Heart of Washington, this award honors state restaurants showcasing the bounty of locally grown foods alongside Washington wines.
The Marcus Whitman Hotel received the second annual Washington Restaurant Association award for setting the bar in the Northwest for a comprehensive wine list that favors Washington, as well as holding an impeccable long-standing reputation for superb food and service.
Receiving the Walter Clore Honorarium award for supporting and promoting the Washington wine industry is Robert Bonina, sommelier and vice president, food and beverage, at the Washington Athletic Club. Bonina began studying wine during a family vacation to Seattle in 1986, and is currently working towards achieving a Master Sommelier certification.
Barking Frog took home honors for the Most Innovative Wine List for its focus on Pacific Northwest wines for the second year in a row. Their wine menu creatively expresses the wines' attributes by profiling taste versus variety. In 2003, the Barking Frog was honored as the Restaurant of the Year.
Two of Washington's favorite seafood restaurants, Anthony's and Elliott's, shared the award for Best Restaurant Event this year for their innovative oyster and white wine promotions. The judges were equally impressed with Anthony's "Oyster Fest" and Elliott's "Oyster New Year" events for their inventive promotion of Washington white wines. Anthony's was awarded Restaurant of the Year in 2004.
Salty's on Alki won the award for Best Restaurant Marketing Promotion for its "Washington vs. the World" tasting promotion and series of appearances on nationally syndicated radio show, "Have Wine Will Travel." Salty's is also honored for its ongoing commitment to hosting innovative Washington Wine Month promotions, including "Sexiest Syrah" and "Riesling Taste-Off."
Impeccable service, attention to detail and focus on customer service ensures each guest receives a memorable and delectable dining experience at the Salish Lodge and Spa, recognized this year for Best Dining Room Service.
Daniel's Broiler/Schwartz Brothers Restaurants won Most Improved Wine Program for its increased Washington wine selection, monthly "Meet the Winemaker" series featuring local winemakers, and Reidel stemware program.
Peter Donkonics of the Barking Frog took home the distinguished recognition of Sommelier of the Year. He has gone above and beyond to support Washington wines utilizing the restaurant's prix fixe menu to showcase innovative Washington wine and food pairings. In addition, he has added a consumer education component to the wine list.
Bin #20 Wine Bar & Restaurant and Northwest Vintage share the honor of Best New Program Launch. Located inside the Red Lion Inn in Pasco, Wash., Bin #20 recently retooled its wine list and now features 188 Washington wines with tasting notes and a dozen Washington wine flights. Their program was designed to reinforce the restaurant's location in the heart of Washington Wine Country. Northwest Vintage, a Puyallup, Wash.-based fine wine and coffee bar, is recognized for its all-Washington wine list and tastings surrounding community events.
Top honors, the Washington Wine First Awards, went to 32 restaurants for designating a Washington wine section, showcasing more than 35 percent of Washington wines on the wine list and more than 50 percent on the wine by the glass list. Restaurants showcasing a large portion of local wines in proportion to their global wine lists were also considered in this category. In addition, each of these restaurants feature Washington wines year-round through a number of promotional activities. Restaurants at this level and their category include:
Fine Dining Category Bistro/Cafe/Wine Bar
26 brix Barking Frog
Bella Italia Bin #20 Wine Bar & Restaurant
Canlis Campbell's Resort & Conference Center
Cascadia CreekTown Cafe
Daniel's Broiler/Schwartz Bros. Northwest Vintage
Elliott's Oyster House The Idle Hour Cafe & Steak House
Lake Cresent Lodge Tini Bigs Lounge
Salty's on Alki Valley Cafe
Salty's on Redondo Vintner's Inn & Restaurant
Sky City Waters Lakeside Bistro
The Berkshire Grill
The Herbfarm Hotel Dining Room/Club
The Salish Lodge ----------------------
Waterfront Columbia Tower Club
Whitehouse Crawford Marcus Whitman Hotel
Meadow Springs Country Club
Restaurant Group Ocean Crest Resort
---------------- Washington Athletic Club
Ten restaurants featuring more than 25 percent Washington wines on the wine list and at least 40 percent on the wines by the glass list received Washington Reserve Awards. In addition, they were active in at least two Washington wine promotions in 2004. Restaurants in their respective categories include:
Fine Dining Bistro/Cafe/Wine Bar
Ruth Chris Italianissimo
Seastar Restaurant & Raw Bar Restaurant Group
The Shoalwater Restaurant ----------------
Rover's Cucina Cucina
Hotel Dining Room/Club
Nine restaurants received Washington Select honors for featuring at least 15 percent of its wine list as Washington and 30 percent of the wines by the glass. These establishments also participated in Taste Washington Wine Month promotions. Restaurants in each category include:
Fine Dining Restaurant Group
Ponti Seafood Grill Tom Douglas Restaurants
Ray's Boathouse & Catering
An additional award introduced last year is the 80 Percent and Above Club, designed to recognize those restaurants whose wine lists are comprised of more than 80 percent Washington wine. Twelve restaurants received the honor this year:
Anthony's Restaurant The Berkshire Grill
Barking Frog The Idle Hour Cafe & Steak House
Bin #20 Tini Bigs
Campbell's Resort &
Conference Center Valley Cafe
Marcus Whitman Hotel Vintner's Inn & Restaurant
Northwest Vintage Whitehouse Crawford
About the Washington Wine Commission
The Washington Wine Commission is responsible for the promotion and development of the Washington wine industry, representing the state's more than 300 wineries, 350 wine grape growers and 30,000 vineyard acres. For more information about Washington wines, touring, and tasting opportunities, visit www.washingtonwine.org.
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