Sunset’s Western Wine Awards
Bob Dickey

Some of the West Coast’s finest wines and top wine professionals were honored last Friday evening at Sunset Magazine’s Western Wine Awards. The vinous affair, attended by both consumers and wine cognoscenti, took place in an elegant, Gatsby-esque tent over the water on the Pismo Beach pier. The awards ceremony formed the first portion of Sunset’s Savor the Central Coast event, a four-day food and wine experience celebrating the region’s bounty.

Sara Schneider, Sunset Wine Editor
Courtesy Photo

The magazine’s wine editor Sara Schneider and emcee Liam Mayclem introduced the nominated wines and announced the winners in each price category as winemakers poured samples of the top selections and regional restaurants offered food pairings. Winners, Schneider explained, were selected by a panel of 25 judges from more than 500 California, Washington, Oregon, and New Mexico wines. Some of the more local producers nominated included Andrew Murray, Beckmen, Clayhouse, Hahn, Liberty School, Project Paso, Qupe, Tablas Creek, and Villa Creek.

Three Central Coast reds received top honors in their price categories, revealing the remarkable quality-to-cost relationship of the region’s Rhône varietals. Project Paso’s 2009 Red Wine Blend won in the $15 and Under Red category, Qupe’s 2009 Central Coast Syrah captured the $16-$22 Red category, and Villa Creek’s 2009 “Willow Creek Cuvée” Grenache Blend was honored among the $41-60 reds.

“In general, Central Coast Rhônes represent a very good value,” explained Qupe owner/winemaker Bob Lindquist. “The Central Coast is the best area in California for syrah and by extension other Rhône varietals.” Sunset’s judging panel seemed to concur.

Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Allen Shoup, Long Shadows, Washington
Bob Dickey

Later in the evening Allen Shoup, former CEO of Chateau Ste. Michelle in Washington State and current managing partner of Long Shadows Vintners and The Benches at Wallula Gap, graciously accepted the magazine’s lifetime achievement award. He was recognized for his ongoing efforts to advance the quality and reputation of Washington wines. Sunset’s Winemaker of the Year was awarded to Isabelle Meunier of Eveningland Vineyards. The magazine’s Sommelier of the Year honor went to Terry Threlfall of Vancouver’s Hawksworth Restaurant for his exceptional list and talent for “making people truly excited to discover wine.”

As the event’s attendees sipped and mingled, many came to the conclusion that although it’s not every day that one gets to watch the sun set over the Pacific with a glass of award-winning wine in hand, maybe it should be.

Here’s a list of the finalists and, in bold, the winners:

$15 and under


Gruet Blanc de Noirs (New Mexico (Lower Rio Grande, New Mexico)

Clayhouse 2010 “Adobe Pink” (Central Coast)

Liberty School 2009 Chardonnay (Central Coast)


Project Paso 2009 Red Wine Blend (Paso Robles)

Hahn 2009 Syrah (Central Coast)

Waterbrook 2008 Merlot (Columbia Valley)

$16 to $25


Navarro 2010 Estate Dry Gewürztraminer (Anderson Valley)

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2009 “Eroica” Riesling (Columbia Valley)

King Estate 2009 Domaine Pinot Gris (Oregon)


Bob Lindquist, Qupe, who won for his Syrah.
Bob Dickey

Qupé 2009 Syrah (Central Coast)

Beckmen 2009 “Cuvée le Bec” (Santa Ynez Valley)

Porter Creek 2009 Old Vine Carignane (Mendocino County)

$26 to $40


Bob Lindquist, Qupe, and Robert Sinskey, Robert Sinskey, accepting awards.
Bob Dickey

Robert Sinskey 2010 Scintilla Sonoma Vineyard “Abraxas” Vin de Terroir (Los Carneros)

Ponzi 2008 Reserve Chardonnay (Willamette Valley)

Tablas Creek 2009 “Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc” (Paso Robles)


St. Innocent 2009 Zenith Vineyard Pinot Noir (Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley)

Andrew Murray Grenache Blend, one of three finalists in his category, but didn't win
Bob Dickey

Andrew Murray Vineyards 2008 “Espérance” (Central Coast)

Saddleback Cellars 2007 Old Vine Zinfandel (Napa Valley)

Stone Edge Farm 2007 “Surround” Cabernet Sauvignon (Sonoma Valley)

$41 to $60


Woodward Canyon 2010 Chardonnay (Washington State)

Shafer 2009 Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay (Carneros, Napa Valley)

Suacci Carciere 2008 Heintz Vineyard Chardonnay (Russian River Valley)


Villa Creek 2009 “Willow Creek Cuvée” Grenache Blend (Paso Robles)

Chehalem 2008 Reserve Pinot Noir (Ribbon Ridge)

Peay 2008 “Les Titans” Syrah (Sonoma Coast)

$61 and over


Robert Mondavi Winery 2009 To Kalon Vineyard “I Block” Fumé Blanc (Oakville)

Bergström 2009 “Sigrid” Chardonnay (Willamette Valley)

Schramsberg 2004 “J. Schram” Brut (North Coast)


Anomaly 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon (St. Helena, Napa Valley)

Domaine Drouhin 2007 “Laurène” Pinot Noir (Dundee Hills)

Gramercy 2009 “John Lewis” Syrah (Walla Walla Valley)

Rubicon 2007 Cabernet Blend (Rutherford, Napa Valley)

Sommelier of the Year

Terry Threlfall, Hawksworth Restaurant, Vancouver, BC

Dawn Smith, Cafe Juanita, Seattle

Bobby Stuckey, Frasca Food and Wine, Boulder

Winery Tasting Room of the Year

Most Beautiful:

Denner, Paso Robles

Colene Clemens, Willamette Valley

Copain, Sonoma County

Best for Spending a Whole Day:

Raymond, Napa Valley

Conn Creek, Napa Valley

Medlock Ames, Sonoma County

Most Entertaining:

Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Sonoma County

Kaz Vineyard & Winery, Sonoma County

Sarloos & Sons, Los Olivos

Winemaker of the Year

Isabelle Meunier, Evening Land, Oregon

Caleb Foster, Buty, Walla Walla

Vanessa Wong, Peay, Sonoma Coast

Lifetime Achievement Award

Allen Shoup, Long Shadows, Washington


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