12th Annual Washington State Wine Awards

12th Annual Washington State Wine Awards Honors Food and Wine Leaders

by L.M. Archer

Washington Wine Commission honored wine and food industry leaders at the 12th annual Washington State Wine Awards on Monday, January 26, 2014 at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall.

Washington State Wine President Steve Warner and staff organized the elegant, four-hour extravaganza featuring wine tasting from over 70 Washington state vintners, gourmet nibbles, hob-nobbing, and awards emceed by Master Sommelier Rob Bigelow. 

Northwest food and wine impresario Jamie Peha of Peha Promotions, created the event twelve years ago to showcase Washington’s wine and food industry post 9/11.  Today, the Annual Washington State Wine Awards stands out as one of the most anticipated annual events for Washington wineries, retailers, distributors, hotels, tourism vendors, and restaurants alike.

Awards include Sommelier of the Year (Jeff Lindsey-Thorsen, RN74 Seattle), Restaurant of the Year (The Marc Restaurant – Marcus Whitman Hotel, Walla Walla), and the Walter Clore Honorarium (Bob Betz, Betz Winery for ‘an individual who has demonstrated dedication to the advancement of the Washington State wine industry.’

Washington State Wine Awards 2014: 

Walter Clore Honorarium: Bob Betz – Betz Winery

Sommelier of the Year: Jeff Lindsey-Thorsen – RN74 Seattle

Restaurant of the Year:  The Marc Restaurant – Walla Walla WA

Independent Restaurant of the Year: Russell’s –  Bothell WA

Restaurant Group of the Year:  Schwartz Brothers Restaurants

Best Event Featuring Washington Wine: Anthony’s Restaurants,  ‘Raise a Glass, Fund a Schoalrship’

Retail Group of the Year: PCC Natural Markets - Seattle

Retailer of the YearTotal Wine & More

Independent Retailer of the Year: Full Pull Wines - Seattle

Retail Salesperson of the Year: Dan McCarthy, McCarthy & Schiering Wine - Seattle

Distributor of the Year: Cru Selections (WA)

Distributor Saleperson of the Year: Jason Harris -Young’s Market Company (WA)

Hotel of the Year:  The Westin Bellevue Hotel

Tourism Champion of the Year: Tri-Cities Visitor & Convention Center

Tourism Concierge of the Year: John Cooper, Yakima Valley Tourism

Washington State Wine Commission deserves an award themsevles or a job well done. Cheers!

Thank you to:  Washington State Wine Commission

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Leave your comments below…cheers!



…in case you haven’t noticed, binNotes has a new look. That’s not all.  In October, binNotes changes hats at Lachini Vineyards to Guest Blogger during my upcoming studies in Burgundy and travels in France.

Look for upcoming October guest blogs at: lachinivineyardsblog.com.

In addition:

I’ve got some great events coming up, including attending Restaurant Zoe’s Burgundy Wine Dinner with Peter Wasserman this Monday, September 30th –  can’t wait to share the experience.

NOTE: Peter Wasserman’s mother is legendary  Wendy  Wasserman, a guest instructor at French Wine Society’s Master Level Bourgogne Program in which I’m enrolled. The Immersion program includes studies at Burgundy Wine School, guided by esteemed instructor Jean-Pierre Renard.

No, this isn’t an info-mercial. I’m just super-excited to geek out!

NOTE: WordPress has started incorporating random ads into sites of bloggers who do not pay to ‘opt out’, as a means of collecting revenue.  Regrets – those ARE info-mercials.


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Notes from the Tasting Room Trenches

After taking a bit of a hiatus from binNotes this summer to learn the business side of wine, I return to the keyboard not quite refreshed,  but definately more informed about the realities of the wine industry.

I’ve learned about retail and distribution and production, in addition to fluffy events and marketing.  I’ve interviewed, hired, trained, and sweat alongside tasting room troops. I’ve worked weekends, holidays, and evenings  throughout the summer while others play. And I don’t regret a minute of it.

Indeed – working the biz side has only strengthened my appreciation and respect for the wine world  - as art and as industry.

Bottom line: The wine industry is not for slackers.

At the end of the day, Pourers gonna pour. Drinkers gonna drink. Geekers like me gonna geek. It’s all good.

So the next time you belly up to the bar of a tasting room near you,  give it up to the folks behind the counter.

And remember: Pourers pour because they want to, not because they have to. Not a lot of cranky people in the wine industry.  Every day in a tasting room is a good day – and only gets better with each guest that crosses the threshold to share in The Joy That is The Juice.

Meanwhile, back on planet binNotes, bear with me as  I get back in the saddle of word-slinging while studying about Burgundian AOC’s, soil types, slope elevations, viticultural and vinicultural practices and exceptions…ALWAYS exceptions in Burgundy….before heading to France in October for my French Wine Society Bourgogne Master-Level Immersion Program, with time off for bad behavior in Paris and Avignon…

…So stay tuned for binNotes’ Adventures of a Wine Geek in Burgundy

Have a question about the wonderful wine region of Burgundy you’re dying to ask? Leave it below…and I’ll get back to just as soon as humanly possible! Cheers~


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Geeking Out

Hey there, dear readers! Later this week, I head out of Woodinville Wine Country, international wine destination and hot air balloon mecca, for parts south and east, as follows:

7/27-7/28: International Pinot Noir Celebration in McMinnville, OR.
I’ll be checking in at Lachini Vinyards in Newberg, OR., then checking out our new tasting room in Carlton, before making my way to the Sunday walkabout.

7/29-8/1: 2013 Society of Wine Educators Conference in Orlando, FL.
I’ll be geeking out with other Francophiles participating in the French Wine Society‘s Bourgogne Master-Level Program this October…plus attending some other cool seminars, and French Wine Night, sponsored by Wines of France… Santé!

Pinot…Burgundy…French Wine…pinch me!!! I’ll do my best to remain legible and recount events as they unpour…cheers!

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What I’m Spouting Now…425 Magazine

Actually, I’ve been too busy to write the past month, but I’ve been quoted in the July-August 2013 425 Magazine’s ‘Quick Trips’ Section on Woodinville Wine Country.

Check it out here. Kudos to Linda Jenkins for one fabulous article – cheers!

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Somewhere in WWC…

Dear Readers:
No, I am not gone, nor have I forgotten you…it’s just that my day job has temporarily taken my writing life hostage, and refuses to negotiate…I’m sure many of you know the drill: interviewing, hiring and training staff; events scheduling, organization and management; working weekends and holidays delivering ‘Pinots Worth Coveting’ to appreciative audiences, plus the odd distribution run and special events surprise…I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but maybe it’s just be the lights of an oncoming car…

Anyway,  thanks for staying true, and staying tuned for my next post, which must and WILL be about writing and wine, not writing and whine. In the meantime, keep on enjoying wine as an art, not just a beverage…Cheers!

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Play Boules!

So many events, so little time. Regrets for the lack of posts, but work has me running in twenty different directions…one of which is to research boules for our Bastille Day celebration…I’ll let you know what I find out…in the meantime, stay cool out there…Santé!

Spoiler Alert: Fork in Road


As some of you may already know, I started binNotes as an antidote to drudgery while writing a historical novel set in WW II Burgundy France. Here I could ‘play scales’ word-smithing while riffing on wine as art, not just beverage.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the novel’s re-write. I fell in love with Pinot Noir. I also fell in love with the industry, and not just the art, of wine.

A college professor once grudgingly told me that I had a ‘real gift for recognizing BS.’

Well, I’ve reached a fork in the road. I call ‘BS ‘on my passive sideline-sitting, writing content.

As a pragmatist and corporate escapee, I value the opportunity to work in the wine industry and understand the reality, not just the image. Hence my recent acceptance of a position at Lachini Vineyards  handling Marketing and Special Events.

As mentioned previously, I’ve worked hard to achieve actual, not fabricated, designations in order to write accurately about Burgundy in the book, as well as unleash my Wine Geek on this blog. I consider writing as essential as breathing.

But I also have an analytical side that needs care and feeding.

Just to reiterate: I will continue to write for freelance publications, and to post here – as long as it does not present a conflict of interest…

Thanks for your ongoing interest, understanding and support – Cheers!


Continue to subscribe to binNotes for links to forthcoming freelance and event writing on Sonoma County, Wine Region Eco-Travel, and  International and Regional Pinot Noir wine events.

To learn about upcoming wine events and wine tasting notifications:

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Why be a VIP when you can be a “ZIP”?

World-class wine region Woodinville Wine Country kicks off its new “ZIP” Program this week for Woodinville residents living in 98052, 98072, and 98077 zip codes.

Residents of Woodinville Wine Country’s surrounding area receive the ZIP Treatment, including purchase discounts and complimentary wine tastings to those residents who show their driver’s license at participating wineries.

Participating wineries include:
Alta Cellars
Ancestry Cellars
Brian Carter Cellars
Bunnell Family Cellar
Castillo de Feliciana
Convergence Zone Cellars
Covington Cellars
Cuillin Hills
Delille Cellars
Des Voigne
Elevation Cellars
Eye of the Needle
Gard Vintners
Goose Ridge Estate
Isenhower Cellars
J. Bookwalter
Lauren Ashton
Michael Florentino/Gecko Wine Company
Novelty Hill-Januik
Robert Ramsay
Silver Lake
Woodinville Wine Cellars

More info at:  Woodinville Wine Country or Facebook/WoodinvilleWineCountry.



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WITWIB? @LachiniVineyards!

binNotes moves to the Dark Side as a Tasting Room Associate for Lachini Vineyards in Woodinville Wine Country, pouring “Pinots Worth Coveting, ” effective this weekend.

What pouring at Lachini Vineyards means for binNotes the Blog remains uncertain, but binNotes’ author will continue to write on topics that do not present a conflict of interest until further notice.

Some personal observations:

I started binNotes the Blog as one writer’s avenue of appreciation for ‘wine as an art, not just a beverage.’

I studied hard to achieve designations and industry knowledge in order to credibly tell the stories I cover.

Along the way, my focus shifted from the wines to the wine makers and their communities, which my freelance writing in Palate Press showcases.

Wine makers merit attention. To make wine requires not only skill, but heart, soul, and cojones.

Making wine means staring down the muzzle of the loaded gun of Mother Nature every year – who can be a real Mother.

Making wine means risking everything on red, when all your friends have played it safe on the penny slots.

Making wine means ‘manning’ – or ‘ womaning’ up when you feel you can’t plow one more row, lift one more pallet, sterilize one more tank.

When the tough get going, the tough get going to a vineyard.

I am so grateful to all the wine makers and industry leaders who graciously granted me interviews this past year, and honored  to tell their stories to the world.

However, wine is not just an art, it’s a business. Working at Lachini Vineyards brings me up-close and personal with the day-to-day wine industry, rather than viewing it from afar.

I look forward to you joining me on this next leg of my journey…and thank you for your support. Cheers!

The Drunken Cyclist – this especially means you!

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