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Monday, Sep. 15, 2008

Ten years after: Welcome to the Herbies

Unlike some magazines, there's no charge to enter the annual Wine Press Northwest wine list competition.

However, there is a change to announce.

Welcome to the debut of the Wine Press Northwest/Herbfarm wine list awards. In fact, the worthy restaurant that features wines of the Pacific Northwest will be recognized with "The Herbie."

There are reasons for this.

1) Ron Zimmerman, co-proprietor of the Herbfarm, created a dynasty akin to that of the Ming in China or the Celtics of Boston. Zimmerman won the overall title for the previous eight years, and we don't foresee anyone rivaling the Herbfarm's depth and devotion to the Pacific Northwest wine industry.

That said, part of our agreement with Zimmerman is that he can/will re-enter when he feels it necessary.

2) The domination of the Herbfarm made it difficult to create a fresh layout each year.

3) We wanted to spotlight different restaurants.

4) The timing seemed right. The Spring 2008 issue marked our 10-year anniversary as a publication, and the Herbfarm staff commemorated the occasion by playing host to a historic public Match Maker dinner with Ste. Michelle Wine Estates.

Each year, we use the wine list competition to determine candidates for future restaurant features. Restaurants among our Match Maker alumni are denoted with an E.

Best Northwest Wine List

Ocean Crest Resort Moclips, Wash.

Program: Nowhere near wine country, yet a delicious and affordable taste of all four corners. Seafood lovers find a solid selection of Oregon Pinot Gris and Washington Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Riesling. British Columbia checks in with Mission Hill (Oculus, Chardonnay), Osoyoos LaRose and Tinhorn Creek dessert (Kerner). Idaho has Ste. Chapelle (Chenin Blanc, Riesling). More than 50 Pinot Noirs from Oregon.

Policies: New wine director Stephen Pavletich maintains tradition. Two dozen wines by the glass include Domaine Ste. Michelle brut and four desserts. Seven themed flights of three placed in tasting order on "wine tree." No price gouging as Cayuse 2004 Cailloux Syrah (retail $60 upon release to club members) is here at $74.

Pressings: Annual series of 10 winemaker dinners begins Sept. 19 with Cadaretta of Walla Walla.

4651 Highway 109, Moclips, Wash., 98562, 800-684-8439, oceancrestresort.com.

Outstanding Northwest Wine Lists

Bonneville Hot Springs Resort, Bonneville, Wash.

Program: Book opens with "Columbia Gorge Collection" of multiple wines from 14 producers within an hour's drive. Oregon/ Washington dominate remaining 25 pages.

Policies: Reasonable pricing. Gorge winemakers listed by name.

Pressings: Tastings in lobby Friday/Saturday nights ($15) feature local wines/fruit/cheese.

1252 E. Cascade Dr., North Bonneville, WA, 98639, 509-427-9711, bonnevilleresort.com.

Brix 25, Gig Harbor, Wash.

Program: Details of wine akin to The Herbfarm. Research, dedication show with producers big and boutique in Washington/Oregon.

Policies: It's 100% Northwest. Fairly priced.

Pressings: Bubbles include Domaine Ste. Michelle's Luxe, three from Argyle. Categories start with least expensive. Vineyard sources listed. Tacoma critic hated writing rave review as it meant editors no longer would need to pay for his "research" there.

7707 Pioneer Way, Gig Harbor, WA, 98335, 253-858-6626, harborbrix.com.

Cafe Tashtego, Pacific Beach, Wash.

Program: Miles Batchelder, creator of Ocean Crest's program, moved down the beach to new Seabrook resort with NW concept on smaller scale. Coeur d'Alene represents Idaho.

Policies: Diners grab bottles off display wall. Anything available by the glass at quarter-bottle price.

Pressings: Peninsula wineries Olympic Cellars, Walter Dacon, Westport offered. Fancier of Walla Walla and Ken Wright.

5 W. Myrtle Lane, Seabrook, Pacific Beach, WA, 98571, 360-276-4884, tashtegocafe.com.

Cascade Dining Room at Timberline Lodge, Mount Hood

Program: In compiling a list that breaks down rivalries, David Villali steps deeply into Oregon and Washington. Of the all-Northwest glass pours - more than a third are north of Columbia River.

Policies: Weekly tastings by staff determine list. Trips to Willamette Valley show with more than 200 labels of Pinot Noir.

Pressings: Winner of "Best Oregon" title from 2003-2007. Assortment of Ken Wright Pinot Noir is dozen strong.

The Cascade Dining Room, Timberline Lodge, OR, 97028, 503-622-0700, timberlinelodge.com.

42nd Street Cafe, Seaview, Wash.

Program: Wines from either Washington or Oregon with food-friendly producers such as Amity, Chinook and McCrea. Blue Mountain brut represents B.C.

Policies: Concise assortment at bargain prices.

Pressings: Open breakfast, lunch, dinner.

4201 Pacific Way, Seaview, WA, 98644, 360-642-2323, 42ndstreetcafe.com.

94 Stewart Restaurant, Seattle

Profile: Large investment in Washington and Oregon, a dash of Rhone-style wines by Coeur d'Alene.

Policies: No corkage on Sunday nights.

Pressings: Features quality from wineries off the beaten path such as Bunnell, Capstone, Phelps Creek, Two Mountain, Willis Hall.

94 Stewart St., Seattle, 98101, 206-441-5505, 94stewart.com

Steelhead Diner, Seattle

Program: Pike Place Market spot seeks to represent each grape variety in the Northwest, and it's a thoughtful construction with few large production wineries in the mix. The fascinating collection includes Albarino (Abacela), Arneis (Ponzi), Baco Noir (Girardet), Counoise (McCrea), Gruner Veltliner (Daedalus), Madeleine Angevine (Whidbey Island), Melon (De Ponte), Pinot Auxerrois (Gray Monk) and Siegerrebe (San Juan). Idaho checks in with Ste. Chapelle Riesling ice wine.

Policies: Jessica Skye Bolt's motto, "Nothing south of Oregon, Nothing east of Idaho." $20 corkage.

Pressings: More than a dozen half-bottles, including Mountain Dome bubbles. Nightly wine/food pairings for each course.

95 Pine St., Suite 17, Seattle, 98101, 206-625-0129.

Sun Mountain Lodge, Winthrop, Wash.

Program: Lots of reds and whites from Washington. Enough Oregon Pinot Noir, including Beaux Freres, to satisfy. Also Mission Hill (B.C.) and Ste. Chapelle (Idaho).

Policies: Logo of Mount Stuart points out each of many North Cascade wines.

Pressings: House wines made by Maryhill. Snow season means winemaker dinners.

604 Patterson Lake Rd., Winthrop, WA, 98862, 800-572-0493, sunmountainlodge.com

Waterfront Seafood Grill Seattle

Program: No bargains, but a star-studded lineup of Columbia and Willamette valleys with young boutiques (Efeste, Gorman, Va Piano) for spice.

Policies: Rarely seen glass pours include Woodward Canyon's 2005 Artist Series Cab ($30). Winemaker dinners run almost monthly.

Pressings: One page devoted to wineries in the Seattle area. Available are hard-to-find Cabs by Barons V and Boudreaux's reserve, as well as a handful of half-bottles from famed producers.

2801 Alaskan Way, Pier 70, Seattle, 98121, 206-956-9171, www.waterfrontpier70.com

Best Washington Wine List

Campbell's Resort, Chelan

Program: Strong support of neighbors such as Benson, Nefarious and Tildio gives George Van Over fifth straight title. 

Policies: Bargains. And there are many. Andrew Will 2005 Sorella is $70, which is a wine shop price.

Pressings: A dozen Walla Walla reds in half-bottles includes Helix 2003 Pomatia for $16.

104 W. Woodin, Chelan, 98816, 800-553-8225, campbellsresort.com.

Outstanding Washington Wine Lists

Bella Italia, Port Angeles

Profile: Plenty of quality Washington reds/Oregon Pinot Noir.

Policies: In-state Sangiovese leads with Leonetti vertical, includes Barnard Griffin rose.

Pressings: Solid assortment of food-friendly Cab Franc.

Bella Italia, 118 E. First St., Port Angeles, 98362, 360-457-5442, bellaitaliapa.com.

El Gaucho, Seattle

Program: Columbia Valley Cabs and high-end blends give patrons plenty to chew on.

Policies: Of the three El Gaucho properties, regional wines get the biggest play here, particularly Walla Walla and Red Mountain.

Pressings: Meet the Winemaker series runs monthly.

2505 First Ave., Seattle, 98121, 206-728-1337, elgaucho.com.

El Gaucho, Tacoma

Program: Big reds from Walla Walla and Woodinville are served with thick steaks. Oregon commands in Pinot Noirs.

Policies: Pacific Ocean influences virtually every wine here.

Pressings: Puget Sound area - Andrew Will, Andrake, Donedei, OS - and several Woodinville cult wineries are represented.

2119 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 98402, 253-272-1510, elgaucho.com.

Icon Grill, Seattle

Program: Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and Washington wines dominate the two-page list, but there's space for boutiques Sparkman and Townshend.

Policies: Few wines sell for more than $60.

Pressings: Top of front page features Washington Wine Commission logo.

1933 Fifth Ave., Seattle, 98101, 206-441-6330, icongrill.net.

Idle Hour Cafe and Steakhouse, Quincy

Program: Nearly overtook Campbell's, still a winner for seven straight years as Gene "Rosy" Rosenberger offers only Washington wines. Glass pours rotate weekly. No wine sold for more than $49, includes Col Solare, Fidelitas, L'Ecole and Reininger. Local wineries such as Benson, Chateau Faire Le Pont, Foxy Roxy, Jones, Martin-Scott and St. Laurent.

Policies: Corkage $15 for each out-of-stock bottle. Must be special vintage and for special occasion. Wine served in Riedel.

Pressings: Don't empty the bottle? It's recorked and sent home with you.

18 B. Street SE, Quincy, 98848, 509-787-3714, idlehourcafe.com.

Max at Mirabeau Restaurant and Lounge, Spokane Valley

Program: Spokane and east of Cascades is target.

Policies: Latah Creek, Mountain Dome among locals. Northwest bargains include Saviah's The Jack and Abacela's Vintners Blend.

Pressings: First Wednesday reception highlights local artist and wine tasting.

1100 N. Sullivan Road, Spokane Valley, 99037, 509-922-6252, maxatmirabeau.com.

Picazo 717, Prosser

Program: Chef Frank Magana proudly casts his spotlight on Yakima Valley producers. Aside from the reserve list, prices hover around $40 or less, with Chinook's Cab Franc ($36) a prime example.

Policies: Best line of the competition: Corkage is $15, but it goes up to "$25 for California wines."

Pressings: Wednesday nights become a gathering point for area winemakers. Magana's winemaker dinners are amazing values.

717 Sixth St., Prosser, 509-786-1116, 99350, picazo717.com.

Portfolio, Seattle

Program: Working and training restaurant for Art Institute of Seattle's culinary school.

Policies: Corkage is $10. Aside from aperitifs, this succinct list is 100% Washington. Half of placings go to wines by vintners who staged winemaker dinners here.

Pressings: Dieter Schafer's weekly public tasting seminars on fifth floor focus on state wines.

2600 Alaskan Way, Seattle, 98121, 206-239-2363, artinstitutes.edu.

Primo Grill, Tacoma

Program: Walla Walla reds and Willamette Valley Pinot Noir reign.

Policies: Phyllis McGavick, a partner in restaurant, funds college scholarship via sales of her McGavick wines at Primo/Crown Bar.

Pressings: Chef McManus is cousin of Andrew Will's Chris Carmada.

601 S. Pine St., Tacoma, 98405, 253-383-7000, primogrilltacoma.com.

Purple Cafe and Wine Bar, Kirkland

Program: Flights by samples pit Northwest vs. the world or NW vs. NW. Big on Oregon Pinot Noir and reds in Washington. Merlots focus on Walla Walla.

Policies: If they don't have it, there's no corkage on first bottle. Taste any wine-by-the-glass offering. Half-glasses available.

Pressings: B.C. ice wine shows up with Mission Hill. Informative glossary of wine terms in the back.

323 Park Place, Kirkland, 98033, 425-828-3772, thepurplecafe.com

Purple Cafe and Wine Bar, Seattle

Program: Similar NW representation to Kirkland with subtle differences and a bit more depth. Reserve list - called Double Top Secret - is heavy on Andrew Will, Domaine Serene, DeLille and Leonetti.

Policies: Same as Kirkland.

Pressings: Page on Argyle's Nuthouse Pinot Noir talks about vintner Rollin Soles, "maybe some find Rollin a little nuts, but the best kind of nuts." Three-ring binder allows staff to merely remove page when wine is sold out, not reprint.

1225 Fourth Ave., Seattle, 98101, 206-829-2280, thepurplecafe.com

Purple Cafe and Wine Bar, Woodinville

Program: Similar to other two properties with representation by nearby wineries as Baer, Betz, Januik, Mark Ryan, Note Bene. 

Policies: Same as Kirkland and Seattle.

Pressings: "Oddball reds" include Girardet's Baco and blends such as Bunnell's Vif, Isenhower's Last Straw and Gorman's Evil Twin.

14459 Woodindville-Redmond Road NE, Woodinville, 98072, 425-483-7129, thepurplecafe.com

Seafood grill & Twisted Cork Wine Bar, Bellevue

Program: Strong focus on Woodinville wine. Goes 6-for-7 on Long Shadows portfolio. Delivers dozen premier Oregon Pinot Noirs.

Policies: Michael Anderson features more than 20 Northwest wines not only by-the-glass, but also by the half-glass.

Pressings: Weekly tastings and live music in the bar four nights a week. It's in the Hyatt Regency, making dinner & bed an option.

900 Bellevue Way, Suite 100, Bellevue, 98004, 425-637-0808, seafoodgrill.com.

Sea Grill, Tacoma

Program: Brief list concentrates on Walla Walla and Woodinville.

Policies: A dozen wines by the glass to be enjoyed on the only patio downtown, which can be reserved.

Pressings: Monthly winemaker dinners include Gifford Hirlinger, Nicholas Cole and Saviah.

1498 Pacific Ave., Suite 300, Tacoma, 98402, 253-272-5656, the-seagrill.com.

Troiani Ristorante Italiano, Seattle

Program: It's definitely Italian, but there's a decent showing of Washington reds, including some whites by the glass.

Policies: They check in with Col Solare, Maryhill Zin, Long Shadows' Saggi (a Super Tuscan) and Wilridge's Nebbiolo.

Pressings: Pairing/tasting lineup this fall with young Washington wineries reads Tiger Mountain, Cedergreen, Airfield, Saint Laurent, Wilridge, Fall Line and Covington.

1001 Third Ave., Seattle, 98104, 206-624-4060, troianiseattle.com.

26brix, Walla Walla

Program: Veritable A (áMaurice) to Z (Zerba) of Walla Walla Valley. Of the 24 glass pours, 20 are local.

Policies: Corkage $30 if on the list; non-list is $15. Half the list is Walla Walla (for tourists). Half is world (per local winemakers request).

Pressings: Unique varieties showcase work of Morrison Lane and Yellow Hawk.

207 W. Main St., Walla Walla, 99362, 509-526-4075, twentysixbrix.com.

Zephyr Grill & Bar, Kent

Program: List mimics that of aforementioned sister property Icon Grill. A brief but affordable offering of Oregon Pinot Noir.

Policies: Half bottles of Ste. Michelle provide options.

Pressings: Take the train to dinner.

240 W. Kent Station, Kent, 253-854-5050, zephyrgrill.com.

Best Oregon Wine List

Joel Palmer House, Dayton

Program: The Czarneckis give Oregon a Burgundian feel by combining truffles and Pinot Noir in a 150-year-old home.

Policies: If it's not Oregon, it's not listed. Zerba of Walla Walla Valley gets on - it's in Milton-Freewater.

Pressings: No shame asking for the house Pinot Noir (Sineann), Pinot Gris (Willamette Valley Vineyards) or Riesling (Amity).

600 Ferry St., Dayton, 97114, 503-864-2995, joelpalmerhouse.com

Outstanding Oregon Wine Lists

Bridgeview Bistro, Astoria

Program: The Kischners left Long Beach peninsula after 28 years, bringing along scaled-down version of The Shoalwater's regional wine approach.

Policies: Flights of three paired with tapas promote food & wine concept.

Pressings: Tony Kischner began winemaker dinner trend in Northwest during the 1980s.

20 Basin St., Astoria, 97103, 503-325-6777, bridgewaterbistro.com.

Bistro Maison, McMinnville

Program: Owners are French, but their Pinot Noirs are local.

Policies: Most bottles in $50-$60 range. Walls of this quaint and friendly spot serve as shrine to Pinot Noirs in Willamette Valley.

Pressings: Winemakers often gather here.

729 NE Third St., McMinnville, 97128, 503-474-1888, bistromaison.com.

El Gaucho, Portland

Program: One of the Rose City's great steakhouses serves up Pinot Noir and big reds from Walla Walla.

Policies: Pinot and primos are welcomed in the cigar lounge.

Pressings: Half-bottles include Domaine Serene's 2004 Jerusalem Hill and RoxyAnn 2005 Claret.

319 SW Broadway, Portland, 97205, 503-227-8794, elgaucho.com.

Geiser Grand Hotel, Baker City

Program: Targets Burgundy-style wines from Oregon. Appreciates price/quality of Precept. Devotee of Jason Bull, now at David Hill.

Policies: Lack of distribution prompts Barbara Sidway to haul Willamette Valley wines from her second home in Ribbon Ridge.

Pressings: Wine appreciation weekend each spring features WPNW's Eric Degerman.

1996 Main St., Baker City, 97814, 888-434-7374, geisergrand.com.

Hamley Steakhouse, Pendleton

Program: The McLaughlin brothers set their sights on big reds from Walla Walla cult producers, some of Washington's promising boutique wineries and Oregon's premier Pinot Noir houses.

Policies: Tours of expansive wine cellar available on request.

Pressings: House wines have been made by Jean François-Pellet of Pepper Bridge/Amavi.

8 SE Court Ave., Pendleton, 97801, 541-278-1100, thehamleysteakhouse.com.

H50 Bistro & Bar, Portland

Program: New $7 millon hotel/bistro targets established in-state red and white Burgundy-style producers. Common threads are Penner-Ash and Ken Wright.

Policies: Oregon-only approach to Pinot Noir.

Pressings: Washington among Cabs in 800-bottle dining room display.

Hotel 50, 50 SW Morrison, Portland, 97204, 503-484-1415, H50bistro.com.

Lucier, Portland

Program: Opened this spring with 18,000-bottle inventory and 2,000 labels. Building regional focus. Few know our region better than sommelier Jim Biddle.

Policies: Homegrown Pinot Noir stands tall in $4 million enterprise.

Pressings: Chris & Tyanne Dussin own young Ribbon Ridge vineyard and are ex-partners in Penner-Ash. Biddle won our "Best Oregon" award in 2001 for Atwaters.

1910 SW River Dr., Portland, 97201, 503-222-7300, lucier-portland.com.

Multnomah Athletic Club, Portland

Program: Ken Wright makes sizable impression, especially with Pinot Noir and Tyrus Evan line. Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc from Oregon, along with Ste. Michelle whites.

Policies: Wines by the glass reasonably priced for members.

Pressings: History lives in the Ponzi 1999 Reserve Pinot Noir.

1849 SW Salmon St., Portland, 97205, 503-223-6251, themac.com.

Riverside Grill, Hood River

Program: Columbia Gorge wineries on both sides take stage in this Best Western hotel.

Policies: Inviting prices. Glass of organic Cooper Mountain Pinot Gris ($7).

Pressings: Cross-section of Peter Rosback's work.

Riverside Inn, Best Western, 1108 E Marina Way, Hood River, 97031, 541-386-2200, bestwesternoregon.com.

The Heathman Restaurant and Bar, Portland

Program: Reasonable display of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir favors J.K. Carrier, Ken Wright and Westrey.

Policies: Responsible approach with more than dozen of Pinot Noir in half-bottles.

Pressings: Solid showing of Washington reds.

1001 SW Broadway, Portland, 97201, 800-551-0011, portland.heathmanhotel.com.

Wildwood Restaurant & Bar, Portland

Program: A concentration on Pinot Noirs from Oregon. Strong blast of renowned Washington Cabs.

Policies: One listing for each of the 30 Pinot Noir producers represented, most from 2006 vintage.

Pressings: Jeff Moore's history includes ordering for Boise's famous neon wine tower at Red Feather.

1221 NW 21st Ave., Portland, 97209, (503) 248-9663, wildwoodrestaurant.com.

Steamboat Inn, Steamboat

Program: Nearby wines from likes of Abacela, Brandborg, Henry, Reustle joined by Willamette Valley houses such as Bethel Heights, Dobbes, Elk Cove, Ponzi, Rex Hill, Yamhill Valley.

Policies: Nightly dinner program akin to that at Herbfarm with Oregon wines as centerpiece to each course.

Pressings: Spring guest chef/winemaker dinners, a who's who of Oregon, mark reopening of resort.

42705 N. Umpqua Highway, Steamboat, 97447, 800-840-8825, thesteamboatinn.com.

The Dundee Bistro, Dundee

Profile: Ponzi owns/operates, but you can't tell because of remarkable support for other Willamette Valley producers.

Policies: Open daily. Approachable pricing. Array of half-bottles.

Pressings: Gathering place for winemakers. Ponzi Wine Bar - and shop - just steps away.

100-A SW Seventh St., Dundee, 97115, 503-554-1650, dundeebistro.com.

Best British Columbia Wine List

Sooke Harbour House, Sooke

Profile: Sinclair Philip's globetrotting accounts for 15,000 bottles and 2,700 labels. Provincial wines, more than 50 wineries are featured, take center stage each night for food/wine pairings featuring indigenous ingredients.

Policies: Cellars tours offered each day by appointment. Allot three hours for dinner.

Pressings: History includes 1979 Cabs from Leonetti ($400) and Quilceda Creek ($450), The Eyrie 1975 South Block Pinot Noir ($180) and Canada's first ice wine - Hainle 1978 Okanagan Valley Riesling ($500) for half-bottle.

1528 Whiffen Spit, Sooke, V0S 1N0, 250-642-3421, sookeharbourhouse.com.

Outstanding B.C. Wine Lists

O'Doul's Restaurant & Bar, Vancouver

Profile: Calvin DesChene spotlights Blue Mountain, Burrowing Owl and Naramata producers Kettle Valley, LaFrenz, Joie.

Policies: Helpful listing by style and structure. Listel Hotel keeps reasonable pricing. Mission Hill in various formats.

Pressings: Washington offerings include Barnard Griffin and Reininger.

The Listel Hotel and O'Doul's Restaurant & Bar, 1300 Robson Street, Vancouver, V6E 1C5, 604-661-1406, odoulsrestaurant.com

Theo's Restaurant, Penticton

Profile: Page after page devoted to Okanagan Valley wineries big and small. Greek cuisine and fun atmosphere matches well.

Policies: Don't try to bring in your own bottle.

Pressings: First list (1976) had one B.C. wine. Now, there are bubbles from four provincial producers.

687 Main St., Penticton, V2A 5C9, 250-492-4019, eatsquid.com.

The Rotten Grape, Kelowna

Profile: Light-hearted approach but serious on provincial wines, particularly Naramata Bench, with flights available.

Policies: Blazing trail with self-serve policy using automated Enomatic preservation system.

Pressings: Yankee reds appear from Walla Walla and Dundee Hills.

231 Bernard Ave., Kelowna, V1Y 6N2, 250-717-8466, rottengrape.com.

Best Idaho Wine List

Brick 29 Bistro, Nampa

Profile: Idaho winemakers buzz about this year-old operation. Half of Idaho's wineries appear on this list, including Bitner, Cinder, Fraser, Indian Creek, Parma Ridge, Pend d'Oreille and Wood River - formerly known as The Winery at Eagle Knoll.

Policies: Keep dollars local. Most expensive Idaho wine costs $50.

Pressings: In historic brick Masonic temple.

320 11th Ave. S., Nampa, 83651, 208-468-0029, brick29.com.

Outstanding Idaho Wine Lists

Ketchum Grill, Ketchum, Idaho

Profile: Californians rule Sun Valley, yet Eugene native Scott Mason carries Idaho torch with Cinder, Phantom Hill, Sawtooth, Ste. Chapelle and Frenchman's Gulch - the latter just a short walk away.

Polices: Northwest knowledge with Burgundy styles from Willamette Valley Burgundies and Walla Walla reds. 

Pressings: Helped found Sun Valley Food & Wine Festival.

520 East Ave., Ketchum, 83340, 208-726-4660, ketchumgrill.com.

Nectar, Moscow, Idaho

Profile: Inland Empire products stick close to home with Clearwater Canyon, Coeur'd Alene and Merry. Big on Dunham, L'Ecole, Maryhill, Ryan Patrick. Bubbles from Argyle and Mountain Dome.

Policies: Flights include Oregon Pinot Noir, change weekly. Leonetti by-the-glass ($25) did well.

Pressings: The Woodlands left Portland food scene in 2007 to start own restaurant in this college town.

105 W. Sixth, Moscow, 83843, 208-882-5914, moscownectar.com.

Sandbar River House, Marsing

Profile: Only six wineries represented, each nearby - Bitner, Hells Canyon, Indian Creek, Koenig, Ste. Chapelle, Sawtooth.

Policies: No pretense. Perhaps the least expensive list in Northwest. They sell no wine for more than $30.

Pressings: Deck nearly hangs over Snake River.

18 First Ave. W. Marsing, 83639, 208-896-4124, sandbarriverhouse.com.

Best Montana wine list

McGarry's Roadhouse, Whitefish, Mont.

Profile: The Nogals' list ranked among Washington's best while running Whidbey Island's The Inn at Langley. Even in Montana it's still stronger than many in Washington.

Policies: Reasonable pricing, with Chinook Cabernet Franc rose ($24) as example. Heavy on McCrea and supportive of Walla Walla.

Pressings: This fall marks their fifth anniversary in Big Sky country.

510 Wisconsin Ave., Whitefish, Mont., 59937, 406-862-6223, mcgarrysroadhouse.com.

The Herbies

It was only a matter of time.

We won eight straight. And, unless you're Michael Phelps at the Olympics, there's no drama in having the same guy climb the podium time and again.

So we're taking our eight gold medals and are retiring from Wine Press Northwest's "Best Northwest Wine List" contest. Call me "Coach," if you wish. The Herbfarm's 3,000 regional wine selections (and another 1,500 from "those other places") will stand as our own Olympic record of sorts.

I congratulate this year's winner of the first-ever "Herbie," the new Best Northwest Wine List. We're honored to have this award named after The Herbfarm. As a native Northwesterner, it's still amazing to see this regional explosion of wine.

When I was a kid, fortified table-grape wines were Washington's forte. Oregon wasn't even a player.

And then it all changed. David Lett set up shop in Oregon. Leonetti Cellar started showing up on lists of the Top 100 wines of the year. New wineries were opening one on top of the other. Now, there are more than 1,000 wineries that one could reach in a hard day's drive from our restaurant here in Woodinville.

You are living in the Golden Age of Northwest Wine. Support the restaurants that support our regional producers. Go forth and enjoy!

And don't forget: if you want something really rare, it's probably on our list!

- Ron Zimmerman, proprietor, The Herbfarm