Superior Cellar Awards
In September 2010, Oregon Wine Press launched its Superior Cellar Awards to recognize restaurants whose wine programs place particular emphasis on Oregon wines.
The introduction of these awards honoring the best Oregon wine lists was timed to coincide with our annual restaurant issue in September, and we were delighted by the response.
For the program’s first year — 2011 — we focused exclusively on Oregon restaurants. After all, it is local dining establishments that embrace our state’s own wine industry with the greatest support and enthusiasm.
After an extensive evaluation of restaurant wine lists around the state, Oregon Wine Press selected 40 restaurants whose commitment to Oregon wines stood out.
Though breadth, depth and diversity were obvious considerations, well-selected smaller lists qualified as well.
For 2012, we are pleased to announce that we will be partnering with the Oregon Wine Board and, by extension, the Oregon wine industry. As a result, we are moving forward with the national expansion of the Superior Cellar Awards.
This will be an ongoing process, which over time we fully anticipate will see more and more restaurants within the state, throughout the region and across the nation prove worthy of being honored with an Oregon Wine Superior Cellar Award.
It stands to reason that Oregon restaurants will always offer a larger, diversified portfolio of local wines and place more emphasis on them than restaurants in other states.
However, the growing reputation of our industry, enhanced in particular by the prestige of world-class Pinot Noir, appears destined to extend its reach and increase its influence throughout the country.
Obviously, it remains vitally important to the strength and stability of our statewide wine industry for Oregon restaurants to put as much support behind it as possible.
That’s what they do in European countries, so much so that from one region to another, many restaurants are likely to offer primarily or even exclusively the wines of that region.
In that regard, for an Oregon restaurant to retain its position on the roll of Superior Cellar honorees from year to year, its wine list must meet a higher standard than elsewhere. Being Oregon-oriented both in selection and recommendation is mandatory.
Owing to the wide range of wines produced around the state, a restaurant’s wine list could be exclusively Oregon and still be able to offer every basic type — aperitif, sparkling, red, white, rosé and dessert.
Furthermore, by featuring local wines as well as farm fresh produce and locally raised meat and poultry, restaurants are truly presenting the best of Oregon’s bounty to tourists and other visitors.
As for our diversity of table wines, cumulatively around Oregon almost every major European wine region is represented through the propagation and production of their most popular varietals.
This includes France’s Burgundy, Bordeaux, Rhone, Loire, Champagne, Alsace and Provence, Italy’s Piedmont, Tuscany, Lombardy and Alto Adige, Germany’s Rhine and Mosel, as well as key varieties from Spain and Austria.
In our new relationship with the Oregon Wine Board, we are redoubling our efforts to seek out deserving restaurants in other states. However, it is inevitable that worthy candidates will be overlooked.
To that end, we welcome reader input. If you know of a restaurant in any state that would appear to meet Oregon Wine Superior Cellar award criteria, please let us know by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org with the restaurant name and location.
This is an ongoing program and consideration of potential awardees will be conducted on a regular basis. To be named an award winner means the restaurant has risen above hundreds of contemporaries to emerge a champion of Oregon wines.
For 2012, only 60 elite eateries around Oregon have been selected as Superior Cellar Award winners. Of them, 20 new names now share the list with 40 current ones, whose level of excellence has earned them a continued place among the honorees.
They are joined by 10 elite eateries beyond our borders, whose commitment to Oregon is commended by the industry and is hereby recognized. We look forward to seeing many more earn the right to enter their ranks in the future.