Sea, Taste, Smell

Engaging all the senses at Astoria’s UnWined

By Kerry McDaniel Boenisch

Evaluating 146 wines in seven hours from 40 wineries is an annual equation I enjoy decoding every year as a wine judge in the preliminary event of the Astoria Warrenton Crab, Seafood & Wine Festival, April 26–28.

This year’s UnWined, hosted annually by the Astoria-Warrenton Chamber of Commerce in the Liberty Theater the first weekend of March, was no exception. The behind-the-scenes event presents a unique opportunity for guests to sample and savor the wines post-judging; plus participate in a People’s Choice competition and browse the wine awards.

In an annual ritual — accompanied by my husband — I also enjoy witnessing the Astoria nightlife in the vibrant waterfront city the evening before the contest. We strolled along the Columbia River boardwalk at sunset, devoured oyster shooters from the NW Wild Dockside Fish Market and sampled beer at the Workers Tavern underneath the shadow of the luminous Astoria Bridge, which, at the time of completion in 1966, was the longest continuous truss bridge in the world. We ended the pre-event warm-up with a cozy dinner at Albatross & Co.

The next morning, I sat with the other judges — Gabriel Jagle, Scenic Valley Farms winemaker; Chemeketa Wine Studies instructor Patrick McElligott; wine writer Viki Eierdam and Winebow Imports owner Toni Ketrenos — and commenced the tasting panel. The event volunteers balanced trays of numerous flights. We started with rounds of Pinot Gris and ended with late-harvest Riesling. See sidebar for top winners.

For $40, UnWined guests received a logo glass and tastes of 10 wines — to be featured at April’s main event — plus appetizers by an Astoria classic, Bridgewater Bistro, located in the historic cannery building on the Columbia River. While chatting with the competition judges, participants listened to live tunes by Northwest Classical guitarist Ryan Walsh and Celtic ballads from violinist Rory Holbrook.

Attendees showed excitement to be among the first to learn the Best of Show winners in the 2019 competition and thrilled to select the “People’s Choice Award” (see sidebar) and hopeful to win free admission tickets to the upcoming Astoria Warrenton Crab, Seafood & Wine Festival by casting their vote.

Astoria Warrenton Crab, Seafood & Wine Festival Wine Competition

Best of Show Red (tie)

King’s Raven Winery 2014 Maréchal Foch

Territorial Vineyards 2016 “Stone’s Throw” Pinot Noir

Best of Show White

Trella Vineyards 2016 Gewürztraminer

People’s Choice Award

August Cellars 2017 Gamay Noir

Gold Medals

August Cellars 2017 Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley

Chris James Cellars 2018 Sauvignon Blanc, Yamhill-Carlton

Chris James Cellars 2017 Cuvée Blanc (Müller-Thurgau/Gewürztraminer), Willamette Valley

Coría Estates 2017 Chardonnay, Willamette Valley

Coría Estates 2018 Riesling, Willamette Valley

Cubanísimo 2016 Estate Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley

Honeywood Winery NV “Tres  Rojos” (Pinot Noir, Maréchal Foch, Merlot), Willamette Valley

Honeywood Winery NV Raspberry, Oregon

Melrose Vineyards 2017 Pinot Gris, Umpqua Valley

Noble Estate Winery 2018 Riesling, Willamette Valley

Noble Estate Winery 2018 Muscat Semi-Sparkling, Willamette Valley

Territorial Vineyards 2014 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley

For silver and bronze medals, visit

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