Washington's original wine country is proving to be on quite the comeback.

The wines of North Central Wash­ington are growing in quality and quantity, as this year's North Central Washington Wine Awards show.

Washington's first two win­eries opened in this region: in 1874 in East Wenatchee and 1875 in Wenatchee. The area was mostly dormant af­ter Prohibition, but in the past 15 years, we have seen much activity, with more than 60 wineries opening in such communities as Quincy, Wenatchee, East Wenatchee, Leavenworth, Lake Chelan, Cashmere and Peshastin.

In August, the North Cen­tral Washington Wine Awards, put on by Foothills Magazine (owned by the Wenatchee World) and Great Northwest Wine, drew about 225 entries. Here is a sampling of gold medal winners from this year's competition.

Jones of Washington 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Val­ley, $15:
Winemaker Victor Palencia has crafted a stun­ning white with aromas of fig, grapefruit, white peach and lime, followed by flavors of bright, balanced orchard and tropical fruit. It's all backed by refreshing acidity. (12% ale.)

Beaumont Cellars 2013 Reserve Cabernet Sauvi­gnon, Red Mountain, $36:
Using grapes from vaunted. Red Mountain, Pete Beau­mont has crafted a luscious Cab with aromas and flavors of black cherry, spice, black­berry and dark chocolate, all leading to a long, luscious fin­ish. (14.2% ale.)

Ginkgo Forest Win­ery 2011 Estate Cabernet Franc, Wahluke Slope, $30:
This Cab Franc is one of Mike Thiede's finest efforts to date. It shows off aromas and fla­vors of cranberry, pomegran­ate, black currant and dried herbs, all backed with a bright, youthful and expressive struc­ture. (14.5% ale.)

Ryan Patrick Vineyards 2013 Ryan's Riesling, Co­lumbia Valley, $12:
This Leavenworth winery has long crafted delicious and afford­able wines, and this Riesling is one of the best in the North­west vintage after vintage. It's an easy-drinking white with aromas and flavors of Bartlett pear drizzled with honey, all balanced with bright acidity. (12% ale.)

Cave B Estate Winery 2012 Cave B Vineyards Sangiovese, Columbia Val­ley, $33:
Talented winemaker Freddy Arredondo produces superb wines from this winery atop cliffs towering above the Columbia River near George. This beautiful Sangiovese shows off aromas and flavors of strawberry, pomegranate, blueberry and a whisper of smokiness, all wrapped with­in firm tannins. (13.7% ale.)

By Eric Degerman & Andy Perdue
September 10, 2015
The Quincy Valley Post-Register