Ocean Crest Resort shares a tradition with The Herbfarm as restaurants spotlighting wines made in the great Pacific Northwest better than the rest.
Unfortunately, they now have another thing in common -- a devasting fire.
On June 20, the Moclips, Wash., destination lost its award-winning restaurant and its extensive collection of Native American artifacts. The cause remains unclear, but co-owner Rob Curtright said indications are that it was sparked by an electrical problem within the ceiling in the middle of the restaurant.
Fortunately, they only lost about 20 percent of their wine inventory because the bulk of the library was housed off-premise.
"We want to continue the wine program," said Curtright, whose parents founded the resort in 1953. "It was quite successful and brought us a lot of business."
One benefit of the blaze is a more clear view of the Pacific.
"We lost a few trees in the fire, so our view will be improved," Curtright said. "But we will have a brand new building. The original building was part of our house that we'd added to several times over the years, so we're looking at this an opportunity, and we're excited about it. It did take us a couple of months to get over the trauma. It was quite emotional for us because of the Northwest American art that can't be replaced."
Meanwhile, the family placed executive chef Andy Bickar on salary because it didn't want to lose him.
"All the demolition is done, the site is clear and we are working with the architect on the new building," Curtright said with optimism. "We hope to start construction in October and be open in April or May. That's the plan. Everyone has been very supportive."
Their long-standing series of Northwest winemaker dinners probably won't resume until the fall of 2012.
So this year, we've given our "The Herbie" to Sun Mountain Lodge, the four-season Methow Valley resort in Winthrop, Wash.
Wine director Don Elsing boasts a 5,000-bottle inventory that's rich with wines from Washington and Oregon as well as a smattering from British Columbia and Idaho. Elsing and executive chef J. Russell Bradshaw continue to stage regular Northwest winemaker dinners, and they've received recognition from Wine Press Northwest for Best Washington or Outstanding Northwest wine list for more than a decade.
In 2008, we named the competition "The Herbies" -- a tribute to The Herbfarm and its co-owner Ron Zimmerman, a combination in Woodinville, Wash., that won our top award for eight straight years. Their run began four years after a soul-crushing blaze of the original Herbfarm.
And so this marks the first time in 12 years that a restaurant other than The Herbfarm or Ocean Crest Resort is given the top award.
Each year, we use the Wine Press Northwest/Herbfarm wine list competition to determine candidates for future restaurant profiles. Restaurants among our Match Maker alumni are denoted with an "E."
Best Northwest Wine List
Sun Mountain Lodge, Winthrop, Wash.
Program: Don Elsing's 34-page book is led by Washington, while Oregon is well-represented for Pinot Noir. British Columbia icon Mission Hill has some library wines, and there's an Idaho ice wine from Ste. Chapelle.
Policies: Mountain logo goes next to entries from the growing North Central Washington region.
Pressings: There are 98 Washington, 27 Oregon wineries represented, an increase from last year. Three sparkling wine houses in Washington appear here.
604 Patterson Lake Road, Winthrop, WA, 98862, 800-572-0493, sunmountainlodge.com.
Outstanding Northwest Wine Lists
Bonneville Hot Springs Resort, Bonneville, Wash.
Program: There's a blend of local wineries and more pricey Northwest producers.
Policies: Each Friday, there's a 1-hour pouring of Columbia Gorge wines joined by Oregon goat cheese, fruits, nuts and breads.
Pressings: Pacific Crest Dining Room has menu that appeals to spa patrons with healthy alternatives.
1252 E. Cascade Dr., North Bonneville, Wash, 98639, 509-427-9711, bonnevilleresort.com.
BlueAcre Seafood, Seattle
Program: Founders of Steelhead Diner in Pike Place, Kevin and Terresa Davis, buy only fish caught in U.S. waters via responsible methods. And the wine list is mostly Washington and Oregon.
Policies: Many of the wines by the glass are less than $10, rather amazing in downtown Seattle these days.
Pressings: Nice little finds include Brandborg Gewuerz, Browne Family Cab, Corvus Syrah* Petite Sirah, Kyra Chenin Blanc and Treveri bubbles (by the glass).
1700 Seventh Ave., Seattle, WA, 98101, 206-659-0737, blueacreseafood.com.
Bridgewater Bistro, Astoria
Program: Tony Kischner has been in the area nearly 30 years, most of them at the Shoalwater on Washington's Long Beach Peninsula. His focus now is on Oregon, but not just Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley. He features Southern Oregon and the Columbia Gorge. And there are nearly two dozen dessert wines from the Northwest.
Policies: It's easy to spot a red wine by the glass for less than $10.
Pressings: Most items on menu can be made gluten-free.
20 Basin St., Suite A, Astoria, OR, 97103, 503-325-6777, bridgewaterbistro.com.
Copperleaf Restaurant, SeaTac
Program: The list is brief, but it's dedicated to the Northwest. Oregon checks in with producers such as Adelsheim, Domaine Drouhin, Lange, Ponzi. Wineries employing sustainable practices show on list with green leaf.
Policies: Glass pour offerings show more thought than most.
Pressings: Refreshing to see Sky River -- a meadery near the Skykomoish River -- represented.
Cedarbrook Lodge, 18525 36th Ave. S., Seattle, WA, 98188, 206-901-9268, cedarbrooklodge.com.
42nd Street Cafe, Seaview
Program: Pound-for-pound, Blaine Walker's quick list ranks among the best as it's virtually 100 percent from Oregon and Washington.
Policies: The menu highlights seafood, so the list targets fruit-forward, high-acid wines such as Amity Dry Riesling and Barnard Griffin's rose of Sangiovese.
Pressings: There's Tempranillo from wineries near the Canadian border (Mount Baker) and the California border (Abacela).
4201 Pacific Way, Seaview, WA, 98644, 360-642-2323, 42ndstreetcafe.com.
Program: While there's certainly a world perspective, this new opening in Seattle by international rockstar chef Michael Mina is ramping up its Northwest component. Huge fans of Andrew Will, Cadence, Domaine Drouhin, Gramercy and Scott Paul.
Policies: Flashing lights on wall-mounted menu boards indicate instant changes to the wine list, so diners can see when the last bottle of Chinook Cab Franc is gone.
Pressings: Mina, with a growing empire of 19 restaurants across the country, was born in Egpyt but raised in Ellensburg, Wash.
1433 Fourth Ave., Seattle, WA, 98101, 206-456-7474, rn47.com.
Six Seven, Seattle
Program: Focus on seafood explains presence of wide-ranging Northwest whites, especially as glass pours, and 20+ Oregon Pinot Noirs.
Policies: Rising younger wineries Buty, Saviah, alongside fabled producers such as Adelsheim, Leonetti, Quilceda Creek, Ken Wright.
Pressings: Dining room for historic Edgewater Hotel offers stunning view of Elliott Bay and Olympic Mountains.
2411 Alaskan Way, Pier 67, Seattle, WA, 98121, 206-269-4575, edgewaterhotel.com.
Best Washington Wine List
Campbell's Bistro, Chelan
Program: No establishment shows more pride in its award than Campbell's Resort. At the top of the wine list it reads "Wine Press Northwest Magazine's Best Washington Wine List" since 2004. And eight is not enough.
Policies: Most restaurants bury their half-bottle selections. Not this one. And his prices remain lower than most, including near retail for those from Long Shadow in Walla Walla.
Pressings: Smiley faces symbolize personal favorites, and Van Over loves Syrah. He used 4 of his 16 on this variety.
104 W. Woodin, Chelan, WA, 98816, 800-553-8225, dineatcampbells.com.
Outstanding Washington Wine Lists
Barking Frog, Woodinville
Program: The devotion to Washington state is obvious, starting with the impressive array of beautifully, large-format bottles near the front of the restaurant.
Policies: It must be difficult to pick from the 70+ wineries with nearby tasting rooms, but only about half make this list.
Pressings: Affable chef Bobby Moore hit the 10-year milestone at the Barking Frog this year.
Barking Frog, 14580 NE 145th St., Woodinville, WA, 98072, 425-424-2999, willowslodge.com/wine_dine/
Cafe Flora, Seattle
Program: A hand-picked list that features Seven Hills' outstanding work with two less Bordeaux-varieties -- Carmenere and Malbec.
Policies: Wines noted as vegan or sustainably farmed are highlighted, including Basel Cellars, Kyra and Oregon's Montinore Estate.
Pressings: This year marks the 20th anniversary of this vegan restaurant.
2901 E. Madison St., Seattle, WA, 98112, 206-325-9100, cafeflora.com
Churchill's Steak House, Spokane
Program: There are a few more whites offered than one might expect at a steakhouse.
Policies: Support remains for Spokane wineries Barrister, Mountain Dome, Robert Karl and Whitestone.
Pressings: Fans of Cayuse will find a short veritcal of En Cerise Vineyard Syrah.
165 S. Post, Spokane, WA, 99201, 509-474-9888, churchillssteakhouse.com.
Fat Olives, Tri-Cities
Program: Their slogan: "Local wines, local vineyards, the pride of Washington." Most wines made within an hour's drive of Tri-Cities.
Policies: Corkage $2.50 per person. No corkage on Wednesdays.
Pressings: Rob Griffin (Barnard Griffin), Charlie Hoppes (Fidelitas) recently staged winemaker dinners. Home of the 28-inch pizza.
255 Williams Blvd., Richland, WA, 99352, 509-946-6404, 300 N. Ely, Kennewick, WA, 99336, 509-735-5533, fatolivesrestaurant.com..
Masselow's Restaurant, Airway Heights
Program: Spokane wineries lead at Northern Quest Resort & Casino's dining room, an assortment that includes Latah Creek's delicious Huckleberry d'Latah, yet there's also Bookwater's SubPlot series and Boomtown Syrah.
Policies: Wednesdays during summer bring half-price on select bottles.
Pressings: This is billed as the Inland Empire's only AAA Four Diamond dining room.
Masselow's Restaurant, Northern Quest Resort & Casino, 100 N. Hayford Road, Airway Heights, WA, 99001, 509-242-7000, northernquest.com/dining/masselows.
Picazo 7Seventeen Wine Bar & Restaurant, Kennewick
Program: Trina Cortez built the list matriculated from Prosser to Kennewick's Southridge area this spring. There are 20 wines available by the glass, and each of the state's 11 appellation will be represented among those glass pours.
Policies: Corkage is $10, but it jumps to $25 if the wine was made in California.
Pressings: Wine country chef/owner Frank Magana continues to operate Mojave in Prosser for Desert Wind Winery.
3617 Plaza Way, Kennewick, WA 99357, 509-987-1607, picazo717.com.
Program: Tasting flights generally place one NW wine with 2-3 from elsewhere. The selection of Washington Sauv Blancs (Efeste, Substance, Woodward Canyon) make for an interesting choice.
Policies: If they don't carry that wine, corkage on first bottle is waived.
Pressings: Leave yourself the time to enjoy thumbing through the eclectic 68-page beverage list.
430 106th Ave. NE, Bellevue, WA, 98004, 425-502-6292, thepurplecafe.com.
Program: Katelyn Peil oversees this assortment, among them was this flight of NW Vine Project (Chardonnay), Four Graces (Pinot Gris), Amavi (Semillon) and Tempus (Riesling).
Policies: Try before you buy when it comes to the glass pours.
Pressings: Among the fresh new faces here are O'Shea Scarborough Main Event and Reynvaan Family's Unnamed Syrah.
323 Park Place Center, Kirkland, WA, 98033, 425-828-3772, thepurplecafe.com.
Program: Directing this list is Chris Horn, same as in Bellevue. The choices were trimmed by about 20 percent to 70 pages, but it's still the biggest, and his flight of four Washington reds -- two Cabs and two Merlot -- is quite a learning tool.
Policies: Many of these wines can go out the door for 40 percent off list price.
Pressings: A mere trio of Washington Rieslings seems too brief.
1225 Fourth Ave., Seattle, 98101, 206-829-2280, thepurplecafe.com
Program: Support for their neighborhood is evident as more than 40 wines from Woodinville appear.
Policies: Buy a case of your fave? Ask them about retail pricing.
Pressings: Gone is the glossary of terms in back.
14459 Woodinville-Redmond Road NE, Woodinville, WA, 98072, 425-483-7129, thepurplecafe.com.
The Melting Pot, Spokane
Program: Walla Walla wineries, particularly Cougar Crest, receive a lot of attention. Local placings include Arbor Crest, Barrister, Coeur d'Alene, Grande Ronde, Robert Karl. Tri-City boutique Anelare a pleasant surprise.
Policies: Wine Down Wednesdays means 50 percent discount on bottles when ordering a four-course fondue dinner.
Pressings: Among those to participate in corkage-free program with Spokane-area wineries.
Crescent Building, Second Floor, 707 W. Main Ave., Spokane, WA, 99201, 509-926-8000, spokanemp.com.
Tulalip Bay Restaurant, Tulalip
Program: Tommy Thompson offers 200+ wines from Washington as well as Oregon Pinot Noir at Tulalip Resort Casino's fine-dining spot.
Policies: Each multi-course dinner by Perry Mascitti can be ordered with wine pairings. List of winemaker dinners includes Spring Valley, Betz, Quilceda, DeLille, Lachini, Andrew Will, Barage, Grand Reve.
Pressings: Nice touch to carry many of Northwest Totem Cellars' acclaimed wines.
10200 Quil Ceda Blvd., Tulalip, WA, 98271, 360-716-1500, tulalipresort.com
Tuscany Rustic Italian Bistro, Prosser
Program: Focus is Prosser-area wineries, including Coyote Canyon Sangiovese and Desert Wind Barbera.
Policies: Wines on list priced at near retail.
Pressings: Chef/owner Jessie Ayala, born/raised in Prosser, went through South Seattle CC acclaimed culinary program.
602 Sixth St., Prosser, WA, 99350, 509-786-7600, eattuscany.com.
Valley Cafe, Ellensburg
Program: Gregory Beach made commitment to pair cuisine with Washington wines in 1981.
Policies: List is 90 percent Washington. Featured winery of the month includes public tasting during First Friday Art Walk.
Pressings: Wine shop in adjacent deli. String of awards from Washington Wine Commission goes back to 2003, and from Wine Press Northwest to 2000.
105 W. Third Ave., Ellensburg, WA, 98926, 509-925-3050, valleycafeellensburg.com.
Visconti's Restorante Italiano, Leavenworth
Program: More than half of the 500+ list is Washington, which includes 100 entries from the Columbia Cascade region.
Policies: Affordable pricing of local wines.
Pressings: Co-owner/chef Daniel Carr continues to oversee the wine program.
636 Front St., Leavenworth, WA, 98826, 509-548-1213. viscontis.com.
Visconti's Restorante Italiano, Wenatchee
Program: Candy Mecham's original restaurant sticks closer to Wenatchee-area wineries. Back is loaded with big Washington reds.
Policies: Nice snapshots of older vintages from some Walla Walla legends.
Pressings: Restaurant celebrated its 25th anniversary Jan. 1.
1737 N. Wenatchee Ave., Wenatchee, WA, 98801, 509-662-5013, viscontis.com.
Wild Ginger, Seattle
Program: Syrah and Cab-based reds from Washington easily found among 30,000-bottle collection that began in 1989 and includes magnum of Woodward Canyon 1994 Old Vines Cab ($205).
Policies: Not afraid to explore, for example, listing this issue's rather obscure Match Maker wine -- Memaloose Idiot's Grace Cabernet Franc, cellared in Lyle, Wash.
Pressings: Perlage system used on sparkling wines, Enomatic system on stills. Opened second restaurant in Bellevue.
1401 Third Ave. Seattle, WA, 98101, 206-623-4450, wildginger.net.
Best Oregon Wine List
The Joel Palmer House, Dayton
Program: The focus is pairing mushrooms and truffles with Oregon Pinot Noir, which fills two-thirds of the wine list.
Policies: Christopher Czarnecki took over in the kitchen for his father/owner, Jack, and now they produce truffle oil.
Pressings: Peter Rosback of Sineann calls this "Oregon's PREMIER fine dining destination."
Joel Palmer House, 600 Ferry St., Dayton, OR, 97114, 503-864-2995, joelpalmerhouse.com.
Outstanding Oregon Wine Lists
Cascade Dining Room at Timberline Lodge, Mount Hood
Program: Program manager David Villali once received our "Best Oregon" award five straight years. This will feel like heaven for supporters of Patty Green, Peter Rosback and Ken Wright.
Policies: Ask server to arrange for wine tasting, tour of cellar. Don't expect to find bargains because of transportation/storage difficulties.
Pressings: Reservations are required for dinner.
The Cascade Dining Room, Timberline Lodge, OR, 97028, 503-622-0700, timberlinelodge.com.
Celilo Restaurant and Bar, Hood River
Program: Columbia Gorge remains a centerpiece, listing more than a dozen wineries.
Policies: Corkage is $20/ $40 for magnum.
Pressings: Among reserves is a 2000 Cab from Syncline, one of first vintages the Mantones made in the Gorge.
Celilo Restaurant and Bar, 16 Oak St., Hood River, OR, 97031, 541-386-5710, celilorestaurant.com.
Columbia Gorge Hotel, Hood River
Program: GM Paul Robinson continues to restore this property, first built in 1904, and renewed its reputation for supporting Northwest wineries. Permanent site of the Northwest Wine Summit competition.
Policies: Corkage waived on Tuesdays if your bottle is from the Columbia Gorge AVA.
Pressings: In 1981, Rich Cushman planted his small block of Riesling almost directly across the freeway.
Columbia Gorge Hotel, 4000 Westcliff Dr., Hood River, OR, 97031, 800-345-1921, columbiagorgehotel.com
Dundee Bistro, Dundee
Program: Wines throughout Oregon featured in this wine country restaurant/wine shop owned by the Ponzi family.
Policies: Weekly wine seminars required for staff. Each wine is poured into Riedel.
Pressings: Christopher Flanagan, who succeeded Jason Stoller Smith as chef, grew up in nearby Carlton.
Dundee Bistro, 100-A SW Seventh St., Dundee, OR, 97115, 503-554-1650, dundeebistro.com.
Program: The Allison Inn & Spa pit Burgundy vs. Willamette over the course of a 37-page wine list, with nearly 200 Oregong Pinot Noir to choose from.
Policies: Thursdays are "Celebrity Wine Tender Evenings" when winemakers or winery owners pour an hour for guests.
Pressings: One features on list pays tribute to "Women Winemakers We Love."
2525 Allison Lane, Newberg, OR, 97132, 503-554-2525, theallison.com.
Five Spice Seafood & Wine Bar, Lake Oswego
Program: Lakeside spot pays tribute to Oregon Pinot Noir with vineyard-specific bottles.
Policies: Tip from subscriber in Portland raved about Sunday nights when wines are 50% off.
Pressings: GM Tim Mattera doubles as wine director.
315 First St., Suite 201, Lake Oswego, OR, 97034, 503-697-8889, fivespicerestaurant.com.
Riverside Restaurant, Hood River
Program: Jan McCartan supports Columbia Gorge wineries on both sides of the Columbia, listing 33 wines made locally or using local grapes.
Policies: Most bottles available for less than $50, including Beaux Freres 2009 Les Cousins Pinot Noir ($42).
Pressings: House wines, crafted by Hood River native Rich Cushman, are grown within 5 miles of hotel.
Hood River Inn, 1108 E. Marina Way, Hood River, OR, 97031, 541-386-2200, hoodriverinn.com.
Best B.C. Wine List
Local Lounge * Grille, Summerland
Profile: Undoubtedly the most focused wine list in the Northwest. All wines are within 100 kilometers of the restaurant, with distance from Local Lounge * Grille listed.
Policies: Only wines with Vintner's Quality Alliance earn spot. More than 20 available by the glass. "Bin ends" category a resourceful way to handle closeouts.
Pressings: One of the most fashionable restaurants in British Columbia -- perhaps Pacific Northwest wine country -- now has a website to match.
12817 Lakeshore Dr., Summerland Waterfront Resort & Spa, Summerland, BC, V0H 1Z1, 250-494-8855, thelocalgroup.ca.
Outstanding B.C. Wine Lists
Bistro 101 at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts, Vancouver
Profile: Granville Island academy instructs students with regional ingredients, so provincial wines dominate. This summer, the instructor showed their knowledge of the Okanagan by featuring 2 sparkling wines by 8th Generation.
Policies: Approximately half of the wines available by bottle and glass.
Pressings: Menu changes daily.
Bistro 101 at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts, 1505 W. Second Ave., Vancouver, B.C., V6H 3Y4, 604-734-4488, bistro101.com
Fetch Restaurant, Ucluelet
Profile: Luxury resort on Vancouver Island's remote west coast gears cuisine/list to provincial ingredients.
Policies: Wine cellar, which seats 80, is carved into coastal rocks and temperature controlled by seawater.
Pressings: One travel writer likened this $50M complex to something owned by a James Bond villain.
Fetch, Black Rock Oceanfront Resort, Marine Dr., Ucluelet, B.C. V0R 3A0, 250-726-4800, blackrockresort.com
Miradoro Restaurant, Oliver
Profile: The on-premise restaurant of Tinhorn Creek Vineyards comes with a stunning vista of the Golden Mile and Black Sage Bench. Only Tinhorn Creek. wines are available as glass pours, and there are a dozen on offer.
Policies: If it's not from B.C., it's not on this list. Pentage, our B.C. Winery of the Year, and Silkscarf earn repeat placements, as does the new Clos du Soleil in Keremeos.
Pressings: Sommelier Justin McAuliffe's inventory includes Sandra Oldfield's full library, dating to 1994. Closed January, February.
32830 Tinhorn Creek Road, Oliver, B.C. V0H 1TO, 250-498-3742, tinhorn.com
O'Doul's Restaurant & Bar, Vancouver
Program: Listel Hotel jazz club continues to spotlight Blue Mountain, Burrowing Owl, Joie, Kettle Valley, LaFrenz, Wild Goose, with growing presence by 8th Generation.
Policies: A glass of Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cab for $9.
Pressings: Each summer, the Listel serves as official hotel for the 10-day Vancouver International Jazz Festival.
1300 Robson St., Vancouver, BC V6E 1C5, 604-661-1406, odoulsrestaurant.com.
Best Idaho Wine List
The Orchard House, Caldwell
Program: If it's not made in the Snake River Valley AVA, it won't be sold here.
Policies: Bottles sold virtually at retail prices.
Pressings: Long list of Idaho winemakers show up as friends on their Facebook page.
14949 Sunnyslope Road, Highway 55, Caldwell, Idaho, 83607, 208-459-8200, theorchardhouse.us.
Outstanding Idaho Wine Lists
Brick 29 Bistro, Nampa
Program: Idaho takes center stage with more than 20 in-state wineries represented, including hard-to-find reds from Fraser Vineyard.
Policies: Wine and dine on Monday means 2 can get an entree and a house pour for $29.
Pressings: Dustan Bristol has made semifinals for NW James Beard Award 3 straight years.
320 11th Ave. S., Nampa, ID, 83651, 208-468-0029, brick29.com.
Red Feather Lounge, Boise
Program: Past award winner returns with renewed focus on Northwest wines and local farmers.
Policies: "Probably the No. 1 restaurant in Idaho educating customers on all the great wines in Idaho, Oregon and Washington," a nominating winery owner wrote to us.
Pressings: Ultra-hip wine cellar available for casual dinner or party rental.
246 N. Eighth St., Boise, ID, 83702, 208-429-6340, justeatlocal.com.
The Sandbar River House, Marsing
Profile: Fans of Ste. Chapelle can find 10 of their favorite wines, none priced at more than $19.
Policies: Remains perhaps Northwest's least expensive wine list. More than 30 wines available, only one is more than $30 -- Davis Creek Tempranillo ($30.95.)
Pressings: Restaurant overlooks Snake River with distinctive Lizard Butte rock formation just beyond.
18 Sandbar Ave., Marsing, Idaho, 83639, 208-896-4124, sandbarriverhouse.com.
Eric Degerman is managing editor of Wine Press Northwest. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ken Susynski is a Seattle artist who specializes in wine country art and whose artwork has accompanied this competition's results since 2001. His website is susynski.com.
This story was originally published September 15, 2011 5:54 PM.