In a year that’s anything but typical, the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance kicked off harvest with a new peer-nominated awards program.

The membership marketing organization usually starts the season with a Pre-Harvest Party. Unable to gather with COVID-19 restrictions, winery and vineyard members instead created the awards that will carry forth into the future, the organization said.

Partner member Pioneer Packaging donated the large-format Jeroboam bottles, the equivalent of six standard 750 ml bottles. The “trophies” were embellished with the help of artists Todd Telander, Amy Glase and Mary Derby.

Winners were announced in a virtual pre-harvest toast by wine alliance board President Josh McDaniels and CEO Robert Hansen.

The 2020 awards and winners were:   

The Pivot Award: Time & Direction Wines

The award honors a winery that is excelling in these ever-changing times, getting creative and adjusting to the changes that have come in 2020. Whether through creation of new programs, reimagined sales or beyond, the winery is a leader in the innovating times of coronavirus.

The Ripple Effect Award: Sleight of Hand Cellars

The award is for a winery, partner or grower member that goes above and beyond to look out for neighbors and other members of the Walla Walla Valley wine community, and/or Walla Walla as a whole.

Marketing Mastermind Award: Brook & Bull Cellars

Whether it’s delivering FOMO (fear of missing out) through social media or developing a loyal fan base through innovative marketing practices, the winery that wins this award connects on a whole new level. 

Best Supporting Role: The Thief Fine Wine & Beer

This award is for an alliance partner member that has creatively supported the Walla Walla Valley wine industry and community over the course of the year.

Vineyard Pet of the Year: Sadie at Dunham Cellars

The pet award is for the animals that provide unconditional love and support.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at or 509-526-8321.

Vicki covers business and economic development, including tourism, the Port of Walla Walla and the Strictly Business column, as well as features. She has been reporting for the Union-Bulletin since late 2001.