Winemaker Robert Smasne Wins Best of Show Honors
at Tri-Cities Wine Festival for 2018 Sémillon

Mercer Estates wins Festival’s first-ever prize for best canned wine.

Ted Davis, President of the Tri-Cities Wine Society (second from right above) presents the Best of Show Award at the Tri-Cities Wine Festival to winemaker Robert Smasne for Smasne’s 2018 vintage Sémillon. Standing next to Smasne is Festival volunteer Mary Hanlon and standing next to Davis at right is Smasne’s father-in-law Les Domingos. Photo by Judith Davis.

Winemaker Robert Smasne won Best of Show honors at the 2019 Tri-Cities Wine Festival held on Saturday, Nov. 16 at Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick, WA., with a 2018 vintage Sémillon bottled under the brand name of Yakima River Winery. Smasne is best known as the owner of Smasne Cellars, headquartered in Prosser, WA., but in the Spring of 2019, he and his wife Cherie Domingos-Smasne purchased the Yakima River Winery brand from John and Louise Rauner.

The Rauners owned and operated Yakima River Winery from 1977 to 2005. But this past Spring, the Smasnes bought the rights to use the Yakima River Winery name and bottled just 60 cases of the first vintage of his award-winning Sémillon displaying the Yakima River Winery label. “All of the 2018 vintages of wine carrying the Yakima River Winery name were fermented in French oak barrels, then aged for nine months before bottling,” Smasne explained. “And all of the grapes used in the 2018 vintages were sourced from vineyards in the Yakima Valley.” The first releases of wine carrying the Yakima River Winery label will total about 600 cases. This is the fourth time in the 41-year history of the Tri-Cities Wine Festival that Smasne has won the Festival’s Best of Show Award.

Smasne also won several other medals at the Tri-Cities Wine Festival, including Double Gold and Best of Class medals for his 2016 Smasne Cellars’ Merlot, Gold and Best of Class medals for his 2013 Smasne Cellars’ Cabernet Franc and a Gold medal for his 2014 Yakima River Cabernet Sauvignon.

For the first time ever, canned wines were judged at the Festival, and the top canned wine prize went to Mercer Estates (another Prosser winery) for their ICAN Chardonnay.   Mercer Estates also came away with Double Gold and Best of Class medals for their 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Two other wineries won Double Gold and Best of Class medals for their wines – Bills Tasting Room (Prosser, WA.) for its 2015 Estate Syrah and Hidden Legend Winery (Victor, MT.) for its King’s Melomel Honey Cherry Wine.

A total of 10 wineries won Gold and Best of Class medals at the Festival.  They included Airfield Estates (Prosser, WA.), Basalt Cellars (Clarkston, WA.), College Cellars (Walla Walla, WA.) Convergence Zone Cellars (North Bend, WA.), Hedges Family Estate (Benton City, WA), Jones of Washington (Quincy, WA.), Longship Cellars (Richland, WA.), Pacific Rim Winery (West Richland, WA.) Smasne Cellars (Prosser, WA.) and Treveri Cellars (Wapato WA.).  Airfield Estates and College Cellars each won three Gold and Best of Class medals. Airfield Estates wines in this grouping included its 2018 Donald D. Miller Chardonnay, 2018 Sauvignon Blanc and 2018 Viognier. College Cellars’ wines in this same grouping included its 2017 Barbera, 2017 Petit Verdot and 2018 Scholarship Red.

Two wineries won Double Gold medals at the Festival – MonteScarlatto Estate Winery (Benton City, WA.) for its 2017 Syrah and Water From Wine (Paterson, WA.) for its 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon.

More than 300 Gold, Silver and Bronze medals were given out at the Festival.  A complete list of medal winners can be found on the Tri-Cities Wine Society’s website at:   When the website opens, click on the tab at the top of the page that says, “Tri-Cities Wine Festival,” then click on the icon in the drop-down menu that says: “Awards.” The Tri-Cities Wine Society produces the annual Tri-Cities Wine Festival along with the Three Rivers Convention Center.