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Fork Dork: Which Restaurants Have Top Wine Programs?

State winemakers recognized The Barking Frog at Willows Lodge in Woodinville, along with other restaurants in Woodinville, Bellevue, Kirkland and Redmond.

Last month wine directors Jennifer Schmitt and Matt Davis were handing out awards to Woodinville winemakers in their second annual Golden Grape Awards, hosted by the Barking Frog and its resort, .

This week, winemakers in Washington recognized Schmitt, Davis and the wine program at Barking Frog with the Washington Wine Commission’s Winemaker’s Choice Award.

The recognition is part of the Washington Wine Restaurant Awards, which culminated with the awards reception at the Washington Athletic Club in Seattle on Monday.

The Winemaker’s Choice Award, selected by an anonymous group of winemakers in Washington, was given to Barking Frog for its support of the Washington wine industry.

“We are always flattered to be recognized by our community,” Davis said. “We think (winemakers) are a fairly critical bunch.

“It's been nice to build a nice close-knit relationship with our suppliers and with our suppliers as customers.”

The Barking Frog wine list includes more than 500 unique labels and a total inventory of more than 1,000 bottles with a focus on Washington wines, more specifically, the more than 70 Woodinville wineries.

The Barking Frog was also recognized with the Washington Wine Grand Award in the three-tier awards program that also includes the Washington Wine Award of Distinction and the Washington Wine Certificate of Recognition.

Other restaurants on the Eastside receiving the Washington Wine Grand Award include , in Woodinville and of Bellevue-based Schwartz Brothers. The Grape Adventure in Kent was also recognized with the Washington Wine Grand Award.

The Washington Award of Distinction was given to at in Kirkland, at the in downtown Bellevue, (Bellevue), and at in Bellevue, (Bellevue, Kirkland and Woodinville locations) and in Woodinville.

and in Redmond received the Wine Certificate of Recognition.

The Metropolitan Grill, the steakhouse in downtown Seattle, received the Restaurant of the Year award, featuring 650 Washington wines in a list 1,600 labels long.

“We are truly honored and humbled by this incredible award,” said Thomas Price, wine director at The Metropolitan Grill.

Adriatic Grill in Tacoma, part of Bellevue-based John Howie Restaurants, received the Washington Restaurant Association award recognizing a member of the association. Adriatic Grill also received the Washington Wine Award of Distinction.

Canlis Wine Director Nelson Daquip was recognized with the Sommelier of the Year award. Daquip presides over the 18,000-bottle inventory with 2,500 unique wine labels and a team of four other sommeliers.

Shayan takes on sommelier post at Willows Inn

Kirkland resident Yashar Shayan was appointed as the sommelier and assistant manager at the acclaimed Willows Inn on Lummi Island off Bellingham. Shayan will start his new post in April.

“I feel like from what I've seen, this is a great restaurant,” Shayan said. “It's a chance for a sommelier to do something that matches the food. It's world class food. It's an opportunity to make a world class wine list.”

The Willows Inn serves prix fixe 5-course dinners with additional “bites” and "snacks" before and between courses. Everything, from the juices to the bread, is made fresh daily with ingredients sourced locally.

Shayan brings extensive experience to the tiny and tony 40-seat restaurant. Most immediately, Shayan was the wine director at Seattle’s iconic Palisade. Previously, he was the sommelier and wine buyer at bin on the lake in Kirkland, sommelier at Seastar in Bellevue and cellar master at in Woodinville. He also worked at the retail stores Wine World Warehouse in Seattle and in Redmond, in addtion to the winery in Woodinville and the restaurant Wild Ginger in Seattle.

Shayan said he will work in collaboration with Chef Blaine Wetzel, who was the sous chef at Noma in Copenhagen. Noma has been rated the best restaurant on “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants” list the past two years.

“I like to collaborate with chefs,” Shayan said. "(Wetzel) had a very clear sense of what the end destination is for the wine program. He feels he doesn't have the knowledge that it takes to that end. That’s where I can help.”

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