Belle and Bottle Wine Awards Gives Women a Platform

There’s an exciting new wine awards program launching! Founded by Laura Huston, the Belle and Bottle Wine Awards program is to take place for the first time in 2022. Not only does the program highlight top wines. It intends to give women a platform to share their expertise and elevate one another.

Laura Huston of Belle & Bottle

Since I started my own business providing social media and marketing services to the wine industry, one of the joys is that I never know what kind of project will come my way. When Laura asked me to join the advisory panel for the awards program, I couldn’t refuse. After all, when I hosted virtual tastings in 2020 Laura backed me 100% and provided wine through her Belle and Bottle online shop. (By the way, the Food and Wine Magazine named Belle and Bottle Wine Club one of the best wine clubs in America!) It also probably doesn’t hurt that this isn’t my first involvement with a wine awards program.

As someone who did not receive a lot of support when I entered the wine industry, I do what I can to raise up other women I meet along the way. Laura’s concept to “create a wine competition that empowers women, be they consumers or working in the industry” is something I can get behind. Furthermore, there is an underlying goal to form a diverse tasting panel and to tap into women from many different areas of expertise and jobs within the wine industry. If that sounds like something you’d like to support, too, perhaps you’d like to be a sponsor?

Save the Date for Belle and Bottle Wine Awards

Wine Awards Evaluation
May 9-11
At Chateau Lill
Woodinville, WA
Wine Submission

Grand Tasting Event
July 23
At Sparkman Cellars
Woodinville, WA
Purchase Tickets

Press Release

New Awards Program to Feature Tasting Panel of All Female Wine Professionals

WOODINVILLE – The Belle and Bottle Wine Awards program is taking place for the first time in 2022. Wine evaluations,  conducted by a panel of all female wine professionals, take place on May 9th. This approach to wine evaluation desires to elevate the role of women in the wine industry as well as advocate for female wine buyers whether in the trade or consumers. A consumer tasting event to highlight winning wines is to follow in July.

Women buy 80% of wine purchased in the U.S. according to a research paper published by the International Journal of Wine Business Research. Additionally, “While winery region is very important to both men and women, women rely on medals and awards more than men.”

The Belle & Bottle Difference

“We will continue with traditional awards that wine buyers have come to expect but through our special awards we will begin to call out approachable ways to assist the wine consumer,” said Laura Huston, founder of Belle & Bottle Wine Awards. “We will have the megaphone of the women who help us at the evaluation event as well as continued marketing for the year surrounding the winners through winemaker features, interviews, and social media.”

Moreover, the tasting panel will be a place to empower women in the wine industry. A diverse panel of judges from all areas of the industry with outstanding qualifications and varied experiences is sought. We will also extend invitations to women to assist with the judging. This is an excellent opportunity for those who wish to increase their skills, to learn, and be mentored by the judges. These female professionals can use their voices in this safe and supportive forum to grow together. The strength of the panel will be not only what they bring to the table but what they leave with. If they are a buyer, they have new knowledge for their restaurant or store. If they are in media, they now have new stories to tell.

Although judged solely by females, wine submissions from ALL wineries are encouraged. Registration is now open to wineries who wish to be part of this groundbreaking event and submit their wines for evaluation. The wines evaluated will have the value of a female perspective and the marketing power behind this. A yearlong marketing campaign is planned.

The tasting panel convenes for the Awards Competition May 9-11 at Chateau Lill in Woodinville.
The Grand Tasting Consumer Event: July 23 at Sparkman Cellars in Woodinville.

About Belle & Bottle Wine Awards

This awards program was conceived of by Belle & Bottle founder Laura Huston. An advisory team includes Nancy Croisier, Certified Specialist of Wine and owner of VinoSocial, MacKenna Bean a Level II Certified Sommelier and team member at Quilceda Creek and Kaleen Skersies, Sponsorship Manager. For more visit

Contact Information:
Laura Huston

Follow the #BelleandBottleAwards on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Help spread the word!

Why Wineries Need to Provide (S)elf Care On Social Media

A human in an Elf on the Shelf costume is one of the best things I’ve seen on a winery’s Instagram account. While some brands out there try to educate or inspire, the social media posts I’m talking about offer pure entertainment with a focus on (s)elf care. And damn, they’re (mostly) funny – real laugh out loud belly shaking funny!

(S)elf Care. Posted with permission from Alexandria Nicole Cellars.

Continue reading “Why Wineries Need to Provide (S)elf Care On Social Media”

Classic Glassware Gifts for Wine Geeks

The search to find just the right gift for a wine lover can be daunting. As someone who works in the wine industry, I offer  this round up of some classic glassware for wine geeks that I recommend in the hope to make it easier. In fact, these glasses are part of my personal arsenal.

In case you missed it, allow plenty of time for shipments to arrive this year. Inundated carriers and supply chains with challenges are ongoing themes. At the time of publication items were in stock. Just click on the images to order and get more details.

Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. When these links are directly used to purchase an item I may receive a small commission and do cartwheels at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!

Classic Glassware

Riedel Veritas Tasting Glasses

A set of proper stemware is a wine geek’s dream come true! This line of leaded crystal glass has an elegant presence partly attributed to the thin stems that give them an ultra-luxe feel, yet is dishwasher safe. Honest – I haven’t hand washed a wine glass in years.

Riedel Champagne Flutes

We use Champagne glasses at VinoSocial HQ every week because we’re firm believers that a special occasion isn’t required to pop the cork on a bottle of bubbly! In fact, we’ve been known to indulge in nachos and sparkling wine.

Wine Decanter

In our house we have three decanters, all used regularly, sometimes even simultaneously when we conduct taste comparisons. So if a wine lover you know already has a decanter, they could probably still use another! This one has a nice design that’s easy to hold and pour from.



If you want to add a little something extra to your gift of classic glassware for wine geeks, every aficionado appreciates a bottle of something special or different. Browse the selection at  Wine Gifts | Carefully chosen for every occasion. While you’re there, check out the Riedel polishing cloth and Repour Wine Saver along with other great wine glass options, and a variety of wonderful Champagne selections. As a special thank you save 10% off your order of $150 or more when you use code JOY150. Offer valid through 12/12/21.

Why a glass polishing cloth? A professional photographer taught me that it’s imperative to carry around a good polishing cloth if you’re going to take pictures of wine glasses and bottles. This is especially true for bloggers who want to post quality images to the Gram!

As for Repour, with the number of wines I evaluate and write about, it’s handy to be able to taste a bottle over several days. This wine preserver is an easy and cost-effective tool that allows me to do so. Wine students and other industry folks can benefit from this tool.

Happy shopping and happy holidays!



How Writing Plays a Role in Wine Competitions

Guest author Dana Van Nest shares a behind the scenes look into the Great Northwest Wine competitions.

“Intriguing nose of cherries jubilee, sweet herbs, and chocolate-covered blueberries,” I noted about the 2017 Siren’s Reserve Beijo Red Wine from Siren Song Wines. “Juicy red berries and plum greet you in this smooth and very drinkable blend, and later give way to chocolate and hints of tobacco.”

The Columbia Gorge Hotel where the Great Northwest Invitational takes place

At the Great Northwest Wine Invitational, held this past October at the Columbia Gorge Hotel, I tasted 67 Gold medal-winning wines and wrote tasting notes for each in less than two days. Eric Degerman, journalist and owner of Great Northwest Wine, had invited me to return for a second time as a Chief Judge for this competition (I also served as a Chief Judge at the Cascadia International Wine Competition last May).

With approximately 800 wines entered in this invitation-only competition, we start early with the panels of wine judges receiving their first flights at 8:30 am. The panel is comprised of a number of the region’s most respected wine buyers and merchants. They are a knowledgeable and generous crowd with whom I seriously enjoy getting to work, eat, and drink with for two days. After the panels have chosen the Golds for each flight, the Chief Judges (typically two or three of us) get to work.

Continue reading “How Writing Plays a Role in Wine Competitions”

Easy Recipe: Brussels Sprout Salad and Wine Pairing

As soon as the leaves start falling off the trees, I look forward to the availability of Brussels sprouts. This salad recipe calls for the help of a food processor which makes prep incredibly easy. Plus, it can be made in advance, so is a terrific side when company is coming. What’s more, its shades of red and green make it a festive addition to meals during the holiday season. So what are you waiting for? It’s time for Brussels sprout salad and wine!



Makes 4-6 servings

Salad Ingredients

1 pound Brussels sprouts
seeds (aka arils) from 1 pomegranate
1/4 – 1/2 cup walnuts Continue reading “Easy Recipe: Brussels Sprout Salad and Wine Pairing”