Benton City Winery Hopes to Move Industry Away from Wine Scoring - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Benton City Winery Hopes to Move Industry Away from Wine Scoring System

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BENTON CITY, WA - Here in the heart of wine country, one local winery is looking to start a revolution. A scoREVOLuTion, that is. 

In the late 70's, early 80's, wine scores became a popular thing. Typically, it's a 100-point system that lets someone buying a bottle know just how good it is. But, according to two guys at Hedges Family Estate in Benton City, the ratings are a thing of the past.

"It's the most powerful tool in the world for wine. And that's a scary thing because it's a very one sided, opinionated kind of thing," said Boo Walker, who handles sales and marketing.

Walker says wine scores are heavily relied upon all over the U.S. and in dozens of other countries. You see them at the grocery store, online, in magazines and sometimes even on the bottle itself.

"There's really just a few magazines and maybe ten critics out there who are deciding what the good wines are as far as wine scores go," said Walker.

"If you would like a high score, increase the weight of your bottle. So use heavy glass. Increase the alcohol in your product, perhaps use more new oak," said international sales manager, Christophe Hedges.

There's something of a recipe to earn that mid-90'score, which is where Hedges bottles typically ranked before they pulled out of the system about ten years ago.

"We decided to publicly announce that we wouldn't submit any more wines for scores and we politely asked that they not score us either," said Walker.

"We had to change the wines that we felt were appropriate for Red Mountain, to change those wines to be appropriate for a high score and that's where the line was drawn and that's where we left," said Hedges.

Now, Hedges and Walker are the men behind scoREVOLuTion, an effort to rid the industry of wine scores, altogether.

"We put Red Mountain on the front of our label. That is our score. Red Mountain. Because that describes the geography. That's much more interesting than a 95," said Hedges.

"We at Hedges are just trying to push that a little bit and just try to reach out and educate people and say hey, it's ok to just like whatever you like and that's all that really matters," said Walker.

Hedges said that the ratio of Washington wineries to the average of high scores puts the state at number one in the world when it comes to scoring.