After being nominated for many years, storied Seattle restaurant Canlis has won a James Beard Award for its wine program.

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Canlis, arguably Washington’s most storied fine dining establishment, scored one of the biggest prizes in its illustrious 67 years, winning its first James Beard Award for “Outstanding Wine Program.”

“This is our tenth nomination, and our first time on the stage, and it feels so good,” Brian Canlis told the cheering crowd at Lyric Opera in Chicago Monday night.

Canlis beat out Benu in San Francisco, Emeril’s in New Orleans, Fig in Charleston and Miller Union in Atlanta for the honor.

Canlis’ chef Brady Williams was also up for Rising Star Chef of the Year, losing to Zachary Engel of Shaya, in New Orleans. In the “Best Chef Northwest” category,  Seattle finalists Edouardo Jordan (Salare and JuneBaby) and Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi (Joule, Revel, and Trove and Portland’s Revelry) lost to Portland’s Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton of Ox.

In the award for “Best Wine Program,” James Beard’s criteria are “a well-presented wine list,”  “knowledgeable staff and efforts to educate customers about wine.”

Canlis has a wine list that stretches to 88 pages (check out the menu here) and has helped train four Master Sommeliers and nine advanced sommeliers.

Even before the honor, Canlis made a bodacious claim on its website, boasting it has “one of the best wine lists in the world.” Now it has one of the coveted prizes to back it up.

Ten minutes after their win, Mark Canlis was backstage with his brother and staff, trying to do a phone interview over all the laughing and cheering. “We’re ecstatic. I wish you could see the smile on (Wine and Spirits Director) Nelson Daquip’s face. It could light up the world right now,” he said.

Back in Seattle, the Canlis crew was screaming and jumping up and down, celebrating with Champagne during the pre-shift meeting.

Canlis’ win is the biggest score for any Seattle chef or restaurant at the James Beard Awards since Tom Douglas won “Outstanding Restaurateur” in 2012.

List of all the James Beard award winners here.


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