The 2016 Lake County Wine Awards Competition hosted by the Lake County Winery Association (LCWA) at Langtry Estate wrapped up yesterday. Ten professional wine judges tasted 129 wines during the two day competition. At the end of the judging, six wines were awarded the coveted Sweepstakes awards, the “best of the best” red, white, pink, and dessert wines.
Gregory Graham 2015 Sauvignon Blanc was named the White Sweepstake winner. The wine is made with winegrapes from the Windrem Vineyard in the Big Valley District AVA, an area in Lake County known for producing stellar Sauvignon Blanc winegrapes and wines.
The judges selected two wines for the Red Sweepstake. The Obsidian Ridge 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon shared the honors with Steele Stymie 2012 Merlot. The Obsidian Ridge label is produced by Tricycle Wine Partners in Sonoma County with vineyards located in the Red Hills Lake County AVA. Steele Stymie is well known Lake County winemaker Jed Steele’s premium label.
Cache Creek Vineyards took home the Pink Sweepstake award for their 2014 Rose. The Specialty / Dessert Sweepstake was also a tie with Chacewater Winery & Olive Mill receiving the award for their 2015 Bartolucci Vineyards Muscat Canelli and Gregory Graham earning the same award for his 2014 Bartolucci Vineyards Moscato del Fresco.
When asked for her reaction to the Competition, Deborah Parker Wong, member of the 2016 judges panel and Northern California Editor for The Tasting Panel Magazine noted, “I’ve never been prouder of the winegrowers and producers in Lake County than I was on Thursday morning when we sat down to survey the work we had done the day before.” Lake County’s Stephanie Green echoed Wong’s sentiments, “The winemakers and the farmers truly worked together bringing out the truest of our Terroir in each region. What an incredible tasting competition making it easy to give gold medals that were well deserved but making it extremely difficult to choose sweepstakes and best of class.”
The judges’ thoughts supported the comments from the Lake County wine industry. “Over the past couple of years, we have seen an impressive jump in the caliber of wines made from Lake County fruit, and that showed again at this year’s competition,” said Debra Sommerfield, President of Lake County Winegrape Growers. “Winemakers have come to know that grapes grown in this high-elevation region deliver consistent quality and excellent color and phenolics that contribute an intensity and distinct flavor profile to their wines.”
“It’s wonderful to see how many of the award-winners were made with grapes from some of our region’s most prized vineyards,” Sommerfield said. “Congratulations to the winemakers for crafting such impressive wines and the winegrowers for producing such high-quality grapes.”
LCWA Executive Director Terry Dereniuk agreed with Sommerfield’s comments, noting “It was exciting to hear the judges talk about how good the wines were again this year. The Competition results continue to highlight the quality that you get when you purchase Lake County wines.” The full results of the competition will be available on-line at www.lakecowineawards.org by June 24, 2016.
Taste the Gold Medal Winners
The public will have an opportunity to taste the Gold medal winners during the People’s Choice Wine Tasting on July 30th from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM at Moore Family Winery in Kelseyville. The event will open with a blind tasting of Lake County wines entered by the wineries. Participants will be invited to experience wine like the professionals as they test their palates to select the People’s Choice. The afternoon will include a food and wine pairing demonstration by Chic le Chef, olive oil tasting with local producers, and dancing to music provided by Grand Slam DJ’s. For information and tickets go to www.lakecountywineries.org.
The 2016 Judging Panel
Bob Fraser served as director. Fraser is retired head of the Santa Rosa Junior College Wine Studies Program, owner of Winejudging.com and Jago Bay Vineyards in Lake County. Fraser and his son Scott also produce the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and the Sonoma County Harvest Fair. Fraser brings a seasoned staff to help the event run smoothly including Anne Vercelli who oversees the back room process of getting the wines to the judges and Mark and Kelly Klaver who serve as facilitators for the panels during judging.
The panel of ten judges drawn from the wine industry, education, and media convened on Wednesday to blind taste and evaluate the wines using the West Coast style of judging. Judging this year were Carl Brandhorst, President of Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association, Fairfax, VA; John Buechsenstein, Wine Educator/Sensory Evaluator, The Culinary Institute of America & UC Davis; Martha Dunne, Author "Wait, What Do You Mean?" Asperger's Tell & Show, Sacramento, CA; and Mike Dunne, Contributing Wine Columnist, the Sacramento Bee Sacramento, and CA. Also on the panel were Rick Fraga, Wine Education / Hospitality at Martinelli Winery, Windsor, CA, Stephanie Green, Sommelier and Wine Educator, Kelseyville, CA; Ellen Landis, Wine Journalist/Certified Sommelier/Wine Educator, Vancouver, WA; Ken Landis, Chef and former owner of Landis Shores Oceanfront Inn, Vancouver, WA; Tom Simoneau, KSRO Wine Guy, and owner of Simoneau Vineyards, Healdsburg, CA; and Deborah Parker Wong, Northern California Editor, Tasting Panel Magazine, San Francisco, CA.
Industry Supports the Competition
Sponsors for the 2016 Competition included: AgUnlimited, a Division of The Lyman Group, Inc.; All American Container; American AgCredit; Beckstoffer Vineyards; Bella Vista Farming; CCL Label; Lake County Record Bee; Lake County Winegrape Commission; Langtry Estate; M. A. Silva Corks; Pacini Wines; and TricorBraun Winepak.
The Lake County Wine Awards Competition was created as a regional competition to measure the evolving style and quality of Lake County wines. This is the exclusive competition for wines made with Lake County winegrapes and bearing a Lake County appellation on the label. The Lake County wine region is known for its distinct combination of elevation, climate, and soils plus careful varietal selection, sustainable winegrowing practices, and skillful winemaking producing wines of high quality and recognition in the marketplace.
Started in 2009, the first and second year were fashioned as a People’s Choice Wine Awards competition. Wines were judged in a blind tasting and honors awarded. In 2011, the Competition evolved into a professional wine-judging competition with a panel of wine judges. Winners were invited to pour their wines in the People’s Choice wine tasting that followed the professional competition.
meliLCWA works to promote the wines of Lake County’s high elevation region. Membership is open to wineries, winegrape growers, and individuals or businesses interested in promoting the Lake County wine industry. For more information about upcoming events, sponsorship or membership opportunities, call 707 357-5237 or visit www.lakecountywineries.org.
A blog about happenings in Lake County.