So you are asking “Who won?”
We had two sets of judges in opposite corners of the banquet room. The judges spent over 4 ½ hours in scoring instructions, tasting, discussing and evaluating the scores at their respective tables. Each table handed in their Best of Class (Categories based on pricing). The results were enlightening and quite frankly amazing in some similarities for two different sets of judges doing a blind tasting. Both sets of judges were doing different categories and could neither be seen or heard in tabulating their results.
The Best of Show (overall) by the Professional Judges went to the 2016 Dracaena Wines Reserve. The wine comes from the Plummer Vineyard in San Luis Obispo County. Dracaena Wines is located in Paso Robles. The current price is $45 on their website and it is described as having “a deep ruby color with aromas of cherry, eucalyptus and roasted coffee aromas”. Perhaps this will encourage you to partake as it makes “your palate dance with excitement over the fresh black cheery, blackberry and toasted oak flavors”. Alcohol is 14.2%. While I didn’t witness any palates dancing by the judges, they certainly voted enthusiastically scoring it Double Gold, winning Best in Class (price category) and then Best in Show. A key point in this win as an observer is that the four professional judges hailed from Napa, two from the Sierra Foothills and one Central Valley. I think this shows their discernment and not showing any partiality to their respective regions. Well done judges.
Professional Judges Results
Best of Class ($30 and less) – 2014 Shale Canyon Wines https://shalecanyonwines.com/
Best of Class ($31 to $60) – 2016 Dracaena Wines, Reserve https://dracaenawines.com/
Best of Class ($61 to $99) – 2016 Vinoce Vineyards https://www.vinoce.com/
Best of Class ($100 and up) – 2013 Mira Winery https://miranapa.com/
The Professional judges gave out 4 Gold Medals: Mira Winery (Carneros, Napa), 3 Steve’s (Livermore), Kenefick Ranch Winery (Calistoga) and Coppermine (Sierra Foothills). The same judges awarded 5 Double Gold Medals: Vinoce Vineyards (Mt Veeder, Napa), Wood Family Vineyards (Livermore), Dracaena Wines (Paso Robles), Merriam Vineyard (Napa, Carneros) and Shale Canyon (Arroyo Seco, Monterey).
The Best of Show (overall) by the People’s Choice Judges went to 3 Steves Winery in Livermore. This was for their dry farmed wine in Cienega Valley, San Benito County. The current price is $45 and does not show up on the website. Even the Professional Judges gave it a Gold Medal. A key point in this win as an observer is that the four People’s Choice judges two hailed from the Sierra Foothills, one Central Valley and one recently moved to the Sierra Foothills from Napa. I think this shows their dedication to the task at hand and not showing any inherit biases. Again well done judges.
People’s Choice Judges Results
Best of Class ($30 and less) – 2014 Shale Canyon Arroyo Seco, Monterey https://shalecanyonwines.com/
Best of Class ($31 to $60) – 2016 3 Steve’s Winery in Livermore for their Cienega Valley entry. https://3steveswinery.com/
Best of Class ($61 to $99) – 2016 Vinoce Vineyards in Mt Veeder https://www.vinoce.com/
Best of Class ($100 and up) – 2016 Detert Family Vineyards, East Block Oakville https://www.detert.com/
The People’s Choice Judges gave out 4 Gold Medals: 2018 Jeff Runquist (Amador, Clarksburg), 2016 Dracaena Reserve (San Luis Obispo County, Paso Robles), 2016 3 Steve’s Winery (Livermore for their Cienega Valley) and 2016 Detert East Block (Oakville). The same judges awarded only one Double Gold to Shale Canyon (Arroyo Seco, Monterey).
Having both Professional Judges and People’s Choice Judges I was warned I might be opening a can of worms. In the end it turned out to a great social and wine event with quality rising to the top. For example in the Best of Class category ($30 and less) both set of judges selected Shale Canyon Arroyo Seco, Monterey. Same with the Best of Class ($61 to $99) with both selected Vinoce Vineyards in Mt Veeder. Add to this that they voted identically on 7 of the wines and 20 wines within one vote up or down from the Professional Judges.
Pic #1 Professional Judges, L to R, Debi Miller, Tom Bender, Tana Cole, Missing is Rudy Zuidema. Pic #2 People’s Choice Judges, L to R, Dave Gardin, Shelby French, John Krause, Steve Besst
I will publish all the awards given in another article shortly but wanted to showcase the Best of Class and Best of Show Winners.
Collectively we are looking forward to the 2020 event and will be inviting Cabernet Franc wineries from all 50 states to participate. If you know of a great Cabernet Franc producer in your area please have them get in touch with me.