LAKEPORT, Calif. – Wine competitions offer a valuable gauge for measuring wines.
There are a multitude of competitions held in the United States each year with a dizzying array of entries submitted and medals awarded. So what is the essence of a wine competition?
Lake County wines are being put to the test this week with medals hanging in the balance at the 2014 Lake County Wine Competition.
The public will be invited to taste the competition’s winning wines at the 2014 People’s Choice Wine Tasting on Saturday, June 14.
This year’s event will be held at the scenic Langtry Estate and Vineyard, 21000 Butts Canyon Road, Middletown, and will feature wines from 18 Lake County wineries, live music by The Special Guests band, food trucks and sweet treats.
For tickets and information, visit www.lakecountywineries.org/choice .
The 2014 Lake County Wine Competition is being held at Brassfield Estate in Clearlake Oaks with a total of 150 wines to be judged.
Bob Fraser, well known director for the San Francisco Chronicle Competition and the Sonoma Harvest Fair, is this year’s Director for the Competition.
A hand-selected panel of professionals from the wine industry, retail and academia arrived on Tuesday to serve as this year’s judging panel. Fraser brought an experienced team with him to run the mechanics of the Competition.
The “West Coast style” of professional wine judging is being used in this competition. This system employs five-member panels consisting of a winemaker, a wine trade representative, a wine writer or wine media professional, a wine educator, and a culinary or tourism professional.
Wines are poured in a “back room” staffed by professional wine volunteers who bring the wines into the judging area in flight boxes, glasses numbered to correspond with the individual numbered wine bottles.
The judges come to a consensus for individual awards through discussion facilitated by a professional panel coordinator.
This year’s panel includes Jim Gordon, a 30-year veteran of the wine industry, and recently selected to review and report on Lake County wines for the Wine Enthusiast. John Buechsenstein, wine educator and consultant, and Bob Ecker, wine writer and freelance photographer served on the 2013 judging panel and returned again this year.
New judges to the Lake County Wine Competition include John Giannini, Fresno State Winery winemaker and enology lecturer; Sue Straight, freelance writer and wine judge; Christopher Sawyer, Sommelier, Carneros Bistro & Wine Bar; Richard Mercer, owner/president of Experience Italy: Rich Fraga, wine education/hospitality at Martinelli Winery; Ken Landis, chef/owner of Landis Shores Oceanfront Inn; and Tom Simoneau, the Wine Guy at KSRO radio & owner of Simoneau Vineyards.
The back room coordinator and judging panel coordinators play a key role in running a successful wine competition. Anne Vercelli is the backroom coordinator. She has been associated with Bob and the Cloverdale Citrus Fair/San Francisco Wine Competition since 1987. She also works with Bob at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair as the Wine Backroom Coordinator.
Bob Fraser states, "Anne Vercelli is my right arm when it comes to planning, organizing and implementing these wine competitions. We work seamlessly and she is my sounding board in raising the bar for excellence from year to year."
Mark and Kelly Klaver are facilitators for the judging panels. They have years of experience in wine competitions dating back to 1990.
Their role is to enable collaboration within the judging panel to achieve consensus on the wines and record the final award decisions.
Judging results will be posted on the Lake County Wine Awards Web site, www.lakecowineawards.org , by Monday, June 16.
This highly anticipated professional judging event exclusively showcases wine crafted of grapes grown and cultivated in Lake County.
The competition is open to wines that contain at least 75 percent Lake County winegrapes and bear a Lake County appellation on the label.
Special thanks to the sponsors and many volunteers for making this event possible. Sponsors for this year’s Competition and other Lake County Winery Association activities include Brassfield Estate, Gregory Graham Wines, Shannon Ridge Family of Wines, County of Lake, Lake County Winegrape Commission, Sutter Lakeside Hospital, American Ag Credit, Twin Pine Casino and Hotel, AXA Equitable AgriFinance, Beckstoffer Vineyards and Pacini Wines.