From Texas to Virginia, winning wineries span the U.S.

Published 3:52 pm PST, Friday, February 15, 2019

While a majority of wines entered in the annual San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition hail from California, each year more and more national wineries submit their prized bottlings. It’s a badge of honor — and an excellent marketing tool — to have the panel of more than five dozen professional judges sample and score the wines.

This year, three out-of-state wineries took home the most coveted awards of all, the Sweepstake medals. These are wines selected in the competition’s final tasting “for the best of the best.” Along with five California wines (plus a California wine that won the best label category), Sweepstake winners came from Texas, New York and Virginia.

Texas: Specialty Sweepstake WinneR

4R Ranch Vineyards & Winery 2017 Texas Nectar Nero ($15.99, 456 cases of 375ml 12-packs produced)

This is the first time 4R has participated in the competition, and winemaker Willem Johnson said he was “delighted to be at the tip-top of the list of entrants.” Already, the award has boosted sales, he noted.

“The website has been busy, and the phone started ringing shortly after the competition results came in,” he said.

Johnson makes his distinctive dessert wine in his Red River Valley ranch Barnhaus, a historic hay barn turned into a solar/geothermal-powered facility. Crafted as 100 percent Moscato Nero, the gold-hued Rosé is designed for top quality but also value.

“We work with terrific growers to find the best fruit at the best prices available,” Johnson said. “Then my team and I work very hard to find the best balance in the glass we can.”

New York: Sparkling Sweepstake Winner

Goose Watch Winery NV Finger Lakes Brut Rosé ($23.99, 800 cases produced)

A first-time entrant in San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, Goose Watch is a branch of Swedish Hill Winery in Finger Lakes. Privately owned by the Peterson family since 1969, the company now produces more than 60,000 cases annually.

For this boutique Brut production, winemaker Dave Peterson seeks to keep it an affordable luxury even as it is crafted in small batches.

“The grapes are entirely Finger Lakes grown and are primarily — about 75 percent — from our estate vineyards at Goose Watch,” he said. “We sell most of this product direct to the consumer through our tasting room and internet sales, so this also helps us keep our retail price down.”

Virginia: Sparkling Sweepstake Winner

Trump Winery 2014 Monticello Méthode Champenoise Blanc de Blanc ($34, 10,000 cases produced)

Trump Winery has been entering the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition for the last five years, and has received multiple awards over that time including a Gold Medal for its 2012 Sparkling Rosé and 2016 Cabernet, a Double Gold for its 2009 Brut Reserve and a Gold for its 2010 Blanc de Blanc.

“The Blanc de Blanc has been my favorite wine to produce year after year,” said winemaker Jonathan Wheeler. “I am always focused on improving the quality of the wines, starting in the vineyard, so to have a panel of such esteemed judges rate our 2014 Blanc de Blanc the best sparkling wine validates all of our hard work and dedication. I am so proud of the vineyard and winery team and everyone involved in making this wine.”

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/From-Texas-to-Virginia-winning-wineries-span-the-13621027.php.

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