The California State Fair’s Commercial Wine Competition is the oldest in the nation. It’s the only competition of its kind that partitions the state into 11 wine regions to recognize the best wines in each region and to designate best varietals and styles. This year, 2,811 wines were judged over three days by respected winemakers, wine merchants, writers and educators from across the country. The Golden State Winery of the Year Award went to Jeff Runquist Wines from Amador County. The winery received one Double Gold, 11 Gold, 12 Silver and nine Bronze Medals.
The Best of Show Red and White Wines both came from Livermore Valley. The red went to Concannon’s Reserve 2016 Stampmaker’s GSM and the white went to Las Positas Vineyard’s 2018 Verdelho. The Best of Show Pink was Buttonwood Winery’s 2018 Syrah Rose from Santa Ynez Valley.
Korbel’s NV Blanc de Noirs won Best of Show Sparkling Wine and Best of Show Dessert Wine went to Lewis Grace’s 2018 “Fashionably Late,” a late harvest white wine from El Dorado County. The Best Value Wine ($5.99) went to Trader Moon Wine’s 2017 Velvet Moon, Cabernet Sauvignon. To find out more (Best of Region, California, Class etc.) go to CAStateFair.com.
Gold Medal Bargains
I’ve mentioned the exceptional value of the Moon Series wines from Trader Joe’s many times and am not surprised the judges chose Velvet Moon. Wines mentioned here should be readily available, good value to price and under $15. My favorite value wines, Bogle, McManis and SEAGLASS did very well in the competition as did Barefoot, Challis Lane and Sutter Home. Here are three lists of 99 point wines which should be available in your local supermarket.
RED WINES: 2017 Unruly ZIN, $13.95. 2017 Gnarly Head 1924 Double Black Cabernet Sauvignon,, $12.99. 2016 Buena Vista Pinot Noir North Coast, $14.99. 2016 River Road Family Vineyards Pinot Noir, $14.99. 2017 Oak Grove Petite Sirah Family Reserve, $8.99. 2017 Bold Vineyards Lodi Zinfandel, $11.99. 2016 Montevina Barbera Amador, $12. 2017 Woodbridge Cabernet Sauvignon.
WHITE WINES: 2018 J. Lohr Bay Mist Riesling, $10. 2017 Bogle Sauvignon Blanc, $10. 2018 Baron Herzog Pinot Grigio, $10. 2019 Castle Rock Chardonnay North Coast, $9.99. 2018 McManis Chardonnay River Junction, $12.99. 2017 Sterling Vintners Collection Chardonnay, $11.99. 2017 Woodbridge Chardonnay, $6.99
ROSE WINES: 2018 St. Amant Barbera Rose, Lodi, $15. 2018 Scotto Family Cellars Sangiovese Rose, Lodi, $13.50. 2018 SEAGLASS Rose, Monterey, $12.
Two Double Gold 100 point wines worth tracking down are the 2016 Helwig Winery Gold Country Zinfandel Amador County, $18, and the 2017 Fog Head Syrah San Bernabe Vineyard, $17.95. Happy wine hunting. Cheers!