By Peg San Felippo
City & Shore Magazine
Wines from California, Washington and Oregon won the majority of medals this year at South Florida’s home-grown American Fine Wine Competition, but the states of New York and Michigan uncorked a few surprises of their own.
Nearly half the nearly 700 U.S. wines entered in the 12th annual competition, Jan. 19-21 at the FIU campus in North Miami, won a gold or double gold medal. Forty-nine percent of the wines in the invitation-only competition won in the gold categories while an additional 40 percent received silver medals.
“We aren’t surprised by the outcome,” said Shari Gherman, co-founder and president of the AFWC. “We worked very hard this year to work with our resources and connections as well as recommendations of some of our judges, to really expand our invitation list to new wineries. Many of them produce exceptional wines and don’t normally enter competitions.” Wines in the competition ranged from $14-$250 a bottle.
The 32 judges, who included restaurant owners, sommeliers, wine educators and writers, served on tasting panels of four for the preliminary judging but all gathered in the stadium-style tasting classroom at the Chapman School of Hospitality and Tourism building to select the best of show wines.
While the majority of wines are predominantly from the California, Washington and Oregon, three of the best-of-show winners came from some lesser-known wine-producing areas. The Winner of the Best of Show Sparkling wine category was from Glenora Wine Cellars in the Finger Lakes of New York. Both Best of Show White and Sweet Wine came from the Winery at Black Star Farms in Traverse City, Mich.
Not new to winning distinguished awards, Black Star Farms beat out 566 other Rieslings from six countries this last October to win Best Wine of 2018 for their Dry Riesling at the 19th Annual Canberra International Riesling Challenge held in Canberra, Australia. This was only the second time that an American wine has ever won this competition.
Here are the Best of Show and Best of Class winners:
BEST OF SHOW
Glenora Wine Cellars 2013 Brut, Finger Lakes, N.Y. ($30)
Winery at Black Star Farms 2016 Semi-Dry Riesling “Arcturos”, Leelanau Peninsula, Mich. ($14)
Winery at Black Star Farms 2016 Riesling “Arcturos”, Old Mission Peninsula, Mich. ($52)
Chase Cellars 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District, Napa, Calif. ($125)
St. Amant Winery NV Port “Lot #11” Amador County, Calif. ($35)
BEST OF CLASS
Sauvignon Blanc: Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards 2017, Umpqua Valley, Oregon ($23)
Chardonnay: Husic Vineyards 2016 Dutton Ranch, Sonoma Coast, Calif. ($50)
Viognier: RIVINO 2017 Estate grown, Mendocino, Calif. ($25)
Other White Single Varietals: Klinker Brick Winery 2018 Grenache Blanc, Lodi, Calif. ($20)
Other White Blends: Acquiesce Winery 2017 “Belle Blanc,” Lodi, Calif. ($32)
Pinot Noir: Bee Hunter Wine 2014 “Oppenlander Vineyard,” Mendocino, Calif. ($48)
Zinfandel: Michael David Winery 2015 “Lust,” Lodi, Calif. ($59)
Cabernet Franc: Ancient Oak Cellars 2014 “Alcaeus,” Sonoma Mountain, Calif. ($75)
Merlot: Raymond Vineyards 2016 Reserve, Napa Valley, Calif. ($30)
Syrah: Klinker Brick Winery 2015 “Farrah,” Lodi, Calif. ($20)
Red Bordeaux-style Blends: B Cellars Vineyards and Winery 2016 “Blend 27,” Napa Valley, Calif. ($87)
Cabernet Sauvignon: Chase Cellars 2016 Stags Leap District, Napa, Calif. ($125)
Grenache: VIE Winery 2015 “L’Imaginaire,” Lake County, Calif. ($45)
Other Red Single Varietals: Lava Vine 2016 Tempranillo, Suisun Valley, Calif. ($40)
Other Red Blends: V. Sattui Winery 2016 “Entanglement,” Napa Valley, Calif. ($40)
Petite Sirah: Ballentine Vineyards 2016 Pocai Vineyard, Calistoga, Calif. ($45)
Complete results of all the winners are available on the AFWC website, www.americanfinewinecompetition.org.
Peg San Felippo, City & Shore‘s wine writer, is a certified sommelier who has served as a judge on the American Fine Wine Competition. PHOTO: Some of the winning wines from this year’s AFWC.