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Monday, August 5, 2019 — Esteemed wine judges from Northern California gathered in Mendocino County’s beautiful Anderson Valley to judge the 41st Annual Mendocino County Fair Wine Competition, one of the oldest regional wine competitions in the state. This year, there were 262 wine entries from 50 wineries, a record high. An impressive number of medals were awarded: 33 double golds, 34 gold medals and 115 silver medals. This year’s distinguished judges included journalists, sommeliers and wine buyers: Dan Berger, Laura Ness, Mark Bowery, John Sverko, Mike Dunne, Chris Sawyer, Greg Richtarek, Debra Del Fiorentino, Melanie Mann and Donny Sudthisa.

Best of Show Awards, chosen from Best of Class winners for 2019 are:

  • Best of Show Sparkling – NV McFadden Sparkling Cuvée Brut Rosé
  • Charlie Barra Award / Best of Show White – 2018 Navarro Vineyards Edelzwicker
  • Best of Show Rosé – 2018 Pennyroyal Farm Anderson Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir
  •  John Parducci Award / Best of Show Red – 2017 Foursight Clone 05 Pinot Noir 
  •  Best of Show Dessert – 2018 Navarro Vineyards Late Harvest Riesling – Cluster Select.

Navarro Vineyards was once again a big winner at the wine competition with two Best of Show awards, eight Best of Class, ten double golds, three golds and twelve silver medals for their 27 entries. Veteran Navarro winemaker, Jim Klein, aces pretty much every variety he touches, and reflected that he’s had a long time to “get it right.” Other returning winners to the stage were McFadden, Foursight and Pennyroyal.

One category that has grown significantly is the Blush and Rosé wine category. This year there were 27 entries, up from 20 entries in 2018. And of those 27 entries – 18 received medals: four double gold, five gold and nine silver. Clearly this is category that is showing robust growth and popularity! Judge Mike Dunne reflected on the size and overall quality of the rose category, saying, “The 27 represented about 10 percent of all wines entered, a high proportion that speaks to the popularity of the genre. Also, the high percentage of the entries to get silver or gold speaks to how well and how quickly Mendocino winemakers have mastered pink wines.” Journalist, Laura Ness, added, “Winemakers here understand how to make rosé with the same finesse as they do white wines.”

Naturally, Pinot Noir was the big player in the Mendocino County Fair Wine Competition with a total of 39 entries for vintages ranging from 2014-2017. The 2017 Foursight Clone 05 Pinot Noir was the judges favorite by a wide margin, earning the coveted John Parducci “Best of Show” Red wine.

Another strong category this year was the Other Whites, which saw 19 entries, almost all of which received medals. Dunne remarked, “A strong showing by such varietal wines as Muscat Blanc, Vermentino and Pinot Blanc showed that grape varieties other than Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir and Riesling are comfortably at home in Mendocino.”

Other Reds also made a vibrant showing. “The fact there were so many ‘other reds,’ with the vast majority receiving medals, speaks highly of the vast diversity of the AVA and the ability of winemakers to convey the uniqueness of each variety,” said Ness.

Gold medal wines will be poured at the Mendocino County Fair in Boonville, September 13-15, 2019.

A complete list of 2019 Mendocino County Fair Wine Competition Awards is available online at: http://www.mendowine.com/events/2019-mendocino-county-fair-wine-competition-awards.php.

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