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Sunset International Wine Competition 2020 Announces Results

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Best of Show Goes to 2018 Gracianna Reserve Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley

Best White goes to 2019 Brecon Estate Albarino; Best Rose to Chronic Cellars

Sunset Wine CompetitionSanta Rosa, Calif., —July 2, 2020— The results of the 2020 Sunset International Wine Competition are in, and Gracianna Wines, Russian River Valley, is celebrating a Best of Show win for their 2018 Gracianna Wines Reserve Pinot Noir, $76. Standing tall above the over 2700 entries in this year’s competition, this Pinot Noir wowed the judges with its brilliant bouquet and flawless balance. 

Taking Best of Show White was the 2019 Albariño from Brecon Estate, Central Coast, $31.

Best Rosé went to Chronic Cellars (Winery Exchange) for their 2019 “Pink Pedals” Rosé of Grenache (87 percent) and Syrah (13 percent), from Sonoma, $14.99.

Best Sparkling went to the 2015 Domaine Carneros by Taittinger Estate Brut Carneros, Methode Traditionnelle, $36. It beat out a Sparkling Pinot Noir from Weibel, 17 votes to 12, in the final Sweepstakes.

Best Dessert Wine was awarded to Husch Vineyards for their 2016 Late Harvest Gewurztraminer from Anderson Valley, $25.

Best Fortified (Port) went to Rosa-Lucca Estates 2016 Petite Sirah “Charles Marks” Dessert Wine, Estate Grown, El Dorado County, Sierra Foothills, $16.

Best Cider was bestowed upon Portland Cider Company’s NV “Sorta Sweet” Hard Cider from apples grown in Oregon and Washington, $11.99.

To win Best of Show, the Gracianno Pinot Noir first had to best a field of 12 other reds in the final Sweepstakes. It was a close call, with the 2017 Wilson Family of Dry Creek Primitivo giving it a solid run, followed by the 2017 Imagery Barbera, the 2016 Aratas Petite Sirah, the 2018 Lewis Grace Touriga, and the 2018 Kukeri Cabernet Sauvignon from Stags Leap, all of which scored 10 votes or more in acclimation voting. A faceoff between the Pinot and Primitivo garnered the Pinot 15 votes to the Primitivo’s 13. 

In first round voting, Best of Show White garnered 9 votes for the 2019 Husch Chenin Blanc and 2019 Cinder Wines Viognier, 10 for the Oak Farm Fiano, 13 for the 2019 Duck Hunter Sauvignon Blanc and 14 for the Brecon Estate Albariño. A runoff ensued between the latter two with the Brecon Estate Albariño besting the Duck Hunter Sauvignon Blanc, 18 to 10. (The Duck Hunter Sauvignon Blanc also won Best of Class and was in the final Sweepstakes at last year’s Sunset Competition, making it two in a row for the New Zealand brand.)

Then it was on to the finals for the Pinot Noir and the Albariño, where they faced off against the other Best Of Class winners for top honors. The Gracianna Pinot Noir prevailed with 11 votes, followed by the Pink Pedals Rosé with 5, the Husch late harvest Gewurztraminer with 4, the Brecon Albariño with 3, the Domaine Carneros sparkling with 2 and the Portland Cider Company’s “Sorta Sweet” cider with one vote. 

This year’s competition saw a 10% increase in entries over last year, despite the pandemic, and was held in Santa Rosa the week of June 22. A record 12 judging panels were needed to accommodate the volume of entries, along with physical distancing requirements. Judging panels were comprised of 36 industry experts, including journalists, buyers and winemakers, who judged wines from all over the world over a three-day period.

While many wine competitions have been canceled this year, the 2020 Sunset International Wine Competition was determined to go on. 

Debra Del Fiorentino, President of Wine Competitions Production & Management (WCP&M), who owns and operates the Sunset International Wine Competition, said, “First of all, we are grateful for the support of the local county Health Department in allowing us to run this competition. All imaginable health precautions were taken to ensure the safety of judges and backroom staff, while the wines were given the full measure of respect they deserve. Secondly, we are grateful to all the wineries that sent in their wines for evaluation. This year’s entries garnered a record number of Golds and Double Golds, making for a very competitive Sweepstakes round. The judges had some very difficult decisions to make when faced with those final 30 wines!” 

SWEEPSTAKES WINES

Best of Show White: Brecon Estate 2019 Albariño, Central Coast, $31

Best of Show Sparkling: 2015 Domaine Carneros by Taittinger Estate Brut Carneros, Methode Traditionnelle, $36

  • Weibel Family Winery 2019 Sparkling Pinot Noir Rosé, California, Charmat Method, $15
  • Imagery Estate Winery 2019 Riesling Upper Ridge Vineyard, Pine Mountain-Cloverdale Peak, Sonoma, $26
  • Silvan Ridge Winery 2019 Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley, OR, $16
  • Husch Vineyards 2019 Chenin Blanc, Mendocino, $15
  • Cinder Wines 2019 Dry Viognier, Sawtooth, Emerald Slopes and Williamson Vineyards, Snake River Valley, ID, $23
  • Duck Hunter Wines of New Zealand 2019 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand, $19.99
  • Clos Pegase Winery 2018 Chardonnay, Mitsuko’s Vineyard, Carneros, Napa Valley, $30
  • St. Francis Winery & Vineyards 2019 Estate Cuvée Blanc, (Marsanne, Roussanne), Wild Oak Vineyard, Sonoma Valley, $24
  • Las Positas Vineyards 2019 Verdelho, Estate, Livermore Valley, $35
  • Oak Farm Vineyards 2019 Fiano, Estate, Mokelumne River, Lodi, $26 (Certified Green & Sustainable)
  • Hat Ranch Winery, Vale Wine Company 2019 Moscato Snake River Valley, ID, $15

Best of Show Red & Best of Show Overall: Gracianna Wines 2018 Reserve Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $76 

  • Sculpterra Winery 2017 Grenache, Small Lot, El Pomar District, Paso Robles, $34
  • St. Francis Winery & Vineyards 2017 Dry Creek Zinfandel, Artisan Collection, Dry Creek Valley, $48
  • Wilson of Dry Creek 2017 McClain Primitivo, Grower Series, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, $42
  • Kukeri Wines 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District, Napa Valley, $85
  • Cinder Wines 2018 Tinto Seco Upland Vineyard, Snipes Mountain AVA, WA, (Touriga Nacional, Souzão, Tinta Cão & Tinta Madeira), $45
  • Lewis Grace Winery Trevor Grace 2018 Touriga, Estate, El Dorado, $30
  • Imagery Estate Winery 2017 Barbera, Sonoma County, $42
  • Scribner Bend Vineyards 2016 Black Hat Tempranillo, Clarksburg, $24
  • Ferrari-Carano 2016 Trésor (Bordeaux style blend), Sonoma County, $50
  • Gratus Vineyards, 2017 Malbec, Estate Grown, Napa Valley, $60
  • Merisi Wines 2017 “Il Cocuzzolo” Syrah, Estate Grown, Sky Ranch Vineyard, Solano County, $30
  • Aratas Wine 2016 Petite Sirah, Single Vineyard, Napa Valley, $56

Best of Show Rosé: Chronic Cellars 2019 “Pink Pedals” Rosé, Sonoma, $14.99

Best of Show Dessert: Husch Vineyards 2016 Late Harvest Gewurztraminer, Anderson Valley, $25

Best of Show Fortified: Rosa-Lucca Estates 2016 Petite Sirah “Charles Marks” Dessert Wine, Estate Grown, El Dorado County, Sierra Foothills, $16

Best of Show Cider: Portland Cider Company’s NV “Sorta Sweet” Hard Cider, OR/WA, $11.99

The complete list of Silver and above medal winners can be found here:  2020 Results.

The winners, including all Gold and Silver medalists, will be published in a forthcoming edition of Sunset magazine. Top winners will benefit from significant Sunset media promotion through print, web, social media and PR. 

About Wine Competitions Management & Production (WCMP)

This organization owns and operates a variety of competitions including Sunset International Wine Competition, West Coast Wine Competition, International Eastern Wine Competition, East Meets West, International Women’s Wine Competition, Harvest Challenge, the Craft Distillers Spirits Competition, Press Democrat North Coast Wine Challenge, and Experience Rosé. WCMP also manages the California Cider Competition and the Mendocino Apple Show International Cider Competition.

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