Sparkling Wine Takes Top Honors for First Time Ever
April 12, 2021 (Santa Rosa, Calif.) — Winners have been determined in the 2021 Press Democrat North Coast Wine Challenge (NCWC), and for the first time in the event’s nine-year history, a sparkling wine has bested the competition. Sonoma-Cutrer’s 2014 Grand Cuvée was chosen by judges as the Best of the Best.
This regional competition rates wines exclusively produced and bottled in Northern California’s premier winegrowing region. Eligible wines must be made from fruit sourced in the North Coast AVAs of Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Sonoma, Marin and parts of Solano counties. This includes any bottled wine labeled with these AVAs as their main source of grapes and whose winery is in California.
This year’s NCWC had the highest ever number of entries (nearly 1,200) from a record number of individual wineries (221), indicating both the prestige of the competition and the hunger for the region’s wine industry to get back to business as usual. Judges included winemakers, retail buyers, sommeliers, wine-based media, and wine educators.
Medals were awarded to 1,129 wines, which represents 95 percent of the wines entered. “It’s certainly a huge testament to the great wines we have in our area,” said Head Judge Daryl Groom. “We are dealt the perfect hand of local experts in viticulture and farming; passionate, knowledgeable, and talented winemakers; and a world class grape growing climate with vast diversity for many varietals to do well.”
This year saw 31 wines elevated to the sweepstakes round: three sparkling wines, seven white wines, two rosé wines, 17 red wines, and two dessert wines. This was two more wines than made final consideration in 2020.
In the Santa Rosa Press Democrat newspaper, Groom described the winning wine as “a fantastic example of Californian sparkling wine. It’s a classic sparkling style.” The paper also suggested the choice was a reflection of current consumer trends: “Wine judge Bill Hayes from BevMo! reported that his company has seen a huge uptick in interest in sparkling wine. ‘It was a bit of a shock, but it seems to mirror what the consumers are having an interest in,’ Groom said.”
NCWC is a production of Wine Competitions Management & Production in Sonoma County, Calif. Public announcement of all top awards was made in a live stream April 7. View the broadcast here.
TOP WINNERS AT 2021 PRESS DEMOCRAT NORTH COAST WINE CHALLENGE
- Best of the Best: Sonoma-Cutrer 2014 Grand Cuvée, Russian River Valley, Méthode Traditionelle, Winemaker’s Release
- Best of Show Sparkling: Sonoma-Cutrer 2014 Grand Cuvée, Russian River Valley, Méthode Traditionelle, Winemaker’s Release
- Best of Show White: Frostwatch 2018 Chardonnay, Bennett Valley, tied with the Halleck Vineyard 2019 Dry Gewurztraminer, Russian River Valley
- Best of Show Rosé: Grey Stack 2020 Four Brothers Rosé, Bennett Valley Best of Show Red: Sonoma-Cutrer 2018 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
- Best of Show Dessert Wine: Navarro Vineyards 2019 Late Harvest Sweet Riesling, Anderson Valley
- Best of Sonoma County: Sonoma-Cutrer 2014 Grand Cuvée, Russian River Valley, Méthode Traditionelle, Winemaker’s Release
- Best of Napa County: Michael Pozzan 2018 Zinfandel, Oakville
- Best of Mendocino County: Navarro Vineyards 2019 Late Harvest Sweet Riesling, Anderson Valley
- Best of Lake County: Brassfield Estate Winery 2020 Sauvignon Blanc
For a full list of Gold and Double Gold medals, go to www.pressdemocrat.com