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Carol Shelton Named Winemaker of the Year by Women’s International Wine Competition 2021 

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Best of Show Awarded to 2019 Carol Shelton Wines “Coquille Rouge” Rhone Blend

Carol Shelton

Santa Rosa, Calif., — July 5, 2021— Winemaker Carol Shelton was honored by her peers at the 2021 Women’s International Wine Competition, which is judged exclusively by women, who named her “Winemaker of the Year.” Not only did she take Best of Show for her 2019 Coquille Rouge Rhone Style Blend, a fetching, energetic Rhone style blend comprised of 34% Mourvèdre, 17% Carignane, 17% Petite Sirah 15% Alicante Bouschet and 17% Grenache Noir, but she had more Gold medal winning wines in the competition than any other winemaker. 

This was the first Best of Show win for Shelton in 2021, who recently added to her list of honors by winning Best of Show White for her 2019 Coquille Blanc Rhone Style Blend, at the recently held El Dorado Wine Competition. 

Says Shelton, “I am thrilled to be named Woman Winemaker of the Year!  It is about my 10th winemaker of the Year award, and it never gets old!  Many thanks to Debra Del Fiorentino and her crew, and to all the judges for making this possible.”

Shelton explains that she always considers who the judges are on the panels when entering a particular competition. There are a core set she consistently enters in all of them, including her “Wild Thing” series (Zinfandel, Chardonnay, Rosé, Viognier), and her flagship Rocky Reserve Rockpile Zin.

However, for the Women’s Wine Competition, she knows there are some very sensitive and discerning palates that nudge her to select wines that are even more nuanced, complex and subtle.

Beginning with her days as winemaker at Windsor Vineyards in the 1980s and 1990s, she has always found competitions a great way to measure her wines against those of her peers.  “I have always loved the feedback that wine competitions gives me—it was a game to see if I could beat other wineries like Geyser Peak and Fetzer who were attempting to win more awards than any other winery.  I was able to do that for 15 out of the 20 years I was there!”

She recalls a book called “Varietal Fair” that summarized all judging results for a dozen or more competitions, based on points for each medal.  “Aside from the friendly competition, I always liked getting feedback on how my wines were being perceived and received, especially since Windsor’s wines were all direct to consumer and I did not get much exposure to those consumers myself, since I did not go out on the road like most other wine brands do for wholesale sales.  When I got a Best of Class award, especially for Zin, since that is my specialty, it told me that I was headed in the right direction, that the style I was producing was at least as good as my competitors, was going to be appreciated by my customers and would SELL!  I mean that is what it is all about…sales, right?”

Shelton describes winemaking as a “tough profession,” as you are essentially producing a consumable artform. “I stick my neck out to create a product that costs me beaucoup bucks to produce, so it is very beneficial to receive some credibility in the eyes of both consumers and the trade from these competitions’ results.  Sales are a good result, as well as the confidence it builds in me to continue on my current course and style.”

All the results of the 2021 Women’s Wine Competition can be found here in the links below.

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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