Home Industry News Releases 2022 SF Chronicle Wine Competition Crowns Winners

2022 SF Chronicle Wine Competition Crowns Winners


By Laura Ness

The medals were flowing and the wines were showing well at the 22nd annual San Francisco Chronicle Competition held at the Cloverdale Citrus Fair January 11—14, 2022. Featuring only wines from the US, Canada and Mexico, it is the largest wine competition held on US soil.

The Sweepstakes Round of judging occurred on Friday morning, January 14, with 58 wines in front of each judge. Theoretically, only the very best wines from the 5800 entries submitted appear in the Sweepstakes round, where they vie for Best Of The Best in five categories: Sparkling, Rosé, Specialty, White and Red. There is also a separate judging for label design, yielding a Best in Show Packaging winner.  

Beginning with the Sparkling Category, Gloria Ferrer’s 2014 Royal Cuvée Brut bested three other bubblies, including a Blanc de Blanc (2017 Vino Godfather, North Coast), Blanc de Noirs (NV Battle Creek Cellars, Yamhill-Carlton, OR) and a bubbly Rosé of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (2017 Peltier Gala Cuvée Brut, Lodi) to handily win Best Sparkling.

Bragging rights for Best White went to winemaker Susan Tipton of Acquiesce Winery & Vineyards for her 2020 Viognier from Lodi. The field of white wines was 17 strong, representing a broad spectrum of varietals beyond Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay, to include Albarino, Gruner Veltliner, Picpoul Blanc, Traminette and Vignoles. Tipton had three other wines in contention here, including her Grenache Blanc, Picpoul and Roussanne. 

Taking Best Rosé was the 2020 Bernard Griffin Rosé of Sangiovese from Columbia Valley in Washington. It was far and away the best of the field of 6 that made it to finals, including a rosé of Carignane (2021 Carol Shelton Wild Thing Rendezvous, Mendocino County), a rosé of Grenache (2021 Wood Family Pink Pearl, Livermore) and seriously juicy Gamay and Marquette, the 2020 Chateau Chantal Amour Rosé from Michigan.

Best Red of Show went to the 2018 Landmark La Encantada Pinot Noir from Sta. Rita Hills. It had stiff competition from 24 other red wines and blends vying for tops in this category.

In the Specialty Category were six vastly different liquid beasts, including a Late Harvest Muscat Canelli (2021 Alapay, Central Coast), a Mango Symphony fruit wine (Obsession, CA), a port style wine of Muscadine and Chardonnay, a distilled/fortified port (NV Carter Creek Family Winery Dominum Tinto, TX), a Macintosh cider from Gowans of Mendocino, and a pomegranate Mead from Chaucer’s Mead by Bargetto Winery in Santa Cruz. The 2017 Bianco Riserva Muscadine/Chardonnay from Chateau Elan Cellars in Braselton, GA, walked away with Best in Show for the Specialty class. 

Best Packaging this year was awarded to the M2 Patina Red Wine from Acampo, CA, (Certified Green, Lodi Rules), featuring an elaborate cartouche on the massively heavy bottle. 

Sweepstakes White Wines

  • 2021 Wise Villa Sauvignon Blanc, Sierra Foothills, CA
  • 2019 Castello di Amorosa Reserve Chardonnay, Napa Valley, CA

2020 Acquiesce Winery & Vineyards Viognier, Mokelumne River, Lodi – ** Winner, Best White Wine

  • 2021 Ferrari-Carano Pinot Grigio, Sonoma County, CA
  • 2020 Two Bad Labs Semillon, Lewis-Clark Valley, Idaho
  • 2020 Les Bourgeois Vineyard Vignoles, Missouri
  • 2020 Latah Creek Orange Moscato, Lonesome Spring Vineyard Orange, Yakima Valley, WA
  • 2020 Wood Family Albarino, Livermore Valley, CA
  • 2020 L.A. Cetto Chenin Blanc, Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico
  • 2020 Acquiesce Grenache Blanc, Mokelumne River, Lodi, CA
  • 2020 Aurora Cellars Gruner Veltliner, Leelanau Peninsula, MI
  • 2020 Latah Creek Riesling (Med. Sweet), Familigia Vineyards, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, WA
  • 2020 Keuka Spring Vineyard Riesling (Sweet), Wiltberger Vineyard, Finger Lakes, NY
  • 2020 Braganini Reserve Traminette, Lake Michigan Shore, MI
  • 2020 Acquiesce Winery & Vineyards Picpoul Blanc, Mokelumne River, Lodi
  • 2020 Cass “Rockin’ One” White Rhone Blend (40% Roussanne, 40% Marsanne, 20% Viognier), Geneseo District, Paso Robles, CA

Sweepstakes Red Wines

2018 Landmark Vineyards La Encantada Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills, CA- ** Best of Show Red Wine 

  • 2019 Belledor Vineyards Zinfandel, Shenandoah Valley, Amador County, CA
  • 2020 Jeff Runquist Primitivo, Nostro Vino Vineyard, Amador County, CA
  • 2018 Garre Winery Estate Sangiovese, Livermore Valley, CA
  • 2019 Amador Cellars Barbera, Fields Family Vineyard, Shenandoah Valley, Amador, CA
  • 2017 Gianelli Vineyards Dolcetto, Tuolumne County, Sierra Foothills, CA
  • 2018 Hawley Nebbiolo, Camporelli Vineyard, Sonoma Valley, CA
  • NV Bitter Creek Winery Montepulciano, Dragoon Mountain Vineyard, Wilcox, AZ
  • 2017 Cliff Creek Cellars Syrah, Rogue Valley, OR
  • 2019 Michael David Winery “Petite Petit” Petite Sirah, Lodi
  • 2018 Brick Barn Grenache, Santa Ynez Valley, CA
  • 2019 L’Ecole No. 41 Merlot, Columbia Valley, WA
  • 2017 Penman Springs Vineyard Penman Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Geneseo District, Paso Robles, CA
  • 2015 Barrage Cellars “Cease & Desist” Cabernet Franc, Yakima Valley, WA
  • 2019 Imagery Estate Winery Malbec, Upper Ridge Vineyard, Pine Mountain Cloverdale, CA
  • 2019 Matt Parish “Special Bottling” Petit Verdot, Rutherford, Napa Valley, CA
  • 2019 Graveyard Vineyards Tannat, Paso Robles, CA
  • 2020 Jeff Runquist Tempranillo, Liberty Oaks Vineyard, Lodi, CA
  • 2019 Cellar Door Winery Teroldego, America
  • 2020 Sovereign Estate Bourbon Barrel Aged Marquette, Minnesota
  • 2018 Leisure Street “Vino di Volpatti” Brunello Red Wine, Dick Cooper Ranch, Amador County, Sierra Foothills, CA
  • 2017 Darcie Kent “Firepit Red” (Cabernet leading blend), Livermore Valley, San Francisco Bay, CA
  • 2019 Ecluse “Insider” (Tannat leading blend with Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon), Paso Robles, CA
  • 2021 Prairie Berry Black Hills Red (Red Native hybrid blend: Petite Pearl, Marquette and Frontenac), South Dakota
  • 2019 M2 “Duality” Rhone Blend, Lani’s Vineyard, Shenandoah Valley, Amador County, CA

The San Francisco Chronicle North American Wine Competition, generally held in January, is the first major wine competition of the year. There will be a special 40-page section in the newspaper in February highlighting all the medal winners, including Best of Class, Double Gold, Gold and Silver medalists. 

As was the case last year, there will be no public tasting in 2022. Results of the competition can be found at www.winejudging.com. There, you can also read the excellent tasting notes on all the Best of Class winners, expertly penned by longtime wine journalist and judge, Mike Dunne, formerly wine columnist for the Sacramento Bee. 

The SF Chronicle Competition website pays tribute to three longtime judges who passed away in the last year: Chip Cassidy, Jill Ditmire and Jim Caudill. We raise a toast to their honor and thank them again for their inspiration and example.  

Congratulations to all the winners.

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