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Winemaker Carol Shelton Named Honorary Head Judge at the International Women’s Wine & Spirits Competition

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June 13, 2023 (Santa Rosa, Calif.) — Esteemed winemaker Carol Shelton has been named Honorary Head Judge for the 2023 Women’s International Wine & Spirits Competition, which takes place June 21-23 in Santa Rosa, Calif. 

A winemaker since 1978, Shelton is well known in the industry as a maker of world-class single-vineyard Zinfandels as well as a variety of other exceptional wines, including her Wild Thing series (Viognier, Chardonnay, Rosé, Zinfandel and late harvest dessert wine), a number of bold reds (Petite Sirah, Carignane, Barbera, Alicante Bouschet and Cabernet Sauvignon), and forays into Rhône-style offerings such as her Coquille Blanc and Coquille Rouge. Her favorite categories to judge are white Rhône varieties and, of course, Zinfandels. 

“I’ve been judging wines at competitions since the mid-1980s,” says Shelton. “I enjoy seeing and tasting all wines in a certain category — all the Zins, for example. It gives me a perspective on the marketplace and can help reset ‘cellar palate,’ which is when you lose sight of how your wines fit into the larger [consumer] picture.” 

Now in its sixteenth (?) year, the prestigious International Women’s Wine & Spirits Competition is the first and only competition to uniquely identify specific wines and spirits that women will enjoy and, ultimately, purchase. The competition brings together esteemed judging panels made up exclusively of professional women winemakers, distillers, sommeliers, retail buyers, beverage industry educators and journalists. The judges will reward not only the best wines and spirits submitted, but also those they feel would appeal most to women buyers and consumers. 

This competition is open to all winemakers and distillers, regardless of gender, though an extra recognition is awarded to the best woman winemaker and distiller, based on final scores. Shelton, who was named Best Woman Winemaker at this competition in 2021, is being honored for her many years of judging prowess and winemaking excellence. 

“In my experience, I find women’s palates to be more finessed and elegant,” says Shelton. “In the past when I’ve judged this competition, I’ve found the all-woman judging panels to work together as a team better. There’s less head-butting and more conversation when scoring wines. I’m looking forward to the collaborative nature of this judging.” 

For information on the International Women’s Wine & Spirits Competition, go to www.winecompetitions.com/womens

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