There has been discussion in the Virginia wine industry for some years about implementing a quality alliance which would give wines passing an objective set of quality criteria the right to use a sticker to distinguish them in the marketplace from others. The goal would be to have those producers who want to associate themselves and Virginia wines with quality, pressure others in the industry to adopt the same standards, and collectively raise the quality of Virginia wine, while branding it with the concept of quality with consumers.
Last November the Virginia Wineries Association unveiled the “Commonwealth Quality Alliance” program at Veritas Vineyard & Winery. The CQA program – established to both reward and raise awareness of Virginia-grown wines – is now accepting all 100% Virginia-grown wines to be analyzed in an effort to raise the bar of Virginia wine quality and highlight the state’s elite wines.
“Despite being the oldest grape-growing region in the United States, the modern-day wine industry in Virginia still has a lot of growing to do,” says Laurie Aldrich, Director of the Virginia Wineries Association. “The Commonwealth Quality Alliance is the VWA’s way to help increase Virginia wine production and consumption, enhance its national and international reputation, and perhaps most importantly, to continue to improve the overall quality of Virginia wines.”
Self-regulated quality alliances are models for how the setting of minimal objective quality standards, and a branding of local wine industries with quality, can improve the public image of these regions as well as average wine quality. Examples include Washington, Oregon, New York, Canada, Argentina, Ohio and South Africa. Accordingly, following their successful examples, the Virginia wine industry has implemented the Commonwealth Quality Alliance.
In order to obtain approval by the Commonwealth Quality Alliance program, a Virginia wine must undergo the following steps of analysis:
A juice sample that will analyze the Brix of grapes
- A laboratory analysis of the ready-to-bottle or bottled wine
- A sensory panel evaluation of the ready-to-bottle of bottled wine
Currently, 19 Virginia wineries have produced wines that have been analyzed and approved by the Commonwealth Quality Alliance. To view a list of these approved wines and to learn more about how to become a part of the CQA, visit www.CQAWine.org.
“The Proof is in the Pudding”: CQA Wines Win Medals at Governor’s Cup
Commonwealth Quality Alliance (CQA) certified wines won 14 silver and bronze medals (seven of each) this past February at the Virginia Wineries Association’s Annual Governor’s Cup Gala. All 14 of the competition’s CQA-approved wines that were entered took home medals. The Governor’s Cup is judged each year by fifteen of the industry’s leading sommeliers, wine educators and wine experts, all of whom judge the Virginia wines on appearance, aroma, flavor, overall quality and commercial suitability. The average wine score, which ranks the wine on the 0-100 Wine Spectator scale, is used to then determine if the given wine qualifies for a medal.
The 14 CQA-approved wines that were awarded medals at the 2013 Governor’s Cup Gala had already undergone a strict quality test and approval process as part of the CQA membership. The CQA, which was unveiled last November by the Virginia Wineries Association, was established to reward and promote awareness for Virginia-grown wines. The program aims to continue the advancement of Virginia wines so as to meet international standards, increase production and consumption, and improve the overall reputation and quality of Virginia wine. With the medals that were received by all 14 CQA-approved wines at this year’s Governor’s Cup, it’s clear that the program is headed in the right direction.
Winning CQA-Approved Wines – Governor’s Cup Gala 2013
Chatham Vineyards Church Creek Vintners Blend Bronze
Fox Meadow Winery – 2009 Le Renard Rouge Bronze
Fox Meadow Winery – 2009 Cabernet Franc Reserve Bronze
Molliver Vineyards & Winery – Vidal Blanc Bronze
Rockbridge Vineyards – V’dOr 2010 Bronze
Rockbridge Vineyards – 2008 Meritage Silver
Rockbridge Vineyards – 2008 Merlot Silver
Narmada 2010 Tannat: Silver
Narmada 2009 Cabernet Franc Reserve Silver
Narmada 2011 Viognier Bronze
Narmada 2010 Yash-Vir Bronze
Rosemont of Virginia 2010 Merlot Silver
Rosemont of Virginia 2010 Cabernet Franc Silver
Rosemont of Virginia 2010 Kilravock Silver
To submit a wine or learn more about becoming a member of the CQA, visit CQAwine.org.
About The Virginia Wineries Association
The Virginia Wineries Association has served Virginia Farm Wineries since 1983. VWA is a non-profit trade association that acts on the behalf of the wine industry. The VWA promotes viticulture and vintner practices, provides a multitude of wine resources and benefits to its members. The wineries association hosts Vintage Virginia and supports the Virginia Wine Expo and other wine tasting events. In addition, VWA hosts wines awards such as the Governor’s cup. www.vawine.org