The Virginia Wine Governor’s Cup competition took place Jan. 31-Feb. 2nd at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, under the direction of Jay Youmans, MW. The Virginia Wineries Association has released the identities of the 38 Virginia wines which won gold medals in the competition which had over 430 entries. As ususal, red wines dominated the gold medals, but in fairness (disclosure: this writer was one of the judges) it should be pointed out that only 20 or so white wines were judged in the final round (where all silver and higher medals are evaluated). Competition chair Jay Youmans, MW points out that when the Governor’s Case (and Governor’s Cup) awards are made public at an industry gala on Feb. 22nd, the top scoring white gold medal wines will be included in the Case. This was a modification introduced by the Virginia Wineries Association this year, following feedback that not enough fine Virginia whites were reflected in the Governor’s Case.
|Winery||Year||Wine Type||Wine Name|
|Barren Ridge Vineyards||2010||Meritage|
|Granite Heights Winery||2010||Red Vinifera Blend (Non-Meritage)||Evening Serenade|
|Granite Heights Winery||2010||Red Vinifera Blend (Non-Meritage)||Lomax Reserve|
|Sunset Hills Vineyard||2010||Petit Verdot|
|Fabbioli Cellars||2012||Cabernet Franc|
|Granite Heights Winery||2012||Red Vinifera Blend (Non-Meritage)||humility|
|Naked Mountain Winery||2012||Petit Verdot|
|Notaviva Vineyards||2012||Petit Verdot||Excelsis|
|Paradise Springs Winery||2012||Tannat||Single Vineyard, Williams Gap Vineyard|
|Paradise Springs Winery||2012||Red Vinifera Blend (Non-Meritage)||PVT, Williams Gap Vineyard|
|Bluestone Vineyard, Inc||2013||Dessert wines||Blue Ice|
|Breaux Vineyards Ltd.||2013||Meritage|
|Delaplane Cellars||2013||Meritage||Williams Gap|
|Glen Manor Vineyards||2013||Meritage|
|Keswick Vineyards||2013||Signature Series Cabernet Franc|
|Michael Shaps||2013||Red Vinifera Blend (Non-Meritage)||L. Scott|
|Michael Shaps||2013||Dessert wines||Raisin D’Etre White|
|North Gate Vineyard||2013||Meritage|
|Paradise Springs Winery||2013||Meritage|
|Pearmund Cellars, LLC||2013||Petit Verdot|
|Pearmund Cellars, LLC||2013||Chardonnay|
|Stone Tower Winery||2013||Meritage||Hogback Mountain|
|Sunset Hills Vineyard||2013||Aldie Heights Cuvee|
|The Barns at Hamilton Station Vineyards||2013||Petit Verdot|
|Veritas Winery||2013||Meritage||Vintner’s Reserve|
|Vint Hill Craft Winey||2013||Cabernet Sauvignon|
|Ankida Ridge Vineyards||2014||Chardonnay|
|Bluestone Vineyard, Inc||2014||Chardonnay|
|Cardinal Point, Inc.||2014||Cabernet Franc|
|Horton Vineyards||2014||Petit Manseng|
|Keswick Vineyards||2014||Cabernet Franc Estate Reserve|
|Michael Shaps||2014||Petit Manseng|
Cleaning Up: Multiple Gold Wineries
Virginia wineries at the top of the quality tier don’t just make one good wine…they make several. Fully half of the 38 gold medal-winning wines were from wineries that won more than one gold medal in the competition this year. Michael Shaps Wineworks south of Charlottesville won a whopping five gold medals, across the category spectrum from dry white to dry red to dessert wines. That’s not just being lucky!
Granite Heights Winery near Opal, a small but quality-focused winery that’s closed during the winter, brought home three gold medals, all for dry red wines. Paradise Springs Vineyards near Clifton also brought home three golds, also all for dry red wines. Bluestone, Keswick, Pearmund, Pollak, and Sunset Hills Vineyards all won two gold medals apiece.
You know a region is well-suited to a wine category if it produces gold medal wines with them year to year. In the five vintages from 2010-2014, only the 2011 vintage was missing from this year’s red wine gold medals, not because the vintage produced none, but because that vintage is sold out. The statuesque 2010 wines are deep and bold, the 2012s are forward and fruity, producing 8 of the red gold medals, and the 2013s are firm, solid and balanced, with age-worthy wines that are starting to drink well but will improve with further aging (16 of the 38 total gold medals).
The cool, sunny 2014 vintage was great for aromatic whites and cabernet franc, all of which were well represented in this year’s gold medal awards. Interestingly, chardonnay and cabernet franc both out-performed viognier with gold medals (two each) from 2014, although in fairness the viognier crop that year was decimated by primary bud necrosis or winter damage, and with the small quantity resulting, few wineries would want to hold back 50 cases of their small production to qualify to enter the competition.
There has been a debate in recent years about which grape is Virginia’s best, signature red grape. This writer has suggested, and this year’s gold medal results seem to confirm, that red blends are really Virginia’s strong suit instead of varietals. If you want to look at straight varietals though, this writer has also concluded based on results in this competition that tannat and petit verdot are not only up-and-coming, but performing more impressively as solo varietals than merlot or cabernet franc.
The Cup winner, and the 12 wines that made the Governor’s Case, as well as silver and bronze medal winners, will be announced Tues. Feb. 22nd in Richmond, with the Cup presented by Governor Terry McAuliffe.
Download the 2016 Virginia Governor’s Cup Gold Medal Winner list