The Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association (ASWA) held its 14th annual wine competition August 4 and 5 at the Marriott Tysons Corner, VA. ASWA’s Wine Competition is the largest in the nation focused exclusively on East Coast wines. A panel of nineteen judges scored 483 wines made in the eastern US. This year’s Best of Show wine, CrossKeys Vineyard “Fiore” 2017, was selected from thirty-three Best of Category Winners.
CrossKeys Vineyard Fiore 2017, a rosé wine composed of 70% cabernet franc and 30% chambourcin, was made with estate-grown Shenandoah Valley AVA fruit. It shows a rich fruitiness balanced with savory herbal notes. The winery recommends pairing it with soft cheeses, rich seafood dishes, or herb-rubbed poultry to show off the complexity of the wine.
CrossKeys is owned by the Bakhtiar family, and is located in Mount Crawford, VA, in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley. A spokesperson for the family says, “We are honored to be recognized for this prestigious award and our wine making and vineyard team are so happy to see the fruits of their labor not only enjoyed by happy customers but also recognized by this amazing award.”
Grapes for the wine were whole-cluster pressed and fermented in stainless steel. The cabernet franc was harvested early specifically for use in this rosé, and contributes to the more complex herbal and citrus flavors, according to the winery. Suggested retail price of the wine is $19.50.
The 2018 ASWA Wine Competition issued 72 gold medals, 170 silver medals and 152 Bronze medals.  Competition Chairman Dave Barber says, “A panel of well-qualified independent judges from various levels within the industry, and hailing from several east coast states and from as far afield as San Francisco and Alabama, evaluated red and rosé wines on day one, and whites on day two.” The final round, after scores were tallied for all Best of Category entries, took place Sunday afternoon.
Virginia had the highest number of gold medal winners, with 34 out of the 73. Maryland came in second with 13 golds. Notably, 21 Brix Winery of New York scored 4 out of 8 NY state golds. Showing the wide geographic range of fine wines crafted in the east, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Vermont also produced gold medal winners. “Recognition of these quality wines and education of the general public as to the merits of these hidden jewels are our primary goals,” Barber says.
ASWA hosts an awards ceremony on Capitol Hill every year after the completion of the competition under the auspices of the Congressional Wine Caucus. The perpetual Jefferson Loving Cup, designed by Tiffany in sterling silver, will be engraved with the winning winery’s name and presented to the Best of Show winner.
Winning wines will be showcased at the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium in Sacramento, CA, the leading wine industry conference and trade show typically drawing 15,000 attendees. The wines generally receive coverage on several west coast radio programs while ASWA representatives are in California, and a seminar and tasting at UC Davis is being planned. Opportunities for increased exposure will continue throughout the year. ASWA President Grant Crandall states, “We are excited to have a number of superb wines from the Competition to take around the country to demonstrate that East Coast wines can compete successfully on an international scale.”
The Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association promotes American wine produced in the seventeen eastern states: all those that touch the Atlantic Ocean plus West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Vermont. This trade organization was founded in 1973 as the Vinifera Wine Growers Association, and renamed in 2008 to reflect an expanded regional focus.
ASWA’s mission is to increase awareness of the fine wines of the Atlantic seaboard through trade and consumer education. Members liaise with national, state, and regional wine organizations to identify opportunities to highlight the wines and winemakers working here.