Wine Openers: Are some wine awards woth more than others?

This year’s Colorado Governor’s Cup wine competition wound up Aug. 4 with Meadery of the Rockies in Palisade and Bookcliff Vineyards of Boulder sharing Best of Show in their respective divisions.

A Strawberry Honey wine from the meadery won the cider, fruit wine and mead division, while Bookcliff took the traditional grape wine division with its 2013 Ensemble, a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec.

Additionally, Bookcliff and Whitewater Hill Vineyards of Grand Junction both had three wines included in the Governor’s Cup Case, which this year holds 18 bottles instead of the 12 usually found in a case of wine. The other six are ciders, fruit wines and meads. Meadery of the Rockies and Colorado Cellars both have two fruit wines selected for the case.

The complete list of winners can be found on the Colorado Wine Industry Development website at coloradowine.com.

This year’s Governor’s Cup, the only wine competition exclusively for Colorado wines, featured 250 wines from 35 Colorado wineries and continues as a much-awaited display of the state’s steadily improving wine industry.

A viewer might expect, given the state has 140-plus wineries, to see more than one-quarter of those wineries entering the state’s namesake competition.

The reasons for the lack of entrants are several, including some wineries don’t open their email to see the invitation or forget to send their entries on time.

Some wineries enter other competitions and say they can’t afford to enter another contest, although at $25 per entry, Colorado charges only a fraction of that charged by national or international wine contests.

But in truth, some winemakers simply don’t hold the state competition in high esteem.

One winemaker I recently talked to, a talented vigneron who in the past has done quite well at competitions at various levels, has quit entering the state contest.

She said it’s worth more from a marketing standpoint to enter the better-known San Francisco International Wine Competition, the largest in the U.S.

“Why waste the money to get a medal here when I can get a gold or double-gold from San Francisco?” she asked, not expecting an answer.

There are a couple of good reasons why winemakers enter competition. One is to see where they stand in relation to current levels of winemaking, an effort at making sure they “aren’t standing still,” as Parker Carlson once told me.

Another is to see if their taste still is true. One recognized danger facing winemakers is “cellar palate,” which may happen by drinking only one’s own wine and not picking up on incremental changes, usually bad, taking place in your wine.

A badly made wine surely will be noticed, you would think, but what if that’s how your wines taste all the time and you don’t have any comparison?

But perhaps the leading reason to enter competitions is to give customers what they want, and they want bling.

“People like to see medals,” Carlson also said, and every winery you’ll ever visit displays a shelf or two stacked with their collection of ribbons, medallions and trophies.

Who can blame them? Not only is it impressive looking but it also makes great copy for your blog or Facebook page.

However, I doubt most casual tourists — to whom go a majority of Colorado wine sales — have the time, knowledge or eyesight to differentiate between the San Francisco competition, the Eastern International and the Colorado Governor’s Cup.

I’m not saying there aren’t people who know the difference, but there also are people who can tell a Pinot Gris from a Pinot Blanc.

The rest of the story will wait until next time, or you can go to wineopeners.wordpress. com.


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