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The Press Deck - 11/13/2019 | Field Notes: Competitions have been good for the New York State wine industry.

Field Notes...

From Paul Brady, Brand Ambassador

Dear Friends,

Competitions have been good for the New York State wine industry.

The oldest American wine competition is the California State Fair, during which in 1950, the only gold medal awarded was to a New York wine -- Charles Fournier’s Gold Seal Blanc de Blancs. (Alas, it was the last year that entries from outside the state of California were allowed, I’m told.) Early on as a younger aspiring sommelier, I read Evan Dawson’s book “Summer In A Glass,” which chronicled biographical profiles of Finger Lakes wineries, and part of that narrative included the NYWGF’s Classic Competition. I was already hugely interested in the Finger Lakes and New York wines in general, so I myself kept up with the competition.

Last year, only one New York City sommelier reached out to me to ask about the winners, and that sommelier was Paul Grieco, a mentor to many and one who has been championing New York wines for well over a decade. Paul took the New York City restaurant scene by storm in 1991; ergo, he’s no spring chicken, and it’s no secret that competitions and point scores have fallen out of favor with many of the younger Gen Xers and Millennial wine professionals.

But this year was different.

A young sommelier did reach out asking about the competition results. That sommelier was Brooks Fraser, who is the Beverage Director at Craft, Chef Tom Colicchio’s flagship restaurant, and also an upstate New Yorker from the Adirondack region. One of the reasons she reached out is because she had been a judge in the competition the previous year. This is a great way to keep the competition fresh -- by making sure to maintain a diverse group of judges, introducing some amount of new and young blood to the competition each year, and keeping some from the New York City trade in that circle.

I want to applaud our Executive team for giving us the resources to continue to promote the competition well after its completion -- we’ve executed multiple dinners all over the state featuring the best-of-category wines. My colleague Julie Purpura Hosbach, our Education & Member Services Manager, has produced and overseen sold-out Classic pairing dinners at restaurants in Utica, Clayton, and New York City. Last week, we celebrated gold medal winners from Long Island at Red Hook Winery in Brooklyn and will continue into January with such events, including pairing dinners in Long Island and Albany. The event in Red Hook was attended by no less than 14 influential editorial contributors from publications such as Travel & Leisure, Essence, TripSavvy; as well as winery representatives and other close colleagues of the NYWGF.

To those new to the wine buying side of the trade, competition medals can be seen a bit like numerical ratings in the print and online wine journals, as wine writer Lettie Teague pointed out in the Wall Street Journal, “They won’t be ‘duped’ into buying an expensive wine just because some critic awarded it 92 points; they value stories and a personal connection.”

A personal connection is exactly what Brooks Fraser made around the competition:

“By including newer buyers and sommeliers in the competition process, you can promote the inclusion of their opinions and feedback while they gain a further understanding as to why these competitions are still relevant and useful,” she wrote me. “And especially so for the focused, regional events like the Classic, which produce sales, recognition, and exposure in a big way in the surrounding regions.”

It’s that information that is not, at the moment, ubiquitous in the heads of the younger trade -- how there’s that buzz of friendly competition in the air around the week of the Classic; how many different areas of the trade come together to judge and volunteer; how important the results are to the ecosystems of the grape growing regions. But we’ve now seen that we can effectively change that for the better.

Heartfelt thanks again to all those who were a part of making the competition happen this year, to those who have attended and celebrated with us, and to everyone who will help us keep up that intensity in 2020.


Paul Brady,
Brand Ambassador
New York Wine & Grape Foundation

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Competition News...

San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition Accepting Entries!

Over 60 prestigious experts within the media, trade, hospitality and education industries from around the country join together to judge these wines each year and because of their diligence the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition continues to hold the title of the largest competition of American Wines in the World, with over 7,000 entries. In addition, New York wines have traditionally shined: last year Swedish Hill Brut Rose of Pinot Noir took Best Sparkling Wine, Dr. Frank has won Best White Wine at least once, and Keuka Spring twice, for both Gewurztraminer and Riesling. Read more.

AWS 2019 Commercial Wine Competition Results

The American Wine Society competition for commercial wine, which now includes spirits, has been held annually since the 1986 National Conference. Today, the competition requires year-long preparation, dedicated volunteers, and a refined system of computers and human resources to handle operational details.

Judges are selected from a broad spectrum of wine industry professionals, including marketers, writers and wine makers. A significant number of judges for each competition are also chosen from among graduates of the AWS’s own rigorous and well regarded Wine Judge Certification Program. All wines are judged blind and by panel consensus.

Congratulations to these gold medal and 'Best of Class' winners! (Click here for full list of 2019 results.)

  • 21 Brix Winery, Apple (Double Gold, 95)
  • 21 Brix Winery, Raspberry (Double Gold, 95)
  • Black Willow Winery, Odin's Nectar (Double Gold, 93)
  • Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery, 2017 Margrit Dry Riesling (Gold, 93)
  • Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery, Celebre Rose (Gold, 93)
  • Glenora Wine Cellars, 2013 Brut (Gold, 94)
  • Glenora Wine Cellars, 2018 Reserve Semi-Dry Riesling (Double Gold, 93, Best White Vinifera)
  • Glenora Wine Cellars, 2018 Seyval Blanc (Best Seyval Blanc)
  • Lakewood Vineyards, 2018 Valvin Muscat (Double Gold, 94)
  • Lakewood Vineyards, 2018 Dry Riesling (Gold, 93)
  • Wagner Vineyards, 2017 Dry Riesling (Double Gold, 93)
  • Tasters Guild 2019 Consumers' Wine Judging Results

The Tasters Guild continues to promote the enjoyment of wine, food, and travel.

As of June of 2017, the Tasters Guild members and chapters combined with the American Wine Society, the oldest and largest organization of wine consumers in the United States.

Congratulations to these gold medal winners! (Click here for full list of 2019 results.)

  • Belhurst Estate, 2017 Cabernet Franc (Gold)
  • Belhurst Estate, 2016 Pinot Noir (Gold)
  • Belhurst Estate, 2018 Riesling-Dry (Gold)
  • Honeymoon Trail Winery, 2017 Blueberry (Gold)
  • Honeymoon Trail Winery, 2018 Chocolate Cherry (Double Gold)
  • Lakewood Vineyards, 2018 Borealis (Double Gold)
  • Lakewood Vineyards, 2018 Riesling, 3 Generations (Gold)
  • Lakewood Vineyards, 2018 Riesling, Full Monty (Double Gold)
  • Lakewood Vineyards, 2018 Valvin Muscat (Double Gold)
  • Lakewood Vineyards, 2018 Vignoles (Double Gold)
  • Victorianbourg Wine Estate, 2018 Uvalina (Gold)