dcvprguy: January 2011 Archives

Being in the wine industry has some really cool perks and this past week was one such occasion.  I was honored to join more than 50 of my industryClick photo to enlarge! colleagues as a professional wine judge at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.   This is the largest wine competition in the U.S. with more than 5,000 wines submitted this year alone - a new record.   For three straight days, we sipped, swirled and yes SPIT, wines in every imaginable category.  Judges from around the country including wine writers, retailers, sommeliers, winemakers, PR people (like me) and industry veterans were chosen to evaluate the entries.

There's a lot to say about the actual judging experience but I want to take a minute to acknowledge the breadth, depth and detail of what goes on behind the scenes to pull off a commercial wine competition of this magnitude.  Held in Click photo to enlarge!Cloverdale, CA at the Citrus Fairgrounds, wines began rolling into Cloverdale in October.  Every single wine is recorded in a computer including retail price, producer, winemaker, technical info, etc.  This, in and of itself, is a massive amount of work all done by a volunteer.  During the competition, a literal army of incredible volunteers makes sure all of the judges needs are met including a full hot breakfast and delicious lunch.  During the competition, more volunteers wheel in flight after flight of wines to us judges as we evaluate and score each wine.  They clean glassware, keep track of our scores and empty spit buckets (not a fun thing to do) all with a smile.  They are an amazing group and the level of detail and professionalism was second to none.  It was a privilege to work with them.

The judging experience itself was fun, interesting, and at times a tad frustrating.   I was on a panel with four other judges.  Each of us brought a unique insight or perspective to the wine industry.  There was a wine writer, a buyer for a large steakhouse, a tasting room Click photo to enlarge!professional as well as an industry veteran of more than 25 years in many different facets of the business.  From early morning to late afternoon, we tasted and evaluated hundreds of wines.  I lost count at 325 wines.  Surprisingly, my palate was able to withstand the beating as I chewed on bread, roast beef and sparkling water to help keep things clean and ready for a new flight of wines. 

Overall, I was extremely impressed with the quality of wines.  From Sauvignon Blancs to Sangioveses, the wines were across the board very good to excellent.  There were some tired not so good wines as well but those were few and far between.  I thought our panel worked very well together.   We were thoughtful, collaborative and fair with the wines we judged and scored.  Ultimately, we sent up several delicious wines for Sweepstakes consideration.  On the last day, all of the judges reconvened to taste through all of the Sweepstake wines in an effort to find the Best of Class white wine and Best of Class red wine.   When the winning wines were revealed, the Best of Class red wine was a wine that our panel had sent up for consideration - it was a 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Paso Robles region.  The producer was Ecluse Winery and the wine was in the $30 to $34.99 price range.  It was a terrific wine and I was glad to see it win considering it came from our panel. 

In tasting all of these wines from around the country, I also came to realize that there is a lot of great wine being made these days.  At Dry Creek Vineyard, we always strive to put the best wine in the bottle possible, and for my taste, I think we do an extraordinarily good job of this.   Our wines are balanced, food friendly and most importantly, taste like the grape (you'd be surprised how many Pinots I tasted that tasted just like Syrah).  With my admittedly California palate, I was surprised to find out that my two favorite wines of the competition came from Washington State -  a Sauvignon Blanc and Primitivo from the Columbia Valley.  It just goes to show that great wine can be made anywhere - as long as there is a passion and commitment to the vineyard and grapes. 

Bill Smart, Director of Communications

| | Comments (2)

About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries written by dcvprguy in January 2011.

dcvprguy: October 2010 is the previous archive.

dcvprguy: June 2011 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.


This is a blog about what it's really like to be in the wine industry...so sit back, take a sip and enjoy!

about me

our wines

our winery

our events

contact me

privacy statement

favorite posts

A Lifetime in Wine

Top 10 Traits of the Successful Family Winery

The Dreaded Family Meeting

Board Meeting Jitters

Is the Future of the Winery in Danger?

The Case of the Overweight Bottle

Wine and Dementia

Wanted: Talented (Normal) Individual for Family Owned Winery

A Sea of Wine

The Heroes of Our Industry

monthly archives


Hopes & Dreams

Owning a Coastal Cottage

Sailing for 6 Months

Getting a 100 Point Score

Favorite Haunts

Coast of Maine

Dry Creek General Store

Dry Creek Kitchen

Healdsburg Bar & Grill


Sonoma Country Antiques

Baci Cafe & Wine Bar

The Farmhouse

Istanbul's Grand Bazaar

Bad Ass Coffee

Bistro Ralph

Bits of Press

Food & Wine Magazine

The Wine News

Wine Enthusiast

Wine Spectator

Press Democrat

Sunset Magazine

Connoisseurs' Guide

Dan Berger's Vintage Experiences

Cruising World Magazine

Oprah Magazine

The Washington Post

Coastal Living Magazine

Wine & Spirits Magazine

People Magazine

SAG Awards Magazine

Forbes Magazine

Favorite Magazines

Coastal Living

Down East


Country Living

Quarterly Review of Wines

Wines & Vines

Wine Spectator

Wine Enthusiast

California Grapevine

Connoisseurs' Guide

Practical Winery & Vineyard


Vineyard & Winery Mgmt

Blog Buddy List


Hip Tastes

Pinot Blogger

All The Best

Julia Flynn Siler


Winery Web Site Report

The Pour - Eric Asimov

Dr Vino

Steve Heimoff

Start Up Ladies

Good Wine Under $20

Blind Muscat

The Wineroad Blog

Gabe's View

Wine Peeps

Vici Vino

Cellarmistress' Cellar Talk

Uncork Life

WineVine-Imports Blog

The Wine Witch


Honorable Mentions

Wilma Hits The World of Blogs
Most Intriguing New Wine Blogs of 2008
Midwest Wine Guy
Winery of the Month
Julia Flynn Siler
Meritage wines - and a fascinating glimpse into family business
Winery Web Site Report
New Winery Blog: Wilma's Wine World
Start Up Ladies
Insider's View of Family Owned Dry Creek Vineyard
The Glue that Keeps the Whole Thing Going
Atlanta Dish
Blog of the Week
Blind Muscat
The Merits of Meritage
Boston Wine Expo exhibitors, and the reason why winemakers are so darn happy