Jeff’s Corner 1-18-17

Howdy, Howdy, Howdy, and Howdy!

The extra “Howdy” is for being back in Texas after a week in Sonoma judging the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. (You know you’re in Northern California when your two favorite food servers are named “Sequoia” and “Hindu”). Kathy and I had a blast (I’ll share some cool info about the competition in a moment), but first things first.

Grape Creek wines flat tore it up! We garnered 17 medals at what is one of the most prestigious wine events in the country. Every wine we sent medaled, including Double Golds for our Viognier, Cuvee Blanc, and Merlot. Riesling, Petite Sirah, and Mosaic reeled in Gold, while our Cabernet Trois, Cabernet/Syrah, Serendipity, Rendezvous, Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Blanc, and Muscat Canelli earned Silver. Grand Rouge, Bellissimo, Port, and our Rose of Sangiovese came home with a Bronze.

The SFCWC is the largest all American wine competition in the country. 7000 wines (from 28 states) were broken down into over 100 categories. The categories are based on varietals (Zinfandels, e.g. ) or styles (Cabernet dominated blends blends, e.g.). Large categories are further divided by price, such as Pinot Noir from $28.00-$31.99.

Grading is simple. A wine scores no medal, or a bronze, silver, or gold. If a wine scores a gold from all 3 judges on the panel, it becomes a double gold. Judges can change their scores based on panel discussion. At the end of each category, wines that won gold and double gold are revisited, and only one is chosen “Best in Class” for that flight.

Judging is fast-paced and demands focus. Tuesday I scored 87 Chardonnays and 35 Syrah dominate blends. Wednesday, 81 “other red varietals” (this was hard because we might see a Pinotage next to a Gamay), and 20 high-end Zins. Thursday started with 40 Brut sparkling wines, and feeling pretty good, we finished with 73 Pinot Noirs. That’s 336 wines in 3 days. Holy Guacamole!

Friday was the Sweepstakes round, when the best wine is chosen from each of 5 separate categories; sparkling, white, rose, red, and dessert/fortified. I had 73 numbered glasses of wine in front of me; and I was terrified knowing that with one slip I could take them all out…

So, if you want to check out lots more cool stuff regarding the SFCWC, medal winners, photos, history, etc visit Lots more to come on Jeff’s Corner about this great event, plus my time with a California wine legend.

Tonight, Wednesday 1-18, is our annual staff appreciation night. Brian and Jennifer are spoiling us rotten on the River Walk in San Antonio. Stay tuned for much more about this next week.