Jeff’s Corner 1-25-19

Howdy, Howdy

Today I want to share a day in the life at the SFCWC (San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition), but first, I want to thank Kathy, the staff at GCV, and those of you who follow Jeff’s Corner for all the fantastic support and accolades you’ve thrown my way. I’m one super-lucky dude.

The competition kicked off Tuesday morning with a Judges’ Reception and Champagne breakfast from 8 to 8:45. This is tons of fun, seeing old friends and meeting new ones. I felt like an old-timer this year, even though many judges had decades more experience.

At 8:45, it got serious. Bob Fraser, the Executive Director of the competition, got up to speak, and when Bob speaks, we listen. The very first thing he did was dedicate the competition to Dr. Kent Rosenblum, the legendary “King of Zin” who passed away earlier this year. (See Jeff’s Corner 9-17-18). I was fortunate to develop a meaningful relationship with Kent; he was a warm, endearing, and extremely kind man.

Next, one by one, Bob introduced all 64 judges with hand waving, enthusiastic stories about each of us, and then our judging panels were assigned. This is pretty much like the Sorting Hat in Harry Potter; my name was called with two others for panel #9, and I spent the next three days with two fascinating folks judging about 375 wines.

Day 1 we started with 30 Rieslings over 2% residual sugar, followed by 27 Syrah dominate blends priced up to $24.99, then 45 Zinfandel dominate blends up to $24.99, ending with 18 ciders. The ciders were really interesting, they had varying percentages of apple varietals (57% Honey Crisp eg) in the blends, just like grapes in wine.

Day 2 began with 52 Chardonnays from $18.00-$19.99, followed by 13 Aglianicos, and ending with 50 Petite Sirahs $39.00 and up. This was my dream flight, it was the attack of the tannic monsters with 9 Double Golds and a best of class round that was near impossible to judge.

Day 3 started like breakfast, with 15 Gewurtztraminers over $20.00, then 45 Pinot Noirs from $28.00-$31.99, and ending with 51 Cabernet Sauvignons from $27.00-$29.99. This last flight of Cabs was really impressive, with some outstanding wines at a great price point.

You can check out all the medal winners, by category or producer, at

And, as you probably know, Grape Creek wines did really well, with Bellissimo, Prosperity, and Cabernet Blanc reeling in Golds, while our Cuvee Blanc won Double Gold and Best of Class. Here’s what wine sage Mike Dunne had to say about this lovely wine, “Build a weir on that creek and divert more of this fragrant, minerally and crisp wine into my glass, please.”