Mom and Dad are super excited about attending some wine gala in a few weeks. I took a peek at the invitation and saw that it was for the 2018 Virginia Governor’s Cup. Now you know me and my research – I just couldn’t stand knowing about something but not really knowing, so I put my nose to the ground and started sniffing out the facts.
Apparently, this Governor’s Cup is a wine competition that has happened every year for the past 36 years! It is organized by Jay Youmans of the Capital Wine School in D.C. He is one of only 45 Masters of Wine (MW) in the United States, so he really knows his stuff.
Not only was this a really good year for Virginia wine (99 took gold), but it was a prolific year as well. Over the course of December and January, 442 wines were sampled by carefully selected judges. In order to enter a wine, the fruit used to produce the wine has to be 100% Virginia grown. Documentation has to be provided to prove this and to give other technical aspects of the wine such as acidity and sugar levels. Judges taste wines over the course of two rounds, and wines are scored on appearance, aroma, flavor, overall quality, commercial suitability using the 100 point Wine Spectator scale.
The preliminary round consists of 8 judges and takes place over 10 days. Each of the wines is tasted by 7 judges in a single blind fashion – this means the judge knows the grape or category, but no other identifying information (such as vintage, winery, and name) is given. The scores are averaged after dropping the lowest score, and only the highest scorers proceed to the final round. This year, all preliminary round scores were about 2 points higher than last years. This is a good indicator of it being a great year for Virginia wine.
The final round consists of 12 judges and takes place over 3 days. Each judge samples each wine and scores are averaged in the same way as the previous round and medals are awarded based on the score: gold medals are awarded to those with 90-100 pts, silver to those with 85-89 points, and bronze to 80-84 scorers. The 12 wines that score highest are considered to be in the “Governor’s Cup Case” – wines you are encouraged to buy in order to taste the best of the best of Virginia wine offerings. The highest scoring wine takes home the grand title of Virginia Governor’s Cup winner.
After I became a Winston-sized expert in the Governor’s Cup, it only took laying next to the dinner table to find out why Mom and Dad are really, really excited about attending this year’s gala. Our Viognier was a gold medal winner this year! If you remember, this wine is both Mom and Emma’s favorite. All of us were so happy to hear that the very first wine made for us earned such a high ranking in this year’s Governor Cup. It can only be a sign of many award winning wines to come!