Posts Filed Under wine industry events
A quick update about wine competition judging…
while I’m on the road, coincidentally, heading out to judge at the 2020 McMinnville Wine & Food Classic Wine Competition! [ Editor’s update: Unfortunately, I had to bail due to a heinous stomach bug :-( ]
My latest piece for the Napa Valley Wine Academy is now live, titled So You Want To Be a Wine Judge? (An Insider’s View of Wine Competitions), in which I discuss what happens behind the scenes at a major wine comp. (short version: a lot more than you think, and with a lot less drinking than you might at first imagine).
In this case, I use the San Fransisco International Wine Competition as a model, given that a) I’d just come off from judging at the 2019 incarnation, and b) it’s one of the best such-run events in the USA, if not globally.
It’s a read for the curious, especially the self-righteous types who think that wine comps are all bullsh*t and/or feel that they could judge/run such an event better than, say, the SFIWC or Critics Challenge staff (short version: no, you can’t).
Presumably because its polite residents haven’t yet learned their lesson, I’ve been invited back to Oregon to help judge the 2020 McMinnville Wine & Food Classic Wine Competition, to be held January 11. It’s been the better part of eighteen months since I’ve had my boots on the ground in that fine state, so I’m looking forward to returning, and I am totally welcoming the opportunity to announce that fact, and especially to further delaying sorting through my travel notes and photos to bring you coverage of my recent(-ish) times in Austria and Sicily, because, well, that’s like work and stuff…
This is a new venture for me, and I’ll be a part of nine new judges in 2020, who in turn will be joining a returning roster of a further nine judges, including other writers, educators, sommeliers, buyers, and PR mavens. I’m grateful to call several in both of those camps as colleagues and friends already, and so I welcome – and will take – the further opportunity now to apologize to the town of McMinnville for whatever disruption we cause when we’re all reunited in the same location that week (sorry!).
There’s more to come, of course, after the event, For now – the whole shebang benefits a 501c3 nonprofit supporting children’s education at St. James School, so I’d encourage you to buy up some event tickets (if you’re local), or donate (if you’re not).
This year I once again had the honor of judging alongside several of my wine biz cohorts at what has become one of my favorite weekends all year: the San Francisco International Wine Competition, held at the swanky and suave Hotel Nikko in downtown SF. The 2019 SFIWC incarnation took place November 9th through November 11th, and is now in its 39th year – an impressive testament in any industry, and probably even more so in the wine business.
Wine Comp Judging: absolutely serious business
The results of the 2019 competition are now available, and so I can share some thoughts on the big-big Best-in-Show winners. These are wines that have to make it through 1) achieving a unanimous Double Gold award from a panel of three to four seasoned competition judges; 2) selection to be sent to the sweepstakes round by that same panel; 3) surviving a super-panel tasting (consisting of the competition’s chief judges); and, finally 4) receive a plurality of votes from all judges in the final Sweepstakes rounds for its class/category, and then, ultimately for its Best-in-Show category. All tasted blind, of course, which always yields some interesting surprises (I’m looking at you, Virginia; well done!).
So… these wines are no slouches, and are well worth your time seeking out if you’re in the splurging mood, and quality is on your mind…
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In the words of Iron Man, “I’ve missed that giddy optimism.”
In this case, the Steve Rogers yang to my Tony Stark ying is Emetry CEO Paul Mabray. I’ve been fortunate enough to call Paul a friend for several years running, and not just because I dig on his penchant for Star Wars-related references in his slide decks; Paul is wicked smart, and we have long shared the view that wine is well into its most competitive market in the entire history of the product (for a real noodle-baker, just consider how long we’ve had that product…!).
Mabray delivered a speech at the recent MUST – Fermenting Ideas Wine Summit in Portugal, in which he discussed the “future-proofing” of wine marketing in general. You can access the whole-shebang of Paul’s slide deck, and/or rely on the very good write-up summary of Maybray’s speech over at The Buyer. I found both to be essential reading for wine marketing/branding/producing types. When discussing the write-up with Paul on Facebook, he remarked to me that “the message is starting to resonate. Now for the next phase, action.”
And that’s where the giddy optimism quote comes in, because this is one of the rare instances where Paul and I happen to disagree…
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