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Tuesday, February 25, 2020

2020 Governor's Cup: Blending is Golden in the Grape Dominion

Main Street Station
Richmond, Virginia

With more than 300 wineries and 537 vineyards growing over 400 acres of grapes, Virginia has truly become the Grape Dominion. To help shine a spotlight on the top dogs in the industry, Virginia’s Governor’s Cup Competition assembles a distinguished panel of judges under the direction of Master of Wine Jay Youmans.

The winners this year give credit to the maturing quality of Virginia wine. A Wine Dogs “paws up” to each of the 10 wineries whose 12 wines were judged the best in Virginia and make up the Governor's Cup Case.

A few observations from this year’s case.

It’s all about blending. Half the case is comprised of red blends for the second year in a row. The case also includes a Tannat, a Cabernet Franc, and a Petit Verdot.

868 Estate’s Passito is a trend-setter. The first hybrid grape (Vidal Blanc) to win the competition; the first Governor’s Cup wine made from 100 percent Loudoun County grapes; and the first dessert wine to win in 15 years. It is complimented in the case by a second Vidal-Blanc based dessert wine  and a Vermentino.
868 Estate Winery's trendsetters Carl and Delisa DIManno bask in the glory of the evening. 
Although still dominant with seven spots in the case, regions outside the Monticello AVA are asserting themselves. Loudoun is Top Dog, and the case includes a healthy blend of wine from Northern Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley.

If you are looking to sample Virginia's finest, follow the Wine Dogs' lead and put these on your list.

Afton Mountain Vineyards blends beuatiful views with beautiful wines. The 2017 Tradition is a classic Bordeaux-style blend of Merlot (41%), Petit Verdot (37%) and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Afton Mountain's Jill Schildkamp invites the Virginia Wine Dog team to visit Afton Mountain's pet friendly vineyard cottages.
Barboursville Vineyards earned three golds this year, claiming two spots in the case with the refreshing 2018 Vermentino Reserve (a double gold winner in the San Francisco Chronicle competition) and the 2014 Octagon.
Barbourseville winemaker Luca Paschina treats York to a taste of the 2014 Octagon, making a repeat appearance as a Governor's Cup gold medal winner. 
Another winery with a spectacular view, Delaplane Cellars struck gold with the 2017 Williams Gap, a bold red blend created by winemaker Rick Tagg.
Lisa Christopher, Guest Experience Manager at Delaplane Cellars, tells York about changes with the new management, including a second venue for events.
Wow! Lake Anna Winery's 2017 Tannat is earned two paws up and a wagging tail from Wine Dog York. This 100% varietal from Spotsylvania County made the Governor's Cup with two other Lake Anna wines (Chardonnay and Petit Verdot) earning gold.
Doug Boardway and Trish Lambert were all smiles pouring liquid gold for the Lake Anna team.
Winemaker Michael Shaps continues to rack up the golds in the Govenror's Cup competition. The winemaker extraordinaire made the case with his 2016 Meritage. The 2017 Meritage also won gold, as did six others under the Michael Shaps label plus six wines he crafted under the Virignia Cellars label. The 2017 Shenandoah Reserve Red, from Shenandoah Vineyards, also secured a spot in the case for Shaps, who took over stewardship of Virginia's second oldest winery in 2018.
The team lines up to pour Michael Shaps wines: Jason Greer (Cellar Master), Robin Hurst (Assistant Winemaker), Kevin, and Jason Greer (Associate Winemaker, Shenandoah Vineyards).
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards, where Michael Shaps is also the winemaker, claimed three golds and earned a spot in the case for its 2014 Petit Verdot. Check out #PippinPups.
It's clear Dave Kamierski and Carolyn Fifer have been pouring quite a bit of Pippin Hill's Petit Verdot.
Pollak Vineyards hauled in a total of five golds in the competition, earning spots in the case for the 2017 Cabernet Franc Reserve and 2017 Smuggler (a red blend). 
The Wine Dogs are good smugglers, but Pollak's Smuggler is exceptional, York tells Aaron Spring.
Completing the case is Rockbridge Vineyard's 2017 Vd'Or, a truly golden wine combining Vidal Blanc, Vignoles, and Traminette pressed from frozen grapes.
Rockbridge's VD'Or is a regular in wine copetitions and earned the Governor's Cup in 1995.

How Sweet It Is: Dessert Wine Wins 2020 Governor's Cup

Main Street Station
Richmond, Virginia

For the first ime in 15 years, a dessert wine claimed the coveted Virginia Governor's Cup. At the 2020 Governor's Cup Celebration, 868 Estate Vineyards in Purcellville won "Best in Show" honors for the 2017 Vidal Blanc Passito, beating out more than 530 wines.

And for the first time, Loudoun County can claim to be first in grapes. The award-winning wine is made from from 100 percent Loudoun County fruit. The Monticello AVA has dominated past competitions; The Barns at Hamilton Station won the 2017 Governor's Cup; but with grapes from the Charlotttesville area.

Gov. Ralph Northam presents 2020 Governor's Cup to the 868 Estate Vineyard Team
Virginia Wine Dog York was on the scene to report, and caught up with an ebullient Carl DiManno. The co-founder and winemaker at 868 Estate Vineyards called the 2017 Passito the culmination of a labor of love. "A lot of love and hard work went into this wine, but it was well worth it," adding "I am thrilled that Loudoun’s wines are getting the recognition that they deserve.”

Three other pillars of the Virginia wine industry also were honored at the Governor's Cup Celebration:

Justin Rose of Rosemont Winery, was named Virginia Wine Person of the Year

Randy Phillips, general manager of Cave Ridge Vineyard won the Gordon Murchie Lifetime Achievement Award
George Hodson of Veritas Vineyards was named the David King Wine Advocate of the Year
All 64 Gold Medal wines from the competition were showcased at the Celebration, with special recognition given to the top 12 (including the 868 Estates Passito), which will comprise this year's Governor's Cup Case. Read about them here.

Virginia Loves Carl DiManno's Passito  

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