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Thursday, March 24, 2022

Governor's Cup Case Showcases Spirit in Virginia's Wine Industry

Wine Dog York awaits reveal of the Virginia's top wine
Main Street Station
Richmond, Virginia
"There is a spirit in our wine industry, a very special spirit,"  said Governor Glenn Youngkin as he revealed the winner of the 2022 Virginia Governor's Cup competition. The Commonwealth is currently home to 315 wineries, and has claimed its place as one of the top producers in the country - and in the world - as is evident from the quality of the 12 wines comprising this year's Governor's Cup Case.

The 2022 case stands out as one of the most balanced in the competition's history - both in the variety of wines and the wine-producing regions represented. 

A few observations about this year's competition:

Women Winemakers Take Their Place
Three of the wines in this year's Governor's Cup Case were crafted by women winemakers, including the top dog, Cana's 2019 Unite' Reserve, produced by Melanie Natoli, who aptly observed that two years ago, there were no women standing among the makers of Virginia's top 12 wines. 

Regional Variety
Six wines from the Monticello AVA found a home in this year's case, which should bring a smile to Mr. Jefferson's face. But the Middleburg AVA is top dog and claims two additional spots in the case. Loudoun and the Shenandoah Valley also are represented.

White Wines Finish Strong
While whites have struggled in past years to make the cut, this year's case features a diverse and refreshing mix of  white varietals, including Chardonnay, Vermentino, AlbariƱo, a sparkling and a dessert wine.

Blending Rounds Out the Reds
All seven of the reds in this year's case are Meritage-style blends, although the dominant grape varies. 

2019 Delivering on Its Promise
Even though the wines are still young, 2019 is clearly delivering on its promise to be a great year for Virginia wine. Half the case is comprised of 2019 red blends, including a Petit Verdot-dominant blend from Wisdom Oak Winery named simply Nineteen. 

Jay Smith of Wisdom Oak Winery which pays homage to an excellent year with its Nineteen blend.

Not only did Cana Vineyards and Winery win the Governor's Cup for the 2019 Unite' Reserve, but Cana is the only winery to claim two spots in the case with their 2019 Le Mariage. And Tasting Room Manager Alison was quick to point out Cana is for Canines, offering a very dog-friendly environment.

Winemaker Jason Burrus helped 50 West Vineyards win a spot in the case with the closest thing to a Cab Franc in the winners' circle. The 2019 Ashby Gap is 75 percent Cab Franc and 25 percent Cab Sauv, with grapes coming from the Middleburg and Shenandoah Valley AVAs.

The Governor's Cup Case would not be complete without a wine from Barboursville Vineyards. This year's representative is a very refreshing 2020 Vermentino Reserve, the youngest wine in the case, displayed by the Palladio's Somm Alessandro Medici. Barboursville brought home a total of four golds from the competition.

A second refreshing white in the case is the 2020 AlbariƱo from Maggie Mallick Wine Caves, which also picked up a gold for Maggie's Tempranillo. Tasting Room Manager Krista confirms dogs are welcome at Maggie Mallick, which hosts DockDog events at their pond.

Michael Shaps may not be big on having his picture taken with Wine Dogs, but he sure knows how to rake in the gold. Seven golds in this year's competition for Micahel Shaps Wineworks, including the 2019 Chardonnay which made the case. An additional two golds for his Shenandoah Vineyards wines, with the 2019 Reserve Red making the case, shown here by Cellar Master Jason Greer. Magnificent nose - the Wine Dogs give it two paws up.

Pollak Vineyards won four golds in this year's competition, with a spot in the case going to the 2017 Meritage (60 percent Cab Franc). Winemaker Benoit Pineau says 2019 produced fruit so dry and concentrated, he couldn't even make Rose'.  Earned a gold next year and should mature beautifully.

The good folks at Rockbridge Vineyard are real dog lovers as well as wine lovers. While owner Jane Rouse gave York a hug, John explained how they brought two big dog beds into the tasting room for guest dogs. Rockbridge won two golds this year, with the 2018 V D'Or (a dessert wine) claiming a spot in the case. 

The winemaking team of Nathan Vrooman and Rachel Stinson at Stinson Vineyards produced a case-worthy wine with their 2017 Meritage. Love the label which features daughter Wells, also a 2017 vintage.

Cheers to Trump Winery, a top producer of sparkling wine. Winemaker Jonathan Wheeler produced another case-winner with the 2015 Brut Reserve and took home four golds in the 2022 competition.

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