Tuesday, July 19, 2011


A recent press release lauds wines from Amador County grapes:
Wines made from Amador County grapes brought home 25 Gold Medals, including 8 Double Golds and 5 Best of California awards, from the 2011 California State Fair Wine Competition.

 “This year’s 2011 competition should go down as a proud moment for all the wineries in the Sierra Foothills Appellation,” said G.M. “Pooch” Pucilowski, Head Judge of the California State Fair Wine Competition.

 Eight wines from the Amador appellations (including Amador County, Shenandoah Valley, and Fiddletown) brought home Double Gold medals, while another 17 took Gold medals.

 Of 27 Best of California varietal wines, 5 were made from Amador grapes. Amador County grew the best Barbera, Primitivo, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, and Other Red (Touriga).

 Here is another interesting observation.  While Napa earned 23 Gold Medaled red wines, Sonoma earned 19, and South Central Coast (Paso Robles and Santa Barbara) earned 12.  Amador County brought home 25 Gold Medals!

 Less than 1% of the state’s wine grape acreage lies in Amador County. Why the disproportionately strong showing by Amador wines? “Footprints in the vineyard” said Dick Martella, president of the Amador County Wine Grape Growers Association, referring to the fact that Amador County vineyards are mostly small fields tended by their owners.

 Comments from judges reflect the quality of this year’s wine competition entries.  Peter Gamble, Wine Maker and Wine Consultant from Ontario, Canada stated firmly, “In over 25 years of my judging wines from around the world, the greatest single flight of wines I've ever had was at this year's California State Fair; over thirty of fifty wines presented in the regional finals were at the 'spectacular' level. Amazing!”

 The California State Fair Wine Competition has been judging California wines since 1854. This year 2,646 wines were tasted in the traditional blind wine judging method in which wines are sorted by varietal and divided up among the 72 judges. The judges know the type of wine, but they are not told the prices of the wines, the appellation, or the winery.

 Amador County is one of California’s historic grape growing regions and is home to the oldest still-producing Zinfandel vineyards. More recently, Amador County has become known for producing some of the state’s best Italian and Rhone varietals and in June, 2011 nearly 2000 Barbera aficionados converged in Amador for California’s first ever Barbera Festival.

 Fittingly, an Amador County (Fiddletown AVA) wine won Best Zinfandel and an Amador County wine won Best Barbera at the huge 2011 San Francisco International Wine Competition.

 For further information go to amadorwinegrapes.com or call 209-231-4318.


(Barbara Keck is currently writing a book, Mountain High Wines: The Sierra and Its Foothills, which will include stories of pioneering winemakers in Amador County, historical anecdotes, and pairing recipes. Email her at mountainhighwines@gmail.com if you wish to be notified when the book publishes.  It will publish in both e-book and print formats. Barbara is the wine columnist for The Tahoe Weekly newspaper.)

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