News and Information
News and Information
Behind the Scenes at the Winemasters Choice Awards
Each spring, the Maryland Wineries Association invites local wineries to submit bottles of their wines to a competition called The Winemasters Choice Awards. This competition is similar in format to Maryland’s original wine competition, The Governor’s Cup, which is judged by members of the wine trade. The Winemasters Choice Awards has one major difference––the judges are actually Maryland winemakers!
The judging is blind, meaning that the winemaker judges don’t know which wines they’re trying at any one time. This gathering allows winemakers to taste their wines alongside their competition, all in the spirit of selecting the best of the best.
The wines are divided up into groups, called flights, based on certain qualifiers like grape variety, amount of residual sugar and style. The judges are broken up into panels. The wine flights are delivered to the panels and are evaluated for color or appearance, smell, otherwise known as the nose, and taste. The wines’ taste is evaluated for its body, balance and finish. All of these contributing factors help the judges determine a score for each of the wines. The judges don’t know very much about the wines in front of them–– only the grapes or fruit that they are made from, and how much residual sugar, if any, is in the wines.
After a long day of judging, nine wines were named “Best in Class.” Two of those wines were submitted by one of the state’s newest wineries, Costa Ventosa, located in Whaleyville, Worcester County. Their winning wines included Puckum Pinot Grigio, as “Best in Class: White.” This wine was named after an area in Dorchester County. The Riddle Farm Riesling won “Best in Class: Sweet.” This wine is named after a former equine training facility near Ocean City, where racehorse “Man O’ War” trained. Costa Ventosa won another gold medal for their Diana’s Delight.
The winner of the “Best in Class: White Blend” is a wine called Rockfish from Baltimore County’s Boordy Vineyards. This wine is a blend of Seyval, Chardonnay and Vidal Blanc. The Best in Class: Red is a 2010 Chambourcin made by Port of Leonardtown Winery, the only co-op winery in the state.
Sweet wines, dessert wines and meads also made their place at this competition. The “Best in Class: Off-Dry” wine is called Danny Boy, by Slack winery and is made from Petit Manseng, and the winemakers recommend drinking it with dessert. The “Best in Class: Dessert” wine is called Meadow Breeze, made by new winery Detour Vineyard & Winery. This wine is made of Catawba grapes.
The “Best in Class: Mead” of the day is called Amber and is made by Orchid Cellar, of Frederick County. Great Shoals Winery won “Best Cider-Style Wine” for their Bosc & Bartlett Hard Pear.
At the end of the judging, the nine Best in Class wines were tasted against each other, and a “Best in Show” was selected! The 2012 Winemasters Choice Competition “Best in Show” wine was Knob Hall Winery Prestige, also named “Best in Class: Red Blend.” Prestige is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Chambourcin.
You can try many of these wines at our upcoming events and festivals, or by visiting the wineries.