The major winners at this year's California State Fair wine competition won't be announced formally until July 12, but wineries are being notified of their awards and the results include some surprises.
For one, the best chardonnay in the state - selected from a field of 351 candidates - is the Charles Shaw Winery 2005 California Chardonnay, which sells for $1.99 a bottle at Trader Joe's stores.
For another, the best cabernet sauvignon in the state, chosen from a field of 398 candidates, the largest class in the judging, sells for just $10. It's the Five Rivers Winery 2005 Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon.
Both wines should be easy to find. Charles Shaw, a brand of Bronco Wine Co. of Ceres, sells 5 million cases of wine a year, at least a third of which likely is chardonnay, though company officials won't reveal specific figures for its varietals. Nearly 143,000 gallons of the Five Rivers cabernet sauvignon were made.
Local wineries that scored well in the varietal and style awards were Wilderotter Vineyard of Plymouth for its 2005 Amador County Barbera ($26), best barbera in the state; Michael-David Winery of Lodi for its 2005 Lodi Incognito ($20), which tied with the Hop Kiln Winery 2005 California Syrah/Grenache ($22) for best Rhone-style wine; and Ursa Vineyards of Camino in El Dorado County for its 2004 California Petite Sirah ($16), which tied with Guenoc Winery 2005 Lake County Petite Sirah ($16) for best petite sirah.
The State Fair also divides California into 11 regions and chooses a best red wine and best white wine for each. Local wines to be declared best of region were the Bogle Vineyards 2006 Clarksburg Muscato ($18), Cooper Vineyards 2006 Amador County Sauvignon Blanc ($15), Jeff Runquist Wines 2005 Clarksburg Salmon Vineyard Petite Sirah ($26), Michael-David Winery 2006 Lodi "7 Heavenly" Chardonnay ($17), Peltier Station 2005 Lodi Petite Sirah ($18), and Wilderotter Vineyard 2005 Amador County Barbera ($26).
The State Fair's best-of-show red and best-of-show white, to be announced July 12, are chosen from among the regional winners.