The judges sipped and swirled wines for three days, and winners are now known. 562 wineries earned medals at the California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition, held from June 10 to June 12 at Cal Expo.
Gold medal winners included such area wineries as Michael-David Winery, Jeff Runquist Wines and Madrona Vineyards. A database of winners, except for five "best of show" awards, is available soon at www.sacwineregion.com/resources.
The "best of show" wines will be announced on July 9 at Grape & Gourmet, a food and wine festival at the Sacramento Convention Center.
The judging task was enough to test anyone's taste buds. More than 60 judges collectively sampled 20,000 glasses of wine to determine winners.
The competition celebrates California's wine industry, which is worth an estimated $30 billion. 607 wineries from around the state entered more than 2,600 bottles of wine.
Winning an award is about more than just bragging rights. Nabbing a gold medal or other top award can boost a wine's bottom line.
"It's one of those things where it's always good to win, but what (an award) does do is bring people into your tasting room," says Paul Bush, co-owner and winemaker of Madrona Vineyards, an El Dorado County winery that won a gold award for its cabernet sauvignon. "You never quite know how you're going to do. You just make the style of wine you believe in."
Such varietals as petite sirah and sparkling wines showed especially well this year, said chief judge G.M. "Pooch" Pucilowski. Some 300 wineries are expected to pour their winning wines at Grape & Gourmet.
"You can walk anywhere, close your eyes, stick out your wine glass and you're guarnateed to get a medal winning wine," says Pucilowski. "You can't beat it."