Last month, while clearing out a basement cabinet, I stumbled across an empty bottle of 1978 Stevenot Winery Zinfandel. The old bottle and original label were quick reminders of how the Calaveras County wine industry got it second start and how far back is stretches. It’s hard to believe it has been 40 years since Barden Stevenot, an extremely instrumental figure in the rebirth of the local wine culture with his destination winery, vineyard and tasting room, reignited an industry that today boasts many vineyards and wineries.

This year’s judging of the Professional Wine Show at the Calaveras County Fair took place the last week of April with about two dozen judges from around the state assembling at the Calaveras County Fairgrounds outside Angels Camp. The crew was comprised of individuals from around the wine industry, including winemakers, writers, managers and educators.

Every year the competition yields a number of surprises, and this year it seemed like white wine entries showed better than during years past. For instance, the Chardonnay class with 12 entries had four wines score gold medals. The Best of Show White and Double Gold Medal went to the 2017 Drytown Cellars Pinot Grigio. A Best of Calaveras White, along with a Double Gold medal, went to the 2016 Lavender Ridge 2016 Roussanne, a difficult grape to grow that has its origin in the Rhone Valley of France. Lavender Ridge has pioneered this grape for a number of years in Calaveras County. Double Gold medals are awarded when all four judges on a panel agree on awarding a gold medal to a specific wine. Vintages that earn gold awards or better move on to a second judging to determine the “Best of” winners.

The judging is open to any winery or producer in the seven counties that make up the Sierra foothill appellation. More than 250 commercial wines were entered in 2018.

The Rose category continues to grow and show great success. Nine varietal Roses were entered and four received Gold medals, including the Lavender Ridge 2017 Grenache Rose picking up a Best of Show win. Gold medal winners were the 2017 Chatom Zinfandel, Inner Sanctum Cellars’ Grenache and Hatcher Cinsault Rose entries.

As for the reds, Barbera continues to show strong results, while the Zinfandel class was a bit of a disappointment, according to several judges. A strong class that is getting more and more attention in the foothills is Tempranillo. With nine Tempranillos entered, three received Double Gold status, including the 2015 Ironstone Vineyards, the 2016 Inner Sanctum Cellars “La Mera” and 2016 Convergence.

The other category that made a statement was the Syrah, which captured Best of Show Red and Double Gold with the 2016 Drytown Cellars version from Amador County. The 2015 Le Mulet Rouge and 2016 Convergence, two nearby wineries in Amador County, picked up Golds. The Best Dessert Wine went to Milliaire’s 2012 Clickspring Zinfandel Vintage Port.

The Grand Tasting at 6 p.m. Wednesday lets guests sample the winners. For a complete listing of the results and more information on upcoming events, visit the Calaveras Winegrape Alliance website at calaveraswines.org.

Gold medal winners:

Shenandoah Winery 2017 Sauvignon Blanc

Amador Cellars 2017 Sauvignon Blanc

Ironstone Vineyards 2015 Symphony

Sobon Estate 2017 Viognier

Coppermine Winery 2015 Semillon

Drytown Cellars Gold White Blend

Milliaire Cellars 2017 White Zinfandel

Stevenot 2016 Rose

Sobon Estate 2017 Rose

Runquist Cellars 2016 “Pioneer Hill” Sangiovese

Bianchini Cellars 2013 Barbera

Hatcher Winery 2014 Barbera

Runquist Cellars 2016 “Cooper” Barbera

Le Mulet Rouge 2015 Barbera

Shenandoah Vineyards 2016 Barbera

Drytown Cellars 2016 Mourvedre

Runquist Cellars 2015 Malbec

Ten by Ten Cellars 2015 Malbec

Black Sheep Winery 2014 Cinsault

Black Sheep Winery 2017 Cinsault “Baajolais”

Runquist Cellars 2016 Dolcetto

Runquist Cellars 2016 Charbono

Obscurity Cellars 2015 “Oblivion” Blend

Mineral Wines 2016 “La Calavera” Blend

Black Sheep Winery 2014 Zinfandel “Calaveras”

Hatcher Winery 2014 Zinfandel

Runquist Cellars 2015 Zinfandel “Rocket Fuel”

Runquist Cellars 2016 Zinfandel “Massoni Ranch”

Tanner Wines N/V Meritage “The Pioneer”

Milliaire Cellars 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon

Oakstone Winery 2016 Petite Sirah

Ironstone Winery 2015 Muscat Canelli

Black Sheep Winery 2015 Dessert Wine “Fortissimo”

Coppermine Wines Ruby Port “Nightcap”

Double Gold winners:

Lavender Ridge 2017 Cote Calaveras Blanc

Milliaire Winery 2012 Vintage Port “Zinfandel”

Prospect 772 Cellars 2014 “The Truant” Blend

Cooper Vineyards 2015 “Anniversary” Blend

Ironstone Vineyards 2016 Cabernet Franc “Reserve”

Last month, while clearing out a basement cabinet, I stumbled across an empty bottle of 1978 Stevenot Winery Zinfandel. The old bottle and original label were quick reminders of how the Calaveras County wine industry got it second start and how far back is stretches. It’s hard to believe it has been 40 years since Barden Stevenot, an extremely instrumental figure in the rebirth of the local wine culture with his destination winery, vineyard and tasting room, reignited an industry that today boasts many vineyards and wineries.This year’s judging of the Professional Wine Show at the Calaveras County Fair took place the last week of April with about two dozen judges from around the state assembling at the Calaveras County Fairgrounds outside Angels Camp. The crew was comprised of individuals from around the wine industry, including winemakers, writers, managers and educators.Every year the competition yields a number of surprises, and this year it seemed like white wine entries showed better than during years past. For instance, the Chardonnay class with 12 entries had four wines score gold medals. The Best of Show White and Double Gold Medal went to the 2017 Drytown Cellars Pinot Grigio. A Best of Calaveras White, along with a Double Gold medal, went to the 2016 Lavender Ridge 2016 Roussanne, a difficult grape to grow that has its origin in the Rhone Valley of France. Lavender Ridge has pioneered this grape for a number of years in Calaveras County. Double Gold medals are awarded when all four judges on a panel agree on awarding a gold medal to a specific wine. Vintages that earn gold awards or better move on to a second judging to determine the “Best of” winners.The judging is open to any winery or producer in the seven counties that make up the Sierra foothill appellation. More than 250 commercial wines were entered in 2018.The Rose category continues to grow and show great success. Nine varietal Roses were entered and four received Gold medals, including the Lavender Ridge 2017 Grenache Rose picking up a Best of Show win. Gold medal winners were the 2017 Chatom Zinfandel, Inner Sanctum Cellars’ Grenache and Hatcher Cinsault Rose entries. As for the reds, Barbera continues to show strong results, while the Zinfandel class was a bit of a disappointment, according to several judges. A strong class that is getting more and more attention in the foothills is Tempranillo. With nine Tempranillos entered, three received Double Gold status, including the 2015 Ironstone Vineyards, the 2016 Inner Sanctum Cellars “La Mera” and 2016 Convergence.The other category that made a statement was the Syrah, which captured Best of Show Red and Double Gold with the 2016 Drytown Cellars version from Amador County. The 2015 Le Mulet Rouge and 2016 Convergence, two nearby wineries in Amador County, picked up Golds. The Best Dessert Wine went to Milliaire’s 2012 Clickspring Zinfandel Vintage Port.The Grand Tasting at 6 p.m. Wednesday lets guests sample the winners. For a complete listing of the results and more information on upcoming events, visit the Calaveras Winegrape Alliance website at calaveraswines.org.

Gold medal winners:Shenandoah Winery 2017 Sauvignon BlancAmador Cellars 2017 Sauvignon BlancIronstone Vineyards 2015 SymphonySobon Estate 2017 ViognierCoppermine Winery 2015 SemillonDrytown Cellars Gold White BlendMilliaire Cellars 2017 White ZinfandelStevenot 2016 RoseSobon Estate 2017 RoseRunquist Cellars 2016 “Pioneer Hill” SangioveseBianchini Cellars 2013 BarberaHatcher Winery 2014 BarberaRunquist Cellars 2016 “Cooper” BarberaLe Mulet Rouge 2015 BarberaShenandoah Vineyards 2016 BarberaDrytown Cellars 2016 MourvedreRunquist Cellars 2015 MalbecTen by Ten Cellars 2015 MalbecBlack Sheep Winery 2014 CinsaultBlack Sheep Winery 2017 Cinsault “Baajolais”Runquist Cellars 2016 DolcettoRunquist Cellars 2016 CharbonoObscurity Cellars 2015 “Oblivion” BlendMineral Wines 2016 “La Calavera” BlendBlack Sheep Winery 2014 Zinfandel “Calaveras”Hatcher Winery 2014 ZinfandelRunquist Cellars 2015 Zinfandel “Rocket Fuel”Runquist Cellars 2016 Zinfandel “Massoni Ranch”Tanner Wines N/V Meritage “The Pioneer”Milliaire Cellars 2015 Cabernet SauvignonOakstone Winery 2016 Petite SirahIronstone Winery 2015 Muscat CanelliBlack Sheep Winery 2015 Dessert Wine “Fortissimo”Coppermine Wines Ruby Port “Nightcap”

Double Gold winners:Lavender Ridge 2017 Cote Calaveras BlancMilliaire Winery 2012 Vintage Port “Zinfandel”Prospect 772 Cellars 2014 “The Truant” BlendCooper Vineyards 2015 “Anniversary” BlendIronstone Vineyards 2016 Cabernet Franc “Reserve”

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