Local dudes snare wine prizes

Area wineries snared 10 of the 17 Gold Medals awarded in the most recent Virginia Governor’s Cup wine competition. The event, considered the premiere statewide wine contest, was held in early May in Alexandria, but the results were not released until earlier this week.

"There's some good wine to be had out here," says Chad Zakaib, the managing director at Jefferson Vineyards, which is one of just two area wineries to take two golds. The other is Barboursville Winery. Even Dave Matthews and his chief vintner Brad McCarthy scored a gold– for their 2004 "Ox-Eye" Chardonnay.

But wait– the competition's still not over. In a few weeks, one of the 17 gold medal-winning wines will take the actual Governor's Cup. Last year, the overall winner was James River Cellars of Hanover County for its 2004 Dolce Vino, although local favorite Keswick Vineyards won the prize for the best white with its 2003 chardonnay.

So who won this year? "We don't know," answers Zakaib. "Word on the street is that it's a red from this area. There was a big buzz about one red."

Monticello area Gold Medal Recipients:
Barboursville Winery 2002 Malvaxia
Barboursville Winery nv Phileo
Blenheim Vineyards 2004 Ox-Eye Chardonnay
First Colony Winery 2004 Meritage
Horton Vineyards 2001 Tannat
Jefferson Vineyards 2004 Meritage
Jefferson Vineyards 2005 Viognier
Keswick Vineyards 2004 Heritage
Stone Mountain Vineyards 2005 Chardonnay
Wintergreen Winery 2005 Black Rock Chardonnay Reserve


July 25 update: According to a release today, it was Rappahannock Cellars that received the 2006 Governor’s Cup for its 2005 Viognier. Governor Tim Kaine presented the Cup, the highest award in the state for a Virginia wine, to John Delmare of Rappahannock Cellars at the awards ceremony and tasting yesterday at the Tobacco Company in Richmond.

“What a great honor it is to have our wine so highly recognized from among so many worthy wines,” said Rappahannock’s owner, John Delmare. “ We knew from the start that the 2005 Viognier was a very special wine; and it’s a fitting tribute to our dedicated winegrowing team, including winemaker Stephen Barnard. When we moved our winery here from California, we were confident that we could consistently produce world class wines in Virginia”Š this award only serves to reconfirm our beliefs!”

The winery is located about 20 minutes west of Warrenton in Rappahannock County.