Sometimes reviews of annual events are a little annoying because you have to wait a whole year to get to enjoy it for yourself. But, what’s different about this review is that even if you missed California’s Grape & Gourmet at the Sacramento Convention Center you can still taste all the award winning wines it showcased at the California State Fair starting July 14 (today!) and running through August 1.
So, this is my way of encouraging you to go to the State Fair and visit the wine grotto and taste California’s award-winning wines. I have been doing this for years and can tell you that the selection is vast, the volunteers are so friendly, and you can buy tasty treats to accompany your wine, like brie and fruit plates.
California’s Grape & Gourmet showcased many of the participating wineries in the California State Fair Commerical Wine Competition along with some of the Sacramento region’s best restaurants and food purveyors. There were 700 award-winning California wines, 80 restaurants, breweries, and caterers and 50 award-winning California microbrews.
It was impossible to get around to all the booths, so I had to attempt a plan of attack. I scanned the list for favorite winemakers that had award-winning wines. Here are some highlights:
Frank Family Vinyards (Calistoga) had some prime real estate – right in front of you as you entered. And, I was excited to try their wines, especially because my fellow GOTGers Becky and Julie have often said that Frank Family Chardonnay is their favorite! (In fact, I’d bet it was one of the wines they drank at 58 when they hatched the GOTG idea with Laura.) I tasted 3 of their wines and really like them all, and there was a real surprise in that for me because one of them was a Zinfandel! I generally don’t care for Zin’s because they taste overripe, rotten and honey-like to me. But this one was so balanced and spicy! The other two were Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon – both excellent. I think they got a little ripped off in the award category.
Jeff Runquist Wines (Plymouth) is a favorite foothill winery of mine and my mom’s and stepdad’s and they had won Best Barbera with a Gold and 94 points. This is such a great winery to visit in Plymouth because Jeff is often there himself, and so is his cool wife, Margie, and he makes beautiful and some really unique wines. One of my favorites is Jeff’s Souzao, a Portuguese varietel, but he has sold out! So, I hope he’s making it again. The Barbara was juicy, fruity and light – something I would drink first.
Gloria Ferrer Caves and Vineyards (Sonoma) won Best Sparkling Wine with a Double Gold and 98 points for their Brut Blanc de Blancs. Gloria Ferrer has long been my favorite, go-to sparkling wine so I was excited to get to compare their main 3 wines sip-for-sip. I was pleased to confirm that what I thought was my favorite actually is! I prefer the Blanc de Noirs. I also tasted the Brut Blanc de Blancs and the Brut Rose, and they are all very good.
V. Sattui Winery (St. Helena) was absolutely littered with ribbons! I’ve loved V. Sattui’s wine ever since my friends Kevin and Diane gave me a bottle for Christmas many years ago. V. Sattui won Best of North Coast White with Double Gold and 98 points for their 2009 Anderson Valley White Riesling, Best of Napa White with Double Gold and 98 points for their 2008 Napa Valley Riesling and Best Merlot with Double Gold and 98 points for their 2007 Carneros Merlot. I really enjoyed nearly everything I tasted here – thanks Donn!
And, a shout out to the California Restaurant Association for hosting a booth for which people lined up to spin the wheel for prizes hosted by CRA’s own John Goddard (and former GOTG Most Eligible Bachelor finalist!) doing his best Vana White impression. It was quite the attraction!
For a complete list of the 2010 Award Winners, please visit www.thebestofcaliforniawine.com.