February and March are usually quiet time in a winery. The wine from the previous year's harvest is aging and winemakers existence is primarily about caring and feeding last year's vintage. That makes this time of the year the perfect time for award ceremonies. The two big ones in Virginia are the Governor's Cup and the Virginia Vineyards Association Grower of the Year.
The first award, The Virginia Vineyards Association Grower of the Year went to Len Thompson of Amherst Vineyards. Len has been growing vines in Virginia since 1989 and has won many accolades for the wines produced from his grapes. From the announcement:
"Len Thompson is one of the unheralded heroes behind the success of the Virginia Vineyards Association. For as long as I can remember he has donated freely of his time to support the association and the wine industry. He helps other growers and aspiring growers while producing grapes that have been utilized in wines that have won awards in international competitions," said J. Rock Stephens, chairman, Virginia Wine Board.
An independent grower, Thompson has been an extremely active member of the VVA for over a decade. He has served in many capacities at the VVA, including two terms as vice president, two terms as treasurer, one term as secretary and a term as communications chair. Retiredfrom the VVA board, Thompson, who is also an employee of Rockbridge Vineyards,continues to serve the wine industry as aboard member of the Virginia WineriesAssociation - he is currently serving as vice president.
Also in February, Governor McDonnell Announced the Governor's Cup award winners. Topping the list was Barboursville Vineyards 2009 Octagon 12th Edition. The 2009 Octagon really displays the strength Virginia shows when it comes to blended wines. The well-deserved award marks the 4th time Barboursville has won the Governor's Cup, more than any other winery in the state. From the announcement:
Speaking at the Governor’s Cup awards, Governor McDonnell said, “I congratulate Luca Paschina, the Zonin family, and the entire Barboursville team for winning this year’s Governor’s Cup for their 2009 Octagon, one of Virginia’s most iconic red wines. Luca’s Octagon wines are personal favorites of mine, and I know this award winning 12th Edition will make the Virginia wine industry proud now and in the years to come. I also commend the winemakers of the other distinguished wines that comprise this year’s Governor’s Cup Case. I am confident that wine aficionados and enthusiasts alike will take notice of Octagon and the other impressive offerings in this case. The advancements in Virginia winemaking are on display in every bottle we have here tonight and the stringent requirements of the Governor’s Cup competition ensure that Virginia wines receiving medals have been through the most demanding evaluation process."
Barboursville’s award-winning Octagon is a Meritage-style blend of the winery’s best Bordeaux varietals. The wine is made only in top vintage years. The 2009 vintage is comprised of 70% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 10% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine’s tasting notes are as follows: It has a deep garnet color, with aromas of chocolate, red berries, cranberries, gaining further depth with tar, spice and a touch of forest floor. Dry yet somewhat fruity, medium to full body with a long finish of tannins. A wonderfully structured old world style red blend.
Rounding out the Governor’s Cup Case were:
- Cooper Vineyards – 2010 Petite Verdot Reserve
- King Family Vineyards – 2010 Meritage
- Lovingston Winery – 2009 Josie’s Knoll Estate Reserve (Meritage)
- Philip Carter Winery – 2010 Cleve (Petite Verdot, Tannat)
- Pollak Vineyards – 2009 Cabernet Franc Reserve
- Potomac Point Vineyard and Winery – 2010 Richland Reserve Heritage (Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat, Petite Verdot
- Rappahannock Cellars – 2010 Meritage
- RdV Vineyards – 2010 Rendevous (Meritage)
- RdV Vineyards – 2010 Lost Mountain (Meritage)
- Sunset Hills Vineyard – 2010 Mosaic (Meriage)
- Trump Winery – 2008 Sparkling Rose (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir)
I was a little disappointed to see Loudoun County so under-represented, especially given how strong the 2010 vintage was in the region. That being said these are almost all great contenders, and congratulations to the winners!
In addition to the Governor's Cup winners, Lew Parker, owner of Willowcroft Winery, was given the Gordon Murchie Lifetime Achievement award:
Parker has devoted extensive personal time as an active proponent of the growth and vitality of the Virginia wine industry. He has addressed legislative issues, such as direct shipping; and provided leadership on many levels, serving as a past president and treasurer of the Virginia Wineries Association, a member of the Virginia Winegrowers Advisory Board, and founding member of the Loudoun Wineries Association. He has served Virginia’s interest at the national level as a member of the Executive Committee and Treasurer of Wine America.
Congratulations to Lew on a well-deserved and long overdue award!
Image courtesy the Governor's office. From eft to right: Sec. of Agriculture Todd Haymore, Gov. Bob McDonnell, Luca Paschina, general manager and winemaker, Barboursville Vineyards, First Lady Maureen McDonnell, Fernando Franco, vineyard manager, Barboursville Vineyards, and Peter Paschina, son of Luca Paschina