Wine Tasting

(Photo - Elle Hughes on Unsplash)

There’s little doubt that the wine competition Tri-Valley Conservancy (TVC) Executive Director Laura Mercier started 12 years ago to spotlight the wines grown in the Tri-Valley has been a resounding success.

The organization has come a long way since the days of crowding into the Wine Steward. Year over year, the wines get better overall, and each year, new wines and winners emerge.

This year’s competition had 165 entries compared to 127 in 2020, with 28 wineries participating. In the Other Dry White category, for example, there were 28 entries compared to 11 in 2020, and 17 Chardonnays in the under $35 category, up from eight. Having the winemakers vet the entries, selecting only the wines they feel are the best examples to go forward to the final judging is enormously instructive for all involved. It makes the medal round judging really tough.

Judges were Mercier, Jim Gordon of Wine Enthusiast and Fred Swan of NorCal Wines, and they all came away impressed. They were stoked to declare these by far the best they have judged from the region yet, from the stunning Occasio Malvasia Bianca to Rhonda Wood’s Pink Pearl Rose to the impressive Nella Tella Cabernet Sauvignon, made by Collin Cranor. 

“The trend has generally been upward for some time,” said Swan. “The leap even from last year was very notable.”

Choosing Best of Class was really straightforward in some cases, when a wine really stood out. It was tougher when many of the contenders were equally strong, as in the over $40 Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah categories, where all the entries received double gold medals, and among the Bordeaux Blends, where four out of six entrants were double golds.