Eighteen different commercial winemakers from around the state entered their wines in the growing Mesa County Fair contest. The 2011 Tempranillo produced by Reeder Mesa Winery took home the gold medal and Best in Show in the Mesa County Fair’s 2015 Commercial Winemaker’s Competition, now in its sixth year.
The Tempranillo received the highest point score of the day earning it a gold medal plus the “Best of Show.” Wines produced by Mesa Park Vineyards, Talon Winery and Whitewater Hill Winery also won gold medals.
The total medal count for the competition was 4 gold medals, 25 silver medals and 34 bronze medals.
All commercial winemakers in Colorado were invited to compete. Each entry was required to have 75 percent of its ingredients grown in Mesa County. While most of the competing wines were local, there were 18 wines from the Front Range and surrounding area wineries this year.
A panel of distinguished judges including wine columnists, wine critics, retailers, food and beverage directors and experienced sommeliers, reviewed the wines in a blind tasting on June 27. The tasting was facilitated by Steve Menke, an associate professor of enology at Colorado State University.
The judges were:
Shirley Nelson, wine writer and pioneer supporter of the New Mexico wine industry. Nelson has judged numerous wine competitions and has been following the Colorado wine industry for many years. Nelson is a three-time Mesa County Fair wine competition judge and two-time Colorado Governor’s Cup judge.
Patty Kester, wine aficionado and sales representative for Beverage Distributors Company out of Grand Junction. Beverage Distributors holds the largest share of the Colorado spirits market.
Dave Buchanan, consulting wine writer for the Daily Sentinel in Grand Junction. Buchanan covers the local, national and international wine scene in both print and online. Buchanan is a two-time Mesa County Fair wine competition judge.
Debbie Kovalik, executive director, Grand Junction Visitors and Convention Bureau. She has spent the last 24 years helping promote Colorado’s wine industry. Kovalik was named “Friend of Colorado Wine” by the Colorado Association for Viticulture and Enology (CAVE) in 2013.
Phillip Aquafresca, director of operations for Future Bars Inc. in San Francisco, Calif. Aquafresca has been a food and wine director and is an advanced level Sommelier. Acquafresca was awarded Sommelier of the year in 2001 by the San Francisco Chronicle. Shirley Nelson said: “The wines in this year’s Mesa County Wine Competition highlighted the talents of the winemakers who captured the varietal qualities of grapes or offered attractive blends. Worthy of note – this year’s judges ranged from California to New Mexico to Colorado, meaning that a broad range of expertise added a bon bouche to the competition. In the exploding world of wines, Mesa County wines certainly hold their own!”
The winners will be on display at the Community Building all week during the Mesa County Fair, which is July 14-18. Many of the wines also will be featured at the Fair’s Wine Tasting Event in the gazebo on July 16 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit www.mesacountyfair.com.