On Tuesday, March 9, 2021, the Virginia Wineries Association, Virginia Wine Marketing Board, and the Virginia Vineyard’s Association revealed the results of the 2021 Virginia’s Governor’s Cup competition.
Jay Youman, Master of Wine and owner of the Capital Wine School who organizes the competition, had to alter how and where the judging occurred. With limited assistants this year, Jay and a scant few others filled thousands of little sample bottles to disperse to the judges. The judges tasted wines at their own respective locations and all conversations were held virtually.
For 2021, there were 544 wines representing over 100 Virginia wineries across the state. The wines were judged by six experienced wine professionals, over a 10-day period for the preliminary round. The judges scores were averaged after dropping the lowest score. The highest-ranking wines are then all tasted by a group of 12 judges over a three-day period. Again, the scores are averaged, after the lowest score is dropped, and the top 12 scoring wines are included in the Virginia Governor’s Case and the highest scoring of them is awarded the prestigious cup itself.
For the first time, cider was given its own category and award. The Best in Show Cider was evaluated by six judges with experience in the craft beverage. The highest six ranking ciders of the 27 submissions for this inaugural category in 2021 were blind tasted and ranked one-to-six. The highest-ranking cider is awarded the Best in Show award.
The Virginia Wine Marketing Board embraced social media to inform that the presentation of the Best in Show for cider, Governor’s case for wine, and the ultimate winner of the Governor’s cup would be presented online via Facebook. There was a pre-award chat hosted on Zoom by Frank Morgan of the “Drink What You Like” blog, who was one of the final judges this year in the competition. The presenting of the award-winning cider, wines, and cup winner were all pre-filmed, and then played on Facebook. Each of the winners talked about their respective cider or wine. Post-presentation of the awards, there was an online Zoom happy hour for wine industry staff that included the cup-winning team, hamming it up with the award in hand.
The first ever winner of the Best in Show for cider was Lost Boy Cider, an urban cidery located in Alexandria Virginia, for their 2020 Comeback Kid. The award was accepted by their President Tristan Wright and cidermakers David Biun and Tegan Biun.
The judging and unveiling of the results were very different this year, given social distancing requirements.
The 12 wines comprising the Virginia Governor’s case for 2021 are: Barboursville Vineyards for 2015 Paxxito, 2016 Octagon, and 2019 Vermentino Reserve; Bluestone Vineyard for 2019 Petit Manseng, Breaux Vineyards for 2016 Meritage and 2016 Nebbiolo; Carriage House Wineworks for 2019 Petit Verdot; King Family Vineyards for 2017 Mountain Plains; Michael Shaps Wineworks for 2015 Meritage; R.A.H. Wine Co. for 2017 Series 1; Trump Winery for 2014 Brut Reserve; and Veritas Winery for 2017 Petit Verdot.
And now for the cup winner: Envelop please ...
The 2021 Virginia Governor’s Cup is presented to Barboursville Vineyards for their 2015 Paxxito. This is a dessert wine made in the Passito process, which for this wine, involves drying Moscato Ottonel and Vidal Blanc grapes for two to three months so that they become dehydrated and raisinated with concentrated sugar levels, all the while retaining their acidity. The award was accepted by winemaker Luca Paschina, associate winemaker Daniele Tessaro, and viticulturist Fernando Franco. This is the fifth cup wine for Barboursville. Congratulations, team Barboursville!