Sponsored in part by
Friday May 15, 2020
El Dorado County Fair Open Wine Competition is open to all Commercial Wineries
El Dorado County Fair invites commercial wineries from all areas to compete in the El Dorado County Fair Open Wine Competition. Thirty prestigious experts within the media, trade, hospitality, winemaking and education industries from around the country come together to judge these wines each year. We look forward to announcing the competition results at our Awards Presentation with light appetizers and wine tasting at 6:30 pm following judging. (Open to Wine Industry only, no longer open to the public)
Entry forms and wine received at Fair Office thru May 8, 2020 | Monday thru Friday 9am to 4pm
Mail forms and wine to:
El Dorado County Fair & Event Center
100 Placerville Drive
Placerville, CA 95667
Judging: Friday, May 15 at 10am (Closed to the public)
ENTRY FEE: $35 per wine by fax or mail
EARLY BIRD FEE: $30 per wine thru April 22
- Entries become the property of the El Dorado County Fair and will not be returned.
- Judges will award Double Gold, Gold, Silver, Bronze and Earth Friendly awards, as well as Best of Class and Special Awards.
- Best of Class will be awarded to classes with 10 or more entries that also include a Gold award or higher.
- All wines received will be stored in a temperature-controlled room prior to judging.
- Wine must be bottled under bond by commercial winery.
- Entries must be commercially labeled. Barrel samples are NOT allowed.
- Each entry consists of four (4) bottles of wine (750 ml) or five (5) bottles of wine (500 ml) or (375 ml).
Best of Show
Golden Johnny Trophies for best red, best white and best sweet
Sponsored by the El Dorado County Fair Association
Best of Class
Sponsored by the El Dorado County Fair Association
Best Rhone Awards
Best red Rhone and best white Rhone,
Sponsored by the El Dorado County Fair Association
Best Barbera Award
Sponsored by the El Dorado County Fair Association
Earth Friendly (Biodynamic and/or Organic)
Best red wine and best white wine,
sponsored by the El Dorado County Fair Association
Frank Herbert Memorial Award
A perpetual award, sponsored by the El Dorado Wine Grape Growers Association, is offered for the best Zinfandel wine made from El Dorado or Fairplay appellation Grapes.
El Dorado Wine Grape Growers Award
A special award, sponsored by the El Dorado Wine Grape Growers Association, is offered for the best wine produced from El Dorado or Fairplay Appellation grapes. This award will be presented to both the winery and the vineyard.
Best of El Dorado: Winemaking
A special award offered for the best wine produced and bottled by a winery in El Dorado County.
Best of Placer: Winemaking
A special award offered for the best wine produced and bottled by a winery in Placer County.
Best of Lodi: Winemaking
A special award offered for the best wine produced and bottled by a winery in the Lodi area.
Best of Amador: Winemaking
A special award offered for the best wine produced and bottled by a winery in Amador County.
Best of Nevada County: Winemaking
A special award offered for the best wine produced and bottled by a winery in Nevada County.
Back Room Gold Awards
Best red wine, best Zinfandel and best white wine.
Back Room Staff Pick, a true "People's Choice" award, sponsored by the El Dorado County Fair Association.
Wine Label Competition
See Entry Guide page for rules and entry form
Laura Ness, otherwise known as “Her VineNess,” is an accomplished wine journalist and wine critic whose passion for wine was ignited by a visit to France when she became intimately familiar with the concept of terroir. This appreciation for wines of place drives her quest to explore and appreciate the wines of California’s fascinating wine regions, from coast to foothills and everywhere in between. She regularly judges a variety of wine competitions and is the founder of the Santa Cruz Mountains Wine Taster’s Guild, a professional tasting panel that reviews and rates wines. She writes regularly for publications including the Mercury News, Edible, Wine Business Monthly and the popular online website, wineoh.tv
Melanie Wong, Chowhound and Dedicated Wine Consumer Melanie is a fifth-generation Alta Californian and native of Salinas. Her love of fine wine led her to reside in Sonoma County for 30 years. She speaks menu Spanglish fluently and chronicles her wine and food adventures and pursuit of deliciousness on Chowhound.com. Her passion and expertise in wine and gastronomy have been featured in the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Mercury News, East Bay Express, North Bay Bohemian, and Modern Luxury/San Francisco Magazine.
Melanie was honored with the Gibson Smith Scholarship from the Institute of Masters of Wine as the outstanding North American student. She is a Master Certified Barbecue Judge in the Kansas City Barbecue Society. Her discerning palate is in demand to judge wine, olive oil, bean-to-bar chocolate, chili, salsa, barbecue, and other artisan food and beverage competitions. Melanie earned her degree in Anthropology from UC Berkeley and Master of Public Health and MBA from UCLA. She serves on the Steering Committee of the California Food Policy Council and advocates for food system change for all Californians.
Winemaker at Lange Twins Winery & Vineyards and Akiyoshi Wines– Naked Wines
David was Director of Winemaking for Robert Mondavi's Woodbridge for 24 years. He has been making wine for Lange Twins for 14 years and wine with Naked Wines for over five years. He is a fastidious and dedicated winemaker–a leader of Lodi wines.
Wine Writer, Columnist
In addition to his weekly wine commentary, Dan Berger's Vintage Experiences, Dan writes a nationally syndicated wine column for Creators Syndicate as well as articles for Decanter, Robb Report, Cheers, Beverage Dynamics, and numerous other publications. He is a judge at many wine competitions, including shows in Australia, Slovenia, Belgium and across the United States, judging in at least a dozen competitions each year. He also coordinates two wine competitions in California. He is a speaker at wine symposiums and universities on topics such as wine marketing, trends in the industry, regional character of wines, and the healthful benefits of moderate consumption. He also speaks to assorted large groups interested in learning about wine.
Good Life Guy, Newsradio 1330
Food, Wine & Fun for your ears...Join Good Life Guy for cutting edge food and wine information without snobbery. Guy is a retired Air Force fighter pilot. Throughout his career in the military, which involved many years living and traveling in Europe, he has been a dedicated food and wine enthusiast and home chef. Associated with the radio program, Guy regularly attends major national wine events, seminars and tastings as enthusiast, participant and judge. He has authored many articles on the enjoyment of Food, Wine and the "Good Life" – and is called on often to share his knowledge and enthusiasm with wine appreciation classes, wait-staff training, and educational tastings and seminars. He teaches a basic and an advanced wine class at Wichita State University each semester.
Larry Van Aalst
Radio Talk Show Host, What's Cookin' on Wine: Sonoma Wine Report
Did you know that Larry Van Aalst served as a mentor to Kosta Browne Winery founder and winemaker Michael Browne? The man behind the award-winning wines said that as an 18-year-old, he began working at Equus Restaurant in Santa Rosa, CA and sommelier Larry served as his mentor. “Larry taught me what to look for in wine from the perspective of a sommelier,” Browne said. “He said to focus on pinots because the right pinots are the best in all the world.”
Larry broadcasts the popular What's Cookin' on Wine: Sonoma Wine Report every Wednesday on CRN Digital Talk Radio and is a professional wine judge for over ten competitions annually including West Coast Wine Competition, Grand Harvest Wine Competition, North of the Gate Wine Competition, San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, Sonoma County Harvest Fair, Indy International Wine Competition and Mendocino County Wine Competition.
Foxx Viticulture, vineyard consultant, grape broker
She's called the Queen of Pinot noir, the guru of grapes and, occasionally, the vine whisperer. But there's a certain element of the maternal in viticulturist Prudy Foxx. Grapes can grow almost anywhere, but that doesn't mean they should, says Prudy, who works primarily with high-end vineyards. Growing grapes can be an expensive endeavor and it can lead to heartbreak. "The challenge is to plant the grapes on a site with the highest potential to produce premium fruit with minimal intervention," she says. "You want the grapes to express the terroir they grow on, and they will do that beautifully when the vineyard is in balance."
Craig Handley, owner and winemaker of Pleasant Valley Vineyards relies on her expertise. "She's by far the best viticulturist I've ever come across," he said. "She's a walking databank on vineyards. Prudy does this out of the love for the vines."
Ellen is a published Wine Writer, Certified Sommelier, Certified Wine Specialist, Wine Educator and Professional Wine Judge. She is the author of the blog EllenOnWine.com and writes for the AWS Wine Journal (AmericanWineSociety.org) among other publications.
Ellen is a moderator for the highly acclaimed Vintner’s Holidays annual event at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite, and participates as a key speaker, moderator and panelist at various other wine events. For the past sixteen plus years, she and husband Ken co-owned award-winning Landis Shores Oceanfront Inn where Ellen served as Wine Director and Sommelier. They recently sold their Inn to devote more time to the world of wine. Ellen was also a Sommelier at the Ritz Carlton for several years. Ellen has traveled many wine regions throughout North America and several international wine regions. In addition to an MBA, Ellen’s wine education includes UC Davis viticulture course work, CSW certification from the Society of Wine Educators program, and holds the credential of Certified Sommelier (CS) from the Court of Master Sommeliers. Ellen serves as a judge at numerous national and international wine.
Fred Swan is a San Francisco-based wine writer, educator and authority on California wines and wineries. His writing appears in SOMM Journal, The Tasting Panel, the blog at JJBuckley.com, winereview.planetgrape.com, the San Francisco Wine School blog and his own site, among others. Fred’s certifications include WSET Diploma, Certified Sommelier, California Wine Appellation Specialist, Certified Specialist of Wine, French Wine Scholar, Italian Wine Professional, Sud de France Master, Napa Valley Wine Educator, WSET Level 3 Sake and Level 3 WSET Educator. In 2009, he was awarded a fellowship by the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers. In that same year, he was inducted into the Eschansonnerie des Papes, the honorary society of the Chateauneuf-du-Pape AOC. Fred won first place at the 2015 Napa Valley Wine Writer Symposium for his fictional wine review of 2009 Chateau de Plonk.
Winemaker & Author of award-winning book “The Winemaker”
After receiving his BS degree in Chemical Technology, MS degree in Food Technology and Ph.D. in Agricultural Chemistry, Dr. Peterson joined E&J Gallo Winery. He then replaced Andre Tchelistcheff as wine master at Beaulieu Vineyard and next was wine master and president of Monterey Vineyard. He continued his career as wine master and president of Atlas Peak Vineyards. Along with other investors, he purchased the Folie a Deux Winery in St. Helena. Today, he continues as viticulture and enology consultant for several small, high quality winery operations.
Dr. Peterson has been a professional member of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture since 1959, a director and its president. He was a long-time director of the Wine Institute, chairman of WITS, a Supreme Knight in the Universal Order of Knights of the Vine, and a member of most professional wine societies.
Dr. Peterson taught wine appreciation in moderation courses for twelve years at Hartnell College and has lectured frequently on wine appreciation. He has judged wines professionally in Europe, as well as in most major American competitions. He lectures on Viticulture and Enology at the International Wine Academy.
Dr. Peterson is the author of numerous publications. He holds two patents on improved wine production processing. He designed the steel barrel pallet which is now used by most of California’s wineries giving the design to the industry rather than patenting it. As a consultant, he created several new wines, including wine coolers and the original Taylor California Cellars table wines and champagnes.
Radio Talk Show Host, Wine/Food Blog Writer, Wine Tasting Promotions
Mike Wreyford, aka Mike the "Wine Guy" is a food, wine, travel and lifestyle expert. This writer, blogger, foodie, wine enthusiast and spontaneous traveler is the host and producer for "The Good Life," a popular weekly radio talk show. Mike combines his lifetime of travel, 30+ years in the restaurant/bar business, an ongoing appreciation of wine, along with his marketing and entrepreneurial expertise, to share his passion for food, wine and travel with fans and businesses.
Writer, educator, photo/videographer, consultant. Certified wine judge and Independent food and wine professional for 30+ years. Founding partner, feature writer, Wine X Magazine. Instructor, Food and Wine Pairing course: California Culinary Academy, 10 years.
Corti Bros., Sacramento - Wine & Spirits Mgr., wine merchant and buyer, 27 years
Learning Exchange wine educator, Wine Appreciation classes, 12 years
Judge: Cal St. Fair, home winemakers 2013 to present
Donals Wines, Inc., Sacramento metro - Wine education classes, wine dinners, Restaurant wine menu consultant and staff education
California State College, Chico - Sensory Perception, Wine Appreciation Classes, 2007 to Present
Vineyard Manager and Assistant Winemaker
Sierra Starr Vineyard and Winery is a small vineyard and winery in the Sierra Foothills AVA. Owned and operated by the Starr Family, Phil and Anne since 1995 and their son Jackson since 2005. Jackson judges at a variety of competitions including Calaveras County Fair, California State Fair, Mendocino County Wine Competition and Nevada County Homemade Winemakers.
Wine Writer, Wine Buyer
Michael Cervin is the author of the book California Wine Country and he covers wines and spirits for The Hollywood Reporter, Forbes, The Tasting Panel, Fine Wine & Liquor Magazine, Decanter, Palate Press, Draft and many others. As a professional judge he has served at competitions in Portugal, Puerto Rico and throughout California including The Critics Challenge, the San Francisco International Wine Competition and the California State Fair. He is the wine buyer for Pierre Lafond Montecito Market and writes a wine and spirits blog, Boozehoundz. Additionally, he is the Geneva, Switzerland Correspondent for Forbes Travel Guides and is the restaurant reviewer for Santa Barbara and Ventura counties for Gayot.com
John Ash & Co Restaurant John Ash & Co. has one of the most extensive wine lists in Sonoma County. We have been honored with the Wine Spectator “Best of Award of Excellence” for our extensive wine list and cellar of distinguished breadth and depth, and the Wine Enthusiast Magazine “Award of Ultimate Distinction.”
Barry C. Lawrence
Barry has been involved in every aspect of wine all his life—home and commercial winemaker, vineyardist, winery owner, wine educator and wine sales including wholesaler, retailer and importer. He was a CA and national board member of Society of Wine Educators, is currently a Tastevin (DTM) member of the Dionysian International Wine Society. He has been a judge for the State Fair and El Dorado County Fair since 1988 and is proud to be the only person to have judged the El Dorado County Fair every year since its inception.
Peter F. Murphy
Expert in vineyard farming and wine quality, Peter is a manager, grower and winemaker with 30+ years of experience producing grapes and wines at all levels of the wine industry. He has a BS in Fermentation from UC Davis and is an experienced as grape grower, grape seller and grape buyer, has directed in-house crews and contracted crews to develop and manage vineyards across northern California. Peter currently manages 12 vineyards in Napa, Placer, Nevada and Yuba counties and since 1987 has been CEO of ATS Ag Tech Services, Inc. He also judges at Calaveras Professional Wine Competition and California State Fair.
Stacey is a writer and editor based in Northern California, splitting her time between her adopted Santa Cruz County and her native El Dorado County. She writes weekly wine reviews and has a monthly column, Wine Press, in the Santa Cruz Sentinel and the Monterey Herald. She also writes for Santa Cruz Style Magazine. Since her retirement from the newspaper world, she has expanded writing to cover a variety of interests beyond win including food, travel, art, automobiles, music and more.
Owner, Evan's Restaurant
Evan has lived in beautiful South Lake Tahoe California for 40 years. When his two restaurants aren’t keeping him busy, he enjoys skiing, sailing and golf, cooking, reading and sampling wines. He also loves to travel and always tries to include golf on the itinerary, and of course wine tasting, too! He and his wife Candice have owned Evan's American Gourmet Cafe for twenty-eight years and the Cantina Bar and Grill for eighteen.
Owner and Winemaker of Jessie’s Grove Winery, Lodi, CA
Greg Burns is a fifth generation descendent of Jessie’s Grove Vineyards & Winery. His family has been in Lodi since the 1850s and has been growing grapes since the 1880s. He continues that legacy today managing his family vineyards since 1994. He is fifth generation grape grower yet a first generation winemaker and has been making wine commercially for the 20 years. Professional wine judging has been a passion for the last 15 years. From judging Cal State Fair to LA International and many others, he enjoys his time with his wine judging peers and feels a passion for being an eternal student of wine. This is Greg’s first year judging our competition.
Claire is a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers. She also holds the following certifications: Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators (CSW), French Wine Scholar through the French Wine Society (FWS), WSET Intermediate and Advanced (through the Wine and Spirit Education Trust), is a current candidate in the Diploma in Wine Studies through the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (DWS); completed the Tuscan Wine Masters Academy and was inducted into the society in 2012. She has worked at several wineries educating the tasting room staff and hosting clients, barrel tasting and food and wine pairing events as well as worked in the lab. Claire continues to make wine each year as an educational experiment to hone her understanding of wine profiles, styles and flaws. She also hosts an educational workshop/tasting group to share her love and knowledge of all things wine.
An accomplished wine judge, Bill began judging homemade wines at Napa County Fair. He moved to commercial competitions including Jerry D. Mead New World International, San Francisco Chronicle, El Dorado County Fair, Amador County Fair, North of the Gate and Fiddletown. He began his career with Beringer Vineyards where he conducted tastings and wine presentations, including Robert Lawrence Balzer Discovering Premium Wines of California classes. After retiring, he opted to work for small family-run wineries, continuing his love of presenting good wines but to intimate audiences, choosing Nicholson Ranch Winery in Sonoma. When he and his wife Carole moved to El Dorado Hills, he continued that quest with Lava Cap Winery. He is now retired from Lava Cap, yet maintains his love of, and interest in, fine wines—particularly local wines—actively promoting interest in local wineries whenever possible.
With 22 years in the wine industry, Von's career has taken her from wine sales and wine educator, to working harvest and making wine. She is a published photojournalist, wine columnist, holds an Advanced WSET certificate and has hosted a web-radio wine show. Now on to her greatest challenge: producing her own wines as co-founder and co-owner of Valiance Wines, with profits going to assist America's wounded Veterans and their families.
Assistant Winemaker at F. Korbel & Bros
Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW), Wine Retailer, Wine Event Organizer
Brian Miller has been exploring wine for over 30 years and is currently the owner of wine retail shop Amador360 in Plymouth, California. In addition to promoting wines of the Sierra Foothills, Brian has been a champion of the lesser-known (until recently) Barbera, creating the annual Barbera Festival, which draws over 2,000 people and more than 70 wineries from all over California. Recently he helped launch the Amador Four Fires Festival, a unique, immersive food and wine event. In addition, over the years Brian has run several other public tasting events and continues to judge at numerous wine competitions.
Robert (Bob) Schock Began wine career after moving to California and then making wine with friends who then went commercial. He began judging home wines at the Alameda County Fair in 1980, then encouraged to take the exam for the CA State Fair in 1984 and has been judging commercial wines ever since. Due to his science career, he has spent considerable time with wine in Germany, France, Australia, Georgia, Argentina, New Zealand, Croatia, Chile, South Africa, Austria and Italy. He has written over 150 publications, served as a Director of the World Energy Council, led a chapter of the 4th report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, co-authored and chaired a chapters of the 2012 Global Energy Assessment, is a co-chair of the Energy Monitoring Panel of the World Federation of Scientists, is President and Director of the N. California Fulbright Alumni Association and a Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Security Research. He was awarded a DSc (honoris causa) from Colorado College in 2014. Robert races sailboats for relaxation.
One not only drinks wine, one smells it, observes it, tastes it, sips it and—talks about it.