Governor Terry McAuliffe with Governor's Cup Case and Gold Medal winner Doug Fabbioli of Fabbioli Cellars. Contributed photo.
By Courtney Coombs.
Local wineries Fabbioli Cellars, Stone Tower Winery, and North Gate Vineyard were recently awarded coveted places in the 2016 Virginia Wineries Association's (VWA) Governor's Cup Case, a selection of 12 top-scoring wines. This honor was given after four weeks of tastings, which culminated in a final round at The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond earlier this month. The winners of the Governor's Cup competition were announced on Monday, February 22 at the Hotel John Marshall in Richmond.
The Virginia Governor's Cup is now in its 34th year. Having been revamped in 2012 to include more stringent guidelines, it is now one of the most thorough wine competitions in the country. The Governor's Cup is built from a partnership between the Virginia Wine Board (VWB), the Virginia Vineyard Association (VVA), and the owner and manager of the competition, the VWA.
“The development of the wine industry over the last decade has made it one of the fastest growing sectors of Virginia’s agricultural economy. Today, there are more than 275 wineries in Virginia and 360 vineyards that cultivate more than 3,500 acres of grapes. The Governor’s Cup winners show that advancements in Virginia wine quality are helping to grow the industry’s footprint in the Commonwealth and its reputation in the global marketplace," said Todd Haymore, Virginia's Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry.
Each year, 12 top-scoring wines in the competition are awarded with spaces in the Governor's Cup Case, from which the overall winner of the Governor's Cup is chosen. This year, there were 432 entries of both red and white wines from 95 wineries. The panel of judges, including Jay Youmans, who is one of only 38 Masters of Wine in the United States, used a unified scoring system to pick the winning wines. This year's cup winner was Keswick Vineyards 2014 Cabernet franc Estate Reserve. This is Keswick's second Governor's Cup win.
This year's Governor's Cup competition was a successful one for local vineyards as well. Five of the wines came from Northern Virginia wineries, three of which were Western Loudoun wines which won places in the Governor's Cup Case. Fabbioli Cellars's 2012 Cabernet Franc, North Gate Vineyards's 2013 Meritage, and Stone Tower Winery's 2013 Hogback Mountain were all included in the Governor's Cup Case. This was Stone Tower Winery's first entry into the Governor's Cup competition. North Gate's Meritage has been included in the Governor's Cup Case for three consecutive years.
Other local wineries also fared well at the competition, winning gold, silver, and bronze medals. Notaviva Vineyards, Breaux Vineyards, 868 Estate Vineyards, Maggie Malick Wine Caves, Sunset Hills Vineyard, and Doukenie Winery of Purcellville; The Barns at Hamilton Station Vineyards of Hamilton; and Dry Mill Vineyards & Winery, Zephaniah Farm Vineyard, and Willowcroft Farm Vineyards of Leesburg all took home medals for multiple wines entered in the competition.
Only wines made from 100% Virginia grapes are eligible for the Governor's Cup competition, and all entries include an affidavit with verification of vineyard details, including names and locations of growers, as well as more technical information such as alcohol levels, pH levels, and residual sugar. Ciders and fruit wines also had their own category and winners.
At the Governor's Cup awards ceremony, Governor Terry McAuliffe said, "It's no secret the Commonwealth's wine industry has experienced tremendous growth both in quality and quantity in recent years. Such growth has an enormous impact on Virginia in terms of economic development and job creation, especially in rural areas, and the craft beverage industry as a whole is playing a key role in helping build the new Virginia economy."
By participating in the Governor's Cup Competition and being placed in the Governor's Cup Case, North Gate Vineyard, Stone Tower Winery, Fabbioli Cellars, and the other winning wineries will be given special visibility and publicity boosts. Winning wines are taken through state programs and given exposure to top industry critics, and they are used by the Virginia Wine Board Marketing Office for marketing across Virginia, the United States, and the world. The wines will also be used at Virginia winemaker roundtable discussions for educational purposes to improve the quality of future Virginia wines. Governor McAuliffe himself will also use the Governor's Cup Case wines on country- and worldwide marketing missions to promote Virginia's wine and wine tourism industries.
The Virginia wine industry creates more than 4,700 jobs and contributes nearly $750 million to Virginia's economy each year, according to a 2012 economic impact study. Virginia is one of the top five states in both the number of wineries and wine grape production. Last year, Virginia sold more than 524,000 cases, or nearly 6.3 million bottles, of wine, an all-time high.
Stone Tower Winery is located at 19925 Hogback Mountain Rd., Leesburg. Visit stonetowerwinery.com for more details.
North Gate Vineyard can be found at 16031 Hillsboro Rd., Purcellville. Visit northgatevineyard.com for more information.
Fabbioli Cellars is located at 15669 Limestone School Rd., Leesburg. For details, visit fabbioliwines.com.
Visit virginiawine.org for more information about the Governor's Cup and Virginia's wine industry.
Governor's Cup Case and Gold Medal winner Mark Fedor of North Gate Vineyard, with fellow Loudoun winery colleague Stephen Mackey of Notaviva Vineyards. Contributed photo.