During a four-week stretch from January to February, an esteemed panel of 19 judges poured over 530 Virginia wines to determine the best bottles in the state. By the end, 64 varietals from 40 different wineries emerged victorious and were showcased at the 38th Annual Virginia Governor’s Cup Celebration hosted at Richmond’s Main Street Station.
The yearly, invite-only event featured tastings of the gold medalist wines as well as pours from other silver and bronze finishers. Most popular varietals included blends, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Petit Manseng and Cabernet Sauvignon. Jay Youmans, who has a Masters of Wine qualification and directed the event's panel of 19 judges, said, “Virginia wines continue to impress, year over year. The overall quality continues to grow and every vintage tells a fascinating story. Anecdotally, in the blended wine category, the judges tasted an impressive number of quality Tannat-driven wines that demonstrate the diversity of varieties that are seeing success in Virginia.”
Also announced at the late February celebration was the overall winner of the Commonwealth’s 2020 Governor’s Cup. Judges revealed a 2017 Vidal Blanc Passito from 868 Estate Vineyards as this year’s foremost blend. The white varietal is comprised entirely of Loudoun County fruit and is crafted using an Italian technique that partially dries grapes to concentrate flavor and ceases fermentation prematurely to retain natural grape sugar in the final product.
“I am thrilled to award the Governor’s Cup to Carl DiManno and congratulate the whole team at 868 Estate Vineyards on their sweet finish,” said Gov. Northam. “The Vidal Blanc Passito embodies both the experimentation and artistry that has made Virginia the leading East Coast destination for wine. This year’s Governor’s Cup case is a strong reflection of our world-class wine industry and the distinctive wines being produced in our Commonwealth.”
In addition to the Passito, vintages from 2014 to 2017 from notable Virginia wineries like Afton Mountain Vineyards, Barboursville Vineyards, Delaplane Cellars, Lake Anna Winery, Michael Shaps Wineworks, Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyard, Pollak Vineyards, Rockbridge Vineyard and Shenandoah Vineyards were included in the Governor’s Cup case.
The following people were also recognized during this year’s Industry Awards:
- Justin Rose of Rosemont of Virginia Winery—awarded Virginia Wine Person of the Year for his commitment to the 27-acre vineyard and annual case production of 6,000
- George Hodson, CEO of Veritas Vineyards & Winery, president and principal of Flying Fox Vineyard, and president of the Monticello Wine Trail—awarded David King Advocate of the Year
- Randy Phillips, general manager of Cave Ridge Vineyard—awarded Gordon Murchie Lifetime Achievement Award
Virginia is the sixth largest wine region in the nation, boasting over 300 wineries and more than 3,800 acres of grapes.