The annual Jefferson Cup Invitational Wine Competition winners were announced last month after a rigorous and competitive blind tasting of over 700 wines. The Jefferson Cup is unique in that it sets the table for wines from all over the U.S. to be judged, not just bottlings from the West Coast; thus it is a celebration of the best American wines, something pioneer grape grower (and third President) Thomas Jefferson would have appreciated.
Founder and competition director, Doug Frost MS/MW, invites wines that have proven their excellence to be part of the judging. Now in its 16th year, the 2015 Jefferson Cup had entries from 24 states. All the wines were grouped together in like flights and tasted blind. Many in the industry have begun to call the the Jefferson Cup Invitational, the “Olympics” of wine competitions.
From all the entries, selected wines were chosen to receive the “Medal of Merit,” that is wines that were considered representative of their regions and varieties, comparable to a Silver Medal. The judges also selected wines they believed to be great wines, awarding them the “Medal of Excellence,” equivalent to a Gold Medal. Finally, only 55 wines were chosen as Jefferson Cup nominees, equivalent to a Double Gold Medal, by the panels, to be considered for the highest honor, the Jefferson Cup.
From those wines, the judges collectively chose 27 wines as the best of the best for the Jefferson Cup. Missouri led the pack this year 9 cups, followed by New York with 6 and Michigan with 3. In all, 9 states received the competition’s highest honor. Missouri’s Stone HIll won an unprecedented 3 cups, while two cup winners included Ladoga Ridge Winery (Missouri), Wagner Vineyards (New York) Dos Cabeza WineWorks (Arizona), St. Julien Winery (Michigan) and Brian Carter Cellars (Washington).
For Sparkling Wine:
- St. Julian Winery Sweet Nancie (Sparkling Traminette) nv Lake Michigan Shore (MI)
For White Non-Vinifera Wine:
- Holy-Field Vineyard & Winery Valvin Muscat 2014 (KS)
- Montelle Winery Dry Vignoles 2014 Augusta (MO)
For White Vinifera Wine:
- Dr. Konstantin Frank Grüner Veltliner 2014 Great Lakes (NY)
- Hawthorne Vineyards Auxerrois Barrel Reserve 2014 Old Mission Peninsula (MI)
- Sheldrake Point Winery Dry Riesling 2014 Finger Lakes (NY)
- Wagner Vineyards Riesling Select 2013 Finger Lakes (NY)
- Wagner Vineyards Riesling Caywood East Vineyard 2014 Finger Lakes (NY)
For Rosé Wine:
- Adam Puchta Winery Dry Rosé nv (MO)
- pureCru Napa Valley Rosato di Sangio 2015 Lodi (CA)
For Red Vinifera Wine:
- Brian Carter Cellars Byzance 2011 Columbia Valley (WA)
- Cakebread Cellars Dancing Bear Ranch 2012 Howell Mountain (CA)
- Dos Cabezas WineWorks La Montaña Cimarron Vineyard 2012 Cochise County (AZ)
- Dos Cabezas WineWorks Águileón Cimarron Vineyard 2012 Cochise County (AZ)
- Eden Hill Vineyard Aglianico Winemaker’s Reserve Oswald Vineyard 2014 Texas High Plains (TX)
For Red Non-Vinifera Wine:
- Alba Vineyard Chambourcin Estate 2012 Warren Hills (NJ)
- Ladoga Ridge Winery Concord nv (MO)
- Les Bourgeois Vineyards Jeunette Rouge nv (MO)
- Stone Hill Winery Chambourcin 2013 Hermann (MO)
- Stone Hill Winery Norton Cross J Vineyard 2013 Hermann (MO)
- Stone Hill Winery Norton Estate Bottled 2013 Hermann (MO)
For Dessert Wine:
- Adam Puchta Winery Signature Port nv (MO)
- Brian Carter Cellars Opulento 2013 Yakima Valley (WA)
- Glenora Wine Cellars Riesling Ice 2014 Finger Lakes (NY)
- Ladoga Ridge Winery Blackberry nv (MO)
- Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars Riesling Ice 2014 Finger Lakes (NY)
- St. Julian Winery Solera Cream Sherry nv (MI)
By selecting both vinifera and non-vinifera (native) wines for the competition each year, the Jefferson Cup respects the diversity of American viticulture, patterned after Thomas Jefferson’s own acceptance of native grape varieties and hybrids.
(Disclaimer: I was a judge at the Jefferson Cup Invitational Wine Competition 2009 – 2015.)