By Sally Voth
Raise a glass to Shenandoah Valley winemakers -- they won numerous medals at the recent Virginia Governor's Cup Competition.
The Virginia Wine Board, the Virginia Wineries Association and the Virginia Vineyards Association put on the competition, which only accepts wines made from 100 percent Virginia grapes, according to a news release from Gov. Bob McDonnell's office.
On Thursday, Barboursville Vineyards' Octagon 12th Edition was named the top wine, and awarded the Governor's Cup, according to the release.
Shenandoah Vineyards, in Edinburg, won two of the 20 gold medals given out in the competition, one for its Cabernet Franc, and another for its blended red wine, Rhapsody in Red.
Shenandoah Vineyards' owner Emma Randel said she'd just found out Friday her wines had won more medals in a separate competition, "so we're riding high."
"We're very excited," she said. "It's quite an honor. Out of 377 wines entered, there were only 20 golds, and we got two of them."
Randel attributed the wins to the wines' quality. Shenandoah Vineyards also won two bronze medals.
"Another advantage, here we have higher elevation than so many of the other wineries, and here in the valley, it's a little cooler and drier, and all that leads to good wine," she said.
Also bringing home the gold was Glen Manor Vineyards' Hodder Hill Meritage. It's not the first time the Warren County winery has done well at the competition.
"We actually won the Governor's Cup last year," owner/winemaker Jeff White said Friday. "Most of the winners this year, the gold medalists, were from the 2009 and 2010 vintage -- all the winners ... it speaks highly of both of those vintages, of being the superb vintages in Virginia.
"It's the competition in Virginia. We're happy, quite happy."
Cave Ridge Vineyard in Mt. Jackson won one silver and four bronze medals.
"I think our wines did pretty well," Cave Ridge owner and winemaker Randy Phillips said. "I think a lot of the wines coming out this year in the competition were from the 2011 harvest, and that was the year that was probably the rainiest harvest season that any of us had ever seen. But, we got a lot less rain in our area of the valley, so the grapes were harvested in good condition, and any time you have good grapes, it's easier to make good wine."
The Governor's Cup competition began in 1982, Virginia Wine Board Marketing Office Director Annette Boyd said.
"It's a big deal, and we bring in national judges to judge the wines," she said. "They go through a preliminary round with 45 judges, and then they go through a final round with 15 wine judges that all are the crème de la crème of being experienced wine tasters. It's one of the most stringent competitions in the U.S."
Other winners from the Northern Shenandoah Valley include Cedar Creek Vineyards, Fox Meadow Winery and North Mountain Vineyard and Winery.
Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org