Area wineries reel in medals at Governor’s Cup

Valerie Hill Winery is among six local wineries and vineyards awarded medals in the 2015 Governor’s Cup Wine Competition, according to the full list of winners published on VaWine.org last week. Courtesy photo

Six local wineries and vineyards have been awarded medals in the 2015 Governor’s Cup Wine Competition.

The medalists for this area include Muse Vineyards in Woodstock, Valerie Hill Vineyard in Stephens City, Fox Meadow Winery in Linden, Shenandoah Vineyards in Edinburg, Veramar Vineyard LLC in Berryville and Cedar Creek Winery in Star Tannery.

Muse Vineyards received a gold medal for its 2012 Meritage Bordeaux blend in its first year submitting a wine under its own name.

Robert Muse, part owner and operator for Muse Vineyards, said they have provided grapes for previous Governor’s Cup gold medal winners.

“We sell a lot of grapes to vineyards in the Charlottesville area,” Muse said, noting that they received their ABC winery license in 2009.

On receiving this gold medal, Muse said, “It’s a great honor, and that can be said routinely, but in this case it happens to be true.”

Muse referred to the Virginia Governor’s Cup as “probably the most demanding wine competition in the country” due to the fact that wines are judged via a blind tasting.

According to VirginiaWine.org, wines are scored on a 0-100 rating scale and given classifications ranging from “Not Recommended” to the Gold Medal classifications of “Outstanding” and “A Classic Wine.”

A wine designated “A Classic” receives a score between 95-100 and, according to VirginiaWine.org, is “among the best wines in the world.”

Another fairly new vineyard, Valerie Hill, saw its first taste of recognition from the Governor’s Cup.

Owner and operator Phil Newcomb said, “Just two and half years open and here we are winning medals already. So we are really happy.”

Valerie Hill was awarded four total medals, one silver for its 2013 Cabernet Franc and three bronze medals — for its 2013 Merlot, 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon and a Bordeaux Blend called “Stone Chimney Red.”

Newcomb also expressed the “toughness” of the Governor’s Cup. “There’s some excellent, great wines in Virginia, so we are very pleased to win four medals out of it.”

The 2015 Governor’s Cup results also featured medalists from area wineries that have previously been awarded in this competition.

Fox Meadow winery received six total medals, the most of any winery or vineyard in the Northern Shenandoah Region.

Fox Meadow was awarded three silver medals for its 2013 Chardonnay, 2012 Merlot and 2012 Bordeaux Blend; and three were bronze medals for its 2013 Riesling, 2013 Pinot Grigio and a 2012 Meritage Bordeaux Blend called “Le Renard Rouge.”

The Governor’s Cup medals are “additional validation for our wines. We think we make good wines, but we like to see other people’s opinion, too,” said Dan Mortland, owner and operator of Fox Meadow.

Shenandoah Vineyards, a staple for more and 40 years, received four medals, one silver for its 2014 Rose of Cabernet Sauvignon and three bronzes for its 2014 Riesling, 2014 Chardonnay and 2013 Chambourcin.

Emma Randel, owner and operator of Shenandoah, said, “We are honored to have [our wines] selected for these awards this year and many others in the past.”

To Randel, a medal in the Governor’s Cup is “a good indication of the quality of the wine” due to the fact that “a panel of judges” votes on the wines.

Another established brand, Veramar Vineyard, was awarded two silvers for its 2013 Veramar Cabernet Franc and its 2013 Veramar Chardonnay and a bronze medal for its 2013 Veramar Estate Club Chardonnay.

James Bogaty, owner and operator of Veramar, said that this year’s Governor’s Cup shows that “Virginia wines are improving across the board.”

“The quality of Virginia is equal, on-par or better than all international wines. Our wines are as good as French, Italian and California wines,” he said.

Cedar Creek Winery has been awarded at least two medals in the three previous Governor’s Cup competitions. This year, Cedar Creek received one silver medal for its 2012 Cabernet Franc.

Ron Schmidt, owner and operator of Cedar Creek, noted wines from the vineyard have been awarded for the last several years.

“Silver medal means the wine is a very, very good wine,” Schmidt said, noting that it is not a competition against other wineries, but against “the standards of that particular wine.”

For Robert Muse and Muse Vineyards, the next step will be the Governor’s Cup Gala on Feb. 24 in Richmond, where the overall winner of the 2015 competition will be crowned.

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com