Once again I was feeling very fortunate to leave the Pacific Northwest and visit the sunshine state of Florida the first cold week of February. Of course, as soon as I boarded the plane for Florida, the temperature of Portland, Oregon rose to a record high of over 50 degrees, with sun shining!
No worries…I was on my way to the Florida State Fair International Wine Competition where I would be surrounded by over 3600 bottles of wine from around the world! Yes, the wine gods were smiling down on me and the sun was shining in Florida! Not only do I get to meet with my old wine friends, but I get to meet some new ones every year. There will be new volunteers to help us run the back end of the competition and there will constantly be a rotation of new judges each year.
As the 24th year of this wine competition got underway, we observed the wines from 10 countries and 34 states. The setup for a competition of this size takes its toll on the backs and feet of many volunteers for 3 long days! The array of bottles on tables, tagged with computerized numbers and placed in order of their varieties, is simply astonishing! We will always give special thanks to BJ Paulish for her never ending work of organizing, as well as handling the computerization of this huge competition.
Amateur wines also arrived in vast amounts this year. (182 entries to be exact!) The multitude of wines then goes to the palates of many wine judges for 3 days of tasting, spitting and talking over the results. At the end of the competition it’s always exciting to see the results that were awarded to each deserving winery. (To view the entire breakdown of results visit http://www.fgga.org/)
So in the end, after viewing all the results, it is always enlightening to realize that you really don’t have to be a Napa Cabernet, a New York Riesling, a Canadian Ice Wine, or an Oregon Pinot Noir to enter competitions. You can be a Baco Noir from Pennsylvania, a Stover from Florida, or a Brianna from Nebraska. There seems to be a grape for every climate and soil that can exceed expectations and become a contender! These wines exist to be loved and consumed by someone, somewhere.
So here’s to another year of great wines to be found by all of us! Cheers!