The Fourth Annual Georgia Trustees Wine Challenge Top Awards
The gala Georgia Trustees Wine Challenge Banquet held on Monday, October 29, 2018, seems to have gotten very positive reviews from attendees. From the food, by Executive Chef Jarad Blanton, to the environment provided by the Classic Center, attendees have lavished praise. The event quality gives us a good model to follow for the future.
The reception featured all of the gold medal winners from the 2018 competition, including mead and cider. At the banquet, the winners of the top awards and special awards were revealed. The top award is the Oglethorpe Trophy, crafted, as are all the glass trophies, by Smyrna’s Lillie Glassblowers, a Smyrna-based father-and-son glassblowing studio. This award recognizes the wine made from Georgia-produced grapes that in a blind competition the judges chose as the best of show. Following are the awards won at the banquet.
The awards started with a special award of thanks to Kennesaw State University’s Michael A. Leven School of Culinary Sustainability & Hospitality. Accepting the award for the university was Dr. Robert Mattox, Associate Vice President, Division of Student Affairs. Sponsor: Georgia Trustees Wine Challenge
Mercier/Hard Pressed Beverages in Blue Ridge won Best Cider for it’s Old #3 (Gold Rush Apple) 2017. Accepting the award for Mercier’s was Rita Sutier, Mercier’s Marketing and Training Coordinator. Sponsor: Georgia Trustees Wine Challenge
From Blairsville, ’Seyval Blanc “Chardonnay Style” 2017 took the Best Non-Vinifera White award. Steve Odom and his wife Jennifer attended the banquet, and Steve accepted the award for this family-run winery. Sponsor: Georgia Trustees Wine Challenge
Named for a Revolutionary War soldier, hero and highly regarded winemaker, Thomas McCall, the award for Best Hybrid Grape Wine went to newcomer Big Door Vineyards, White, GA, for its 2017 LeNoir, made at Horse Creek Winery in Nashville, GA. McCall was from Dublin, GA, where some of his descendants still live. Sponsor: Descendants of Thomas McCall
Best Dessert Wine went to another newcomer, Trillium Vineyard in Bremen, for its sweet Blanc du Bois, named “Pronking White” 2017. The owners, Bruce and Karen Cross attended the event, and Bruce accepted the award for the winery, Sponsors: Georgia Trustees Wine Challenge
Best Fruit Wine was awarded to Five Points Berries for its “Fadeaway,” made from blueberries. Accepting the award was owner Sterling Messer. The winery is located in Mauk, in west central Georgia. Sponsor: Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers
Best Mead was won again this year by The Viking Alchemist Meadery for its “Bliss” a 2018 mead, a pear, almond mead. Accepting the award was Robin Kasoris. The meadery is located in Marietta. Sponsor: Georgia Trustees Wine Challenge
Located in Blue Ridge, newcomer Bear Claw Vineyards won the Gay Dellinger Award for 2018 with its “Stainless” Chardonnay 2016. Dellinger was Georgia’s first post-Prohibition winemaker and vineyard owner with her Split Rail Vineyard, which produced Georgia’s first medal-winning wine, her Pinot Blanc. Attending the banquet, owners Michelle and Kevin Swim accepted the award. Sponsor: Georgia Trustees Wine Challenge
Co-Founder and Chief Judge H. Parks Redwine II passed away in June 2018, and friends have sponsored an award for Best Red Vinifera, bestowed this, its first year, on Tiger Mountain Vineyards 2016 Malbec, near Tiger, GA. Accepting the honor for Tiger Mountain Vineyards was Michelle Allen, who attended the banquet with her spouse, Larry. Sponsors: Friends of H. Parks Redwine II (Bill Stack, Stack Family Vineyards; Bob Orkin, Choice Brands; Charles Taylor; Wayne Crawford; Michelle Schreck, Atlanta Improvement Co.; Clark Goodwin; Jane Garvey)
Best Red Muscadine was awarded to newcomer Wolf Plantation Winery in Americus for its Number 9 Red Muscadine 2017, a semi-sweet red Muscadine made from the Noble Muscadine cultivar. Matt Johnson, owner and winemaker, accepted the award, presented by Gary Ison. Sponsor: Ison’s Nursery & Vineyard.
The Ison Family Award recognizes the Muscadine wine that the judges esteemed the best Muscadine of the show. This year’s award again went to Still Pond Vineyard in Arlington, GA, near Albany, for its Notchaway White 2017, made from the Carlos cultivar. Presenting the award was Gary Ison. Sponsor: Ison’s Nursery & Vineyard.
Best Wine from Out-Of-State Fruit went to Bear Claw Vineyards Riesling, made from New York State-grown grapes. Owners Michelle and Kevin Swim accepted the award for their winery, the second major award it received that evening. Sponsor: SNA Marketing/Cisco
This year the first Best Retailer award went to the Marietta Wine Market in Marietta. Owners Randall and Karen Heard dedicate a substantial amount of space to showcasing wines from a wide swath of Georgia wineries and organize numerous sold-out wine trips to north Georgia wineries. Cheryl Smith with the sponsoring Tourism Division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development presented the award. Sponsor: Georgia Department of Economic Development, Tourism Division
The grand award is the General James Edward Oglethorpe award, presented to the wine selected by the judges as the best wine of the competition. This year the winner is newcomer Big Door Vineyard in White, GA, for the 2017 LeNoir, made at Horse Creek Winery in Nashville, GA. Presenting the award was Cynthia Horton, from the Georgia Department of Agricultures, Georgia Grown. Sponsor: Georgia Grown, Georgia Department of Agriculture
The final award of the evening is the coveted “Winery of Distinction,” presented this year to Engelheim Vineyards in Ellijay, GA. Accepting the award is Gary Engel, winery owner and winemaker, who attended with his wife, Jan. Engelheim took more gold medals than any other competitor, plus silver and bronze medals. Presenting the award was Sandi Whelchel Simpson, for Norton Insurance Agency and Auto-Owners. Sponsor: Norton Insurance Agency/Auto-Owners