Congratulations Windwalker Winery
I have been keeping a close eye on commercial wine competition around California for the past 20 or so years. During that time more and more El Dorado County wineries have earned higher and higher awards as their quality not only increased, but stayed at those high levels.
As far back as I have been keeping track, our wineries have often scored as many high awards at the California State Fair as Napa and Sonoma, and have received a number of “Best of California Awards” for a specific varietal, the most recent being the 2007 Sangiovese from Nello Olivo Vineyards last year.
At other competitions such as the highly respected Orange County Fair, El Dorado County wines have always done well. In 2009 of the nearly 3100 wines entered, only 26 received the top award, a “4 Star Gold Medal.” Of these, two were from El Dorado County, the 2006 Fair Play, Sierra Moon Vineyards, Reserve Petite Sirah from MV Winery and the 2006 Estate Grown, Fair Play Zinfandel from Granite Springs Winery. Two out of 26 out of 3100, not bad.
Unfortunately, El Dorado County wines don’t aways get the best press outside of the county. After all, when “Two Buck Chuck” chardonnay won a big award a few years ago, it made for a more interesting story than how our wines did in a competition.
This year an El Dorado County winery, Windwalker Vineyard and Winery, may have helped prove the case to the media that our wines are as good or even better that others in California when their 2008 Shady Lady Amador County Primitivo received the coveted Best of Show Award for Red Wines at the California State Fair, a competition where 2800 wines competed. It also received 98 out of 100 points from the judges, a double gold medal, Best of Region Sierra Foothills Appellation award, Best of California award and Best of Class Sierra Foothills Appellation award.
A few newspapers and TV stations picked up the news of the award and, because of some confusion in the scoring sheets, some decided the winery was named Shady Lady and was in Amador County. Wrong! The wine is 2008 Windwalker “Shady Lady” Amador County Primitivo. The grapes came from Amador County, but that wine was made at Windwalker Vineyards and Winery on Perry Creek Road in Fair Play.
If you are wondering, a winery making wine from grapes grown other than on their own land is a common practice in the winemaking trade. Not only do El Dorado County wineries do that, a number of wineries in other regions of California use grapes grown in El Dorado County and make wonderful, world class wines. Maybe there is a varietal that just grows better somewhere else or maybe the winemaker just likes those grapes.
Congratulations James and Alanna Taff, owners of Windwalker, and winemaker Dominic Mantei for a job well done.