The annual Finger Lakes International Wine Competition took place March 29 and 30. This competition, held in Rochester every spring, is the only wine competition in the world where all the proceeds go directly to one charity. That charity is Camp Good Days and Special Times, a non-profit organization started more than 30 years ago, to provide camp for children and families from around the world touched by cancer and other life-threatening challenges. Everyone involved with the competition donates their time.
Celebrating its 14th anniversary, the event outdid itself on many levels. A record-breaking 3,756 wines from 20 countries were entered. Products from all 50 states and six provinces were included.
Seventy-seven of the world’s top judges in panels of four or five swirled, sniffed and tasted the entries.
Gold (90 to 100), Silver (80 to 89) and Bronze (70 to 79) medals were awarded, as well as Best of Show. Any wine that scored Gold from each member of a panel on the first evaluation received a Double Gold.
Perhaps even more important than the judges was the army of volunteers that categorized wines, opened bottles, served and washed stemware. A more spectacular group of friendly, giving, charitable individuals would be impossible to come by.
139 Double Gold, 283 Gold, 1,465 Silver and 1,293 Bronze were given out. Ontario came away with two Double Gold, 10 Gold, 42 Silver and 62 Bronze medals.
The Best of Show is judged after the competition is over. Specific judges, highly skilled with a particular style or grape, pick the best from the Double Gold winners. In other words, the very “best of the best” are singled out. The best Chardonnay went to Lafond Winery and Vineyards from California for their 2011. St. James Winery from Missouri took the trophy for best Riesling. Paul Hobbs Winery of California scooped best Cabernet Sauvignon for their 2011 and Debonne Vineyards from Ohio won for their 2013 Vidal icewine.
On Saturday, May 3, awards will be given out during the gala wine auction and dinner. Once again, judges are asked to bring two special bottles from their own cellars to be auctioned off as the “judges’ special collection.” It’s sure to bring in a good amount of money for the charity. Donations to the auction are always welcome and extremely appreciated.
Fourteen years on, this competition has reached a pinnacle beyond what anyone could have imagined. It keeps getting bigger and better. Of course any large event like this is only as good as the people working it, and the folks involved here are the best.
This event provides so much for those in need! Cheers to all for an incredible job well done. This competition stands as a model for others like it and I hope it’s only a matter of time until we see more. For more details on the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition go to fliwc.com. Donations to Camp Good Days are always welcome. See the website at campgooddays.org for more information.
Edward Finstein is a wine writer, award-winning author, TV and radio host, educator and judge
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