As the CEO of Women & WIne, http://womenwine.com, I wear a lot of different hats. So it was a great privilege on Thursday, to help host a press and bloggers tasting event - a sneak peak so to speak - to showcase some of the winners prior to the announcment yesterday to the public.
The competition attracts 3800 submissions in the wine category alone from around the world. The organizers at the Los Angeles Fairplex (yes! you probably know this as the home of the Pomona County Fair) estimate that about 20% or more were new wineries that had never entered prior competitions.
In it's 70th year - the 75 judges who participate used handheld electronic devices to tabulate their votes during the three and a half days of tasting to find not only the BEST OF SHOW but the BEST OF CLASS for several different price points in conjunction with the interest by consumers to find wines that cost less.
The price categories - under $14.99, up to $30 and $30 and above were displayed at Thursday's event and I had suggested that attendees get a chance to blind taste 5 Best of Class winners to see if we could determine which price ranges they represented as well as which of the five might have won Best of Show.
Groups of 8 at a time were led by Mary Ellen of the Fairplex staff through a very professionally conducted tasting - with a few giggles from some of us (me included) as we realized that we had never blind tasted based on price. I suggested that we each put a T under each glass to first try to see if we could each determine the price point of the wines (we were told the varietal that they had won a Best of Class award in under the circle on the tasting sheets).
Proud to say that I got 5/5 for price - it must be all of those wines that I taste for our store Wine Valet at Two Rodeo Drive - http://wine-valet.com - but astounded myself when I was also able to identify blind David Bruce 2006 Pinot as an over $30 Best of Show Winner (gold stars!!!)
Congrats to all the winners - especially when you realize how many rounds the Best of Show wines had to go through - winning both the Best of Class in their varietal and price range and then the Best of Show in the same.
I'm going to the Wine & Cars Under the Stars event at the Fairplex tonight which helps raise money for the Fairplex Foundation that supports programs for children - I can't wait to taste more of the winners.
To see the winners, go to http://tiny.cc/Q0f7Y