The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition is the largest in North America, with more than 6,700 entries this year. It’s a herculean effort that takes months to organize and hundreds of volunteers, who get paid in wine, the best currency.
The competition was completed on Jan. 10. More than 65 judges representing various North American wine regions evaluated wines from over 1,000 wineries for the 2020 competition.
One of the 66 wines in the sweepstakes round was the playfully peppery 2017 Alara Cellars Cabernet Pfeffer from San Benito. It’s the first time Janu Goelz landed a Best of Class (BOC) wine at “the Chron.” Her husband Jason Goelz of Jason-Stephens scored BOC for his 2014 syrah from Lion Oaks Ranch (and a Double Gold for his San Benito cab franc), and Satori snagged BOC for their 2017 SCV petite sirah.
Bringing home Double Golds for wine made from Santa Clara Valley fruit were Church Creek’s 2014 cabernet franc, Kirigin Cellars’ 2017 barbera and 2017 pinot noir, La Vie Dansante’s 2016 grenache, Martin Ranch’s 2015 Thérèse Vineyards Dos Ninas malbec, Satori’s 2017 merlot and Solis Winery’s 2016 cabernet sauvignon.
Other awards from the competition included Best Sparkling, which went to the Breathless blanc de noirs, Best White to Trader Moon 2016 viognier made by Delicato ($5.99), Best Rosé was the 2019 Ferrari-Carano sangiovese, Best Red went to 2016 deLorimier Crazy Creek cabernet from Alexander Valley, and best dessert was a Ferrante Vidal Blanc ice wine from Ohio. I thought the 2017 Sequoia Grove merlot (Napa) was far superior to the cab.
The public tasting event will be held Feb. 15. For complete results, visit winejudging.com.