I've been in northern California judging at the annual San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, the nation's largest with 6,850 entries this year from around the United States.
The competition is run by Bob, Cary and Scott Fraser, with the backroom coordinated by the incomparable Anne Vercelli overseeing about 100 volunteers serving some 60 judges evaluating the wines over three and a half days. What a job!
Best of Class awards went to Atwater Estate 2014 Riesling, and Merritt Estate Bella Ice.
Double Gold medals were awarded to Anthony Road 2015 Dry Riesling; Bellangelo 2015 Riesling, Gibson Vineyard; Merritt Estate Bella Rosa; Penguin Bay Percussion, and 2015 Riesling; Swedish Hill 2015 Riesling; and Wagner 2015 Dry Riesling.
Gold medals went to 1911 McIntosh Classic Apple Wine; Bellangelo 2015 Dry Riesling; Black Willow 2015 Diamond, and 2015 Bare Cat Blush; Brooklyn Winery 2013 Blanc de Blanc, and 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon; Buttonwood Grove 2015 Riesling; Coyote Moon 2015 LaCrescent, 2015 Concord, and 2015 Niagara; Keuka Spring Vineyards 2015 Riesling Humphreys Vineyards, and 2015 Vignoles; Merritt Estate 2015 Vidal Ice Wine, Edelweiss, and Pinot Grigio; Swedish Bill Blanc de Blanc; and Wagner 2015 Riesling.
The Chronicle tasting always kicks off the competition season, with Florida up next in early February. In 2016, New York wines won more than 1,000 Gold medals or scores of 90 or above in major wine magazines, and 2017 will probably be bigger and better.
But a reminder to the wineries: If you don't enter, you can't win.