Judging at 2017 NC State Fair Wine Competition

We spent the weekend of August 18th-20th at the Shelton-Badgett Center for Viticulture and Enology at Surry Community College in Dobson, NC for the North Carolina State Fair Wine Competition.  This was our first time ever judging a wine competition.  We were honored to have been chosen to be part of the panel of judges which included media, bloggers, educators, and Certified American Wine Society Wine Judges.

For an overview of the changes for this year’s competition go our previous blog post here.


Opening Reception

The weekend kicked off Friday night with an Opening Reception in Dobson.  This was our first visit to the Shelton-Badgett Center.  The building is absolutely beautiful.  Its decor is wine inspired.  From the “barrel stave” ceiling to the “wine bottle” lights overhead, the Grand Hall where we were located certainly set the mood.  The opening reception gave us a chance to meet the other judges, enjoy some North Carolina Wine, have some good food, and hear details of the competition.


Competition Breakdown

The competition was really six competitions.  The categories were:

  • Best Bunch Wine (Vinifera/Hybrids) – Amateur
  • Best Muscadine Wine – Amateur
  • Best Fruit/Honey Wine – Amateur
  • Best Bunch Wine (Vinifera/Hybrids) – Commercial
  • Best Muscadine Wine – Commercial
  • Best Fruit/Honey Wine – Commercial

Judges were divided into four groups.  Each group received a different set of wines.  Wines were judged on their own merits in flights of four to nine wines.  Thus wines were not compared to each other.  They were scored using the American Wine Society 20 Point Scale and rated for:

  • Appearance (Max of 3 points)
  • Aroma/Bouquet (Max of 6 points)
  • Taste (Max of 6 points)
  • Aftertaste (Max of 3 points)
  • Overall Impression (Max of 20 points)

For more information on this scale, go check out this video.

Medals were awarded as follows:

  • 18-20 Points:  Would you buy a bottle, keep in a cellar, and share with friends? – Gold
  • 15-17 Points – Would you buy a bottle and drink? – Silver
  • 12-14 Points – Would you have a glass? – Bronze

Double Golds were awarded to wines which received a Gold Medal rating from all judges in the panel.

2017 NC State Fair Wine Competition

Saturday Competition

Saturday morning kicked off around 9am with a wine to cleanse our palates.  Of course, the entire day was swishing and spitting.  We started with the amateur competition and finished that by midday.  The afternoon kicked off with commercial white bunch grape wines (vinifera and hybrids) for some tables.  Other tables started with rosés or even reds.  We did 5-7 flights that afternoon.  By the end of the day, our palates were tired.  We wrapped up around 5:45pm and headed for the hotel.


Saturday Night Dinner

Saturday evening we were bussed to dinner at Harvest Grill at Shelton Vineyards.  The evening was sponsored by the North Carolina Winegrowers Association and the North Carolina Muscadine Grape Association.  It included great food, great wine, and great company.  We loaded up the bus and headed back to the hotel to get ready for day two.


Sunday Competition

Sunday kicked off much like Saturday with a palate cleansing wine.  The morning was devoted to commercial muscadine wines and commercial fruit/honey wines.  This included 3-5 flights.  Around noon, we prepared for the “Best” awards.  The four panels collapsed to three panels.  Commercial wines came first.  We had been seated on different panels and remained so for the “Best” awards.  Thus we were able to judge the Fruit/Honey award and Bunch award.  Each judge ranked his/her top five wines in order.  The top three wines required a unanimous decision from the panel.  Once we completed the commercial “Best” awards, we moved on to the amateurs.  A similar process was used.


After verification of production to confirm winning wines used at least 75% of North Carolina fruit/honey, the “Best” awards and full results from the competition will be announced at ncwine.org on September 1, 2017.  We will share the results once they are publicly available.

We were truly honored to have participated in this key event of the wine industry in our state.  We saw old friends and met new ones.  We tasted a lot of wine which broadens our palates and will better prepare us as we continue our wine journey.


Posted by Joe Brock

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