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Lake County People's Choice Wine Awards Tasting: September 26, Lower Lake, CA

LCWALogo.jpgA few weeks ago I participated as a judge in a somewhat unusual wine tasting competition. My job, and the job of the rest of the judges present, was to taste most of the wines currently being made in Lake County, and select the top few examples of different kinds of wine so that these "finalists" could be presented to the public, who would eventually determine the "winners" of the competition.

The People's Choice Awards of Lake County are somewhat unique in the world of wine competitions. Instead of critics bestowing their all important scores on wines, or state fairs and other competitions throwing around gold and silver medals to anyone that shows up, at this event, the people get to decide which wines they think are the best.

The public, like the judges that selected the fifty or so wines that will be tasted, gets to experience the wines blind, and vote on the ones they think are the best. The fact that the wines they are tasting have been culled from all the wines made in the region by a group of wine professionals means that anyone attending the event doesn't have to worry about trying to figure out the difference between the bad wines and the good wines. They're all good. So all anyone needs to do is decide which ones they like the most.

Lake County isn't a big place. It's not a world class wine destination. But it is a rustic, friendly, and picturesque wine region that tries harder, if you'll excuse the borrowing of a company tagline.

The People's Choice Wine Awards is an opportunity for anyone interested in learning about Lake County wines to get a quick education on the best the region can offer. It's also a great way for wine lovers to spend an afternoon tasting great wines in a somewhat unique format.

The event takes place at one of the larger and more established wineries in the region, Six Sigma Ranch, several of whose wines made it into the final selection by the judges as well as my own personal top ratings of all the wines we tasted.

If you're looking for an interesting and rewarding way to spend the afternoon, and want the chance to get a read on an up and coming wine region, you could do worse than drive over the hill from Napa to check out the People's Choice Wine Awards. Taste the wines and then tell me whether you agree with our choices for the best wines of Lake County.

2010 People's Choice Wine Awards Tasting
Sunday, September 26, 2010
1:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Six Sigma Ranch and Winery
13372 Spruce Grove Road
Lower Lake, CA 95457-9862 (map)
(707) 994-2086

Tickets for the event are $25 in advance, $35 at the door. Purchase them in advance online to save yourself time and money.

My usual tips for public tastings apply: get a good night's sleep; come with a full stomach; drink lots of water; wear darker, loose fitting clothing (it may be quite hot, so take that into consideration); and spit rather than swallow your wine if you want to learn anything.

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud