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Judging Lake County Wine

I’m up in the heart of California’s Lake County, in the Guenoc Valley, in the process of tasting somewhere around 150 different Lake County wines over the next 36 hours. I’m a judge at the second annual People’s Choice Wine Awards here in Lake County.

This event is fairly unique as wine competitions go. A panel of judges picks a group of top wines in several categories, and then about a month later, they are showcased blind at an event for the public, and the top wine in each category is selected by popular vote.

I’m participating as a judge for a couple of reasons. The first, and most important, is that while I’ve tasted a good deal of Lake County wine, my experience with the region is far from comprehensive. This exercise will give me a broad benchmark for understanding what’s going on in Lake County and the quality of the wines being made.

I’m also participating to support what I think is a very interesting and progressive wine competition, as such things go. As you know, I’m no fan of the medal system when it comes to wine competitions, especially those from the state fairs. This wine competition sensibly does away with all that, and then lets consumers be the final judges in a big blind tasting. I think that’s a great approach, and one that more wine competitions should take.

I look forward to sharing my thoughts on the wines (here’s a sneak preview: why aren’t more people making Roussanne, Marsanne, and Viognier up here !?), and I am tweeting as we go through, so check out my twitter feed if you’re interesting in following along.