The annual Harvest Fair Awards dinner was held last Friday night, an event billed as a celebration of the county and not a wine competition.
But a competition it is, and amidst the bonhomie and dutiful shout-outs there lurked the slings and arrows of jealousy, envy and caprice.
For the first time ever, one winery took two of the three Sweepstakes Awards. Pezzi King Vineyards of Healdsburg took the honors in Red Wine (2012 Dry Creek Valley Row 26 Reserve Zinfandel) and in Specialty Wine (2012 DCV Royal Rot Sauvignon Blanc). The Sweepstakes for White Wine went to Angeline, a label of Santa Rosa's Martin Ray Winery ( for their 2011 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc).
But despite the success of the west county appellations, Sonoma Valley was well represented, particularly with two Best of Class awards for Glen Ellen's Benziger Family Winery and Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards in the southern valley. Benziger's subsidiary winery Imagery Estate also won a Best of Class.
"Gloria Ferrer made us proud once again this year at the 38th annual Sonoma County Harvest Fair," said Marie Gewirtz, a publicist for the winery. "[It's] a testament to the quality of both sparkling and still wines from the Gloria Estate Carneros Vineyards and our winegrowing team, who have been building on vintage memories for more than 25 years."
The Best of Class awards are probably a better indicator of the breadth of Sonoma County wines, as it's comprised of the top rated wine in each of the 39 categories, based on variety or varieties of grape, style, and price point.
The competing wines will be available for public tasting next weekend, Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 6-7. Details on this page. See the complete list of 2012 Harvest Fair medalists in the attached PDF.
Here's a rundown of the Sonoma Valley, Carneros to Kenwood, Best of Class winners in the 2012 Harvest Fair Wine Awards. (If we've missed anyone, tell us in the comments!)
Benziger Family Winery (Other Red varietal or generic), 2012 Sonoma Mountain Estate Red Blend $60
Benziger Family Winery (Chardonnay, $30 and over), 2010 Carneros Signaterra West Rows Chardonnay, $32.
Clarbec Wines (Pinot gris/Pinot grigio), 2012 Sonoma Valley Pinot Gris, $22
Deerfield Ranch Winery (Syrah/Shiraz, $25 and over), 2008 Sonoma Valley Syrah, $30
Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards (Sparkling wines), 2007 Carneros Brut Rosé, $2
Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards (Pinot Noir, retail to $25), 2009 Carneros Pinot Noir, $22
Imagery Estate Winery (Other White blends), 2011 Sonoma County "Wow Oui" Sauvignon Bland & Muscat Canelli Blend, $27
Mayo Family Winery (Rhone types, varietal or blend), 2008 Alexander Valley Carignane, $35. "It's from an old vine vineyard in Alexander Valley," said Jeffrey Mayo. "Carignane is an extremely late ripener, it needs a lot of heat and sun, more than we get here in Kenwood."
St. Francis Winery & Vineyards (Merlot, $25 and over), 2009 Sonoma Valley Merlot, $45. "“This wine is from Merlot grapes planted on our original estate vineyard in 1971 by St. Francis founder Joe Martin," said artisan winemaker Heather Munden. "Its extraordinary balance and structure exemplifies why all of our wines are made from 100 percent Sonoma County fruit.”