Virginia Wineries Association Announces 2017 Governor's Cup® Gold Medalists

Twenty-three Virginia wineries take gold in the Virginia Governor's Cup Wine Competition
The Virginia Wineries Association today announced the winners in the 2017 Governor's Cup® Virginia Wine Competition. A record number of wines were entered this year - nearly 500 - from 102 wineries, with 23 winning gold, 311 silver, and 149 bronze.

The gold medal count is down from 38 in 2016. I asked Jay Youmans, the Governor's Cup competition director, about this. Jay is the owner of the Capital Wine School in D.C., and one of the very few MWs (Masters of Wine) out there; he knows his stuff, and we are lucky to have him.

"The Virginia Governor's Cup Wine Competition continues to be one of the most difficult competitions in the US," Jay told me via email. "Honestly, a Silver medal in this competition is equivalent to a Gold in most other competitions. There were another 40-50 wines that were very close. Many of these wines averaged 89.5 points. Sadly, this only earns a Silver. To earn a Gold medal, a wine must have an average score of 90 points or higher. To achieve this in the Final Round with 15 highly experienced judges is quite difficult.

"What stood out were the number of outstanding Viogniers, Petit Mansengs, and Chardonnays in the white category. In the red category, I was very impressed with the Cabernet Francs. But it was the number of high scoring Petit Verdots that was the big story this year. The Bordeaux Blend / Meritage wines show well in most years. No surprise there."

Now in its 35th year, the competition was revamped in 2012 to become one of the most stringent and thorough wine competitions in the country. 

The gold medalists from this year's Governor's Cup were selected from 494 entries of both red and white wines, from 102 wineries. Eighteen red wines and five white wines from 15 wineries received the coveted gold medals. Seven wineries received more than one gold medal. Those wineries are:

Barboursville Vineyards (2)
Breaux Vineyards (2)
Jefferson Vineyards (2)
King Family Vineyards (3)
Michael Shaps Wineworks (2)
The Barns at Hamilton Station Vineyards (2)
Veritas Vineyard & Winery (2)
We should note, though, that as Michael Shaps is the winemaker of record for both The Barns at Hamilton Station and also the new Upper Shirley Vineyards in Charles City, Shaps - or his associates - may actually have produced five of the 24 gold medal winners. Similarly, Matthieu Finot of King Family Vineyards produces the wines for the new Valley Road Vineyards in Afton, so that would give him four golds total as winemaker.

Of the gold medal winning wines, twelve top scoring red and white wines will make up the Governor's Cup Case to showcase the state's top wines. The highest scoring wine of the competition will be awarded the grand prize of the Governor's Cup itself, by the Governor himself, later this month in Richmond. 

Patterns emerged with this year's awards. Eight red blends received golds, including Bordeaux-style blends, among others. Five Petit Verdots, all of the same 2014 vintage, won golds. Four Cabernet Francs received the sought-after gold medal along with three dessert wines. Also among the gold medalists are a sparkling wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Viognier and a Petit Manseng.

Any wine made from 100% Virginia fruit is eligible for the Governor's Cup Competition (ciders and fruit wines have their own category). 

The rapid growth of Virginia's vibrant wine industry has made it one of the fastest growing agricultural sectors in the state.  Today, there are over 280 wineries in Virginia, and 330 vineyards that cultivate over 3,800 acres of grapes. Virginia wines have been gaining praise among wine critics for caliber of wines being produced and for the dramatic increases in wine quality in recent years.  

Both the Governor's Cup Competition and the resulting Governor's Cup Case boost the visibility of the Virginia wine region through various marketing programs and exposure to top wine critics and tastemakers. 

See the full list of medal winners here. 

2017 Governor's Cup Gold Medalists

Winery Name Vintage Wine Type
Barboursville Vineyards 2013 Paxxito ($31.99)
Barboursville Vineyards 2014 Cabernet Franc ($24.99)
Breaux Vineyards Ltd. 2012 Meritage ($38)
Breaux Vineyards Ltd. 2014 Meritage
Cardinal Point Winery 2014 Union ($30)
CrossKeys Vineyards 2015 Cabernet Franc ($35)
Horton Vineyards 2015 Viognier ($20)
Ingleside Vineyards 2014 Petit Verdot
Jefferson Vineyards 2012 Meritage
Jefferson Vineyards 2014 Petit Verdot ($24.95)
King Family Vineyards Brut (Sparkling) ($35.95)
King Family Vineyards 2014 Loreley ($25.95)
King Family Vineyards 2014 Petit Verdot ($35.95)
Michael Shaps 2014 Meritage
Michael Shaps 2014 Cabernet Franc ($32)
Pollak Vineyards 2013 Cabernet Franc Reserve
Sunset Hills Vineyard 2012 Mosaic ($50)
The Barns at Hamilton Station Vyrds 2014  Cabernet Sauvignon ($28)
The Barns at Hamilton Station Vyrds 2014  Meritage
Upper Shirley Vineyards 2014 Zachariah ($38)
Valley Road Vineyards 2014 Petit Verdot
Veritas Vineyards & Winery 2014 Petit Manseng
Veritas Vineyards & Winery 2014 Petit Verdot Paul Shaffer 6th Edition