Over 750 of the country’s best wines have made their way to South Florida this month for the 7th annual American Fine Wine Competition and Gala held in Boca Raton. This event serves to showcase top American winemakers and labels that often fly under the radar of the average wine consumer, and even many experts. Winemakers do not need to pay a fee in order to enter a wine in the competition, but they must be invited, maintaining a tight exclusivity for the largest American-only Invitational and Gala in the country.
The American Fine Wine Competition (AFWC) began in 2007 as the brainchild of three wine professionals who pooled their many years of experience and broad range of wine talents into the idea to create a unique, first-class competition in South Florida. Shari Gherman, a Miami native, President, and co-founder of the AFWC, along with Monty & Sara Preiser, who both have extensive backgrounds in the wine industry as judges, wine writers, and most recently, publishers of the most comprehensive guide to Napa Valley & Sonoma wineries and restaurants (The Preiser Key to Napa Valley, The Preiser Key to Sonoma), worked to put together a months-long series of events that have grown to become the largest competition open only to fine wines produced in the United States.
During the judging portion of the AFWC, wines are blindly tasted by a sizable panel of professionals from all different areas of the industry. Many of these people are master sommeliers, wine educators, writers, or restaurateurs. Wines are poured in a private staging area and brought out by volunteer “wine angels” to the judges, who are separated into groups, or panels. After tasting, each judge may “award” a medal, from Bronze to Gold, to the specific wine he or she tasted. After a particular flight, individual results are discussed amongst panel members. The panel leader then tallies the medals for each wine. A consensus of 75% of the panel must agree before wines are designated a ranking, and if all the judges have agreed that a wine is worthy of a Gold medal, the wine is then awarded a Double Gold designation. This year, judging took place over a two-day period on January 19th and 20th at the Florida International University Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism in North Miami, FL. Medals will be awarded, and official results will be released on January 31st at 6:30PM Eastern Time.
Each category of wine is also awarded a “Best of Show” (BOS).
Here are the 2013 Winners:
BOS White: 2009 Rancho Wieruszowski-Riesling from Hagafen Cellars, Napa Valley
BOS Red: 2010 Donum Ranch Vineyard Pinot Noir, The Donum Estate, Carneros, CA
BOS Dessert: 2011 Late Harvest Gewürztraminer, Castillo di Amorosa, Anderson Valley Mendocino, CA
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the competition is not necessarily how many top-notch wines will be judged blindly by a “dream team” of industry professionals, but the fact that the AFWC has raised more than $600,000 for charity over the past six years since its inception. Each year, a charity is selected to be the recipient of funds raised by proceeds from the competition gala and auction. In 2014, the selected charity is Deliver the Dream (www.deliverthedream.org).
If you would like more information about the American Fine Wine Competition, check out the website, www.americanfinewinecompetition.org, for additional results from previous years, photo galleries, and upcoming events.
2014 American Fine Wine Competition Events:
Wine Carnival & Consumer Challenge
The Sonoma House
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Wine-themed carnival games, wines to taste, and a Consumer Challenge table
Tickets are $50, and can be purchased at www.americanfinewinecompetition.org
The Charity Wine Gala
The Boca Raton Resort
Saturday, April 4, 2014
A night of indulgence, discovery, and giving, winery tasting rooms, gourmet feast, silent & live auction
Tickets are $300, and can be purchased online at www.americanfinewinecompetition.org