Last night the Virginia Governor’s Cup was awarded to Barboursville Vineyards for their 2015 Paxxito dessert wine, which is made from hand-picked grapes that are air-dried for up to 120 days before being crushed and pressed. The Governor’s Cup is the most prestigious annual wine competition for Virginia wine, with the winner having been selected from more than 500 submitted wines from upwards of 100 Virginia wineries.
The competition begins with each wine being tasted by seven judges over a ten-day period. The judges score each wine out of 100 points, basing their rating on the following criteria: appearance, aroma, flavor, overall quality, and commercial suitability. When tasting, the judges know the grape or category of the wine, but not the vintage or winery. Wines receiving a score of 90 and above are awarded a gold medal. To make visiting the gold medal wineries easy, the Governor’s Cup has mapped all of them out here and created a “mobile passport” that lets you check into the winning wineries from your phone (after 12 check-ins you get a free tumbler).
Of note for Washingtonians, among this year’s judges were Maria Denton, who serves as Beverage Director at the Old Ebbitt Grill and The Hamilton; David Denton, a sommelier at Charlie Palmer Steak; Rachel Fritz, co-founder and co-owner of ANXO; and Dave McIntyre, The Washington Post’s wine columnist.
After the preliminary round, 12 judges sample all of the top-rated wines and score the wines again. The lowest score for each wine is dropped, and the rest of the scores are averaged to produce a final rating. The 12 top-rated wines are honored by being included in the “Governor’s Cup Case,” and the highest rated wine is awarded the Governor’s Cup.
The following wines were included in this year’s “Governor’s Cup Case”:
- Barboursville Vineyards: 2019 Vermentino Reserve
- Barboursville Vineyards: 2015 Paxxito
- Barboursville Vineyards: 2016 Octagon
- Bluestone Vineyard: 2019 Petit Manseng
- Breaux Vineyards: 2016 Nebbiolo
- Breaux Vineyards: 2016 Meritage
- Carriage House Wineworks: 2019 Petit Verdot
- King Family Vineyards: 2017 Mountain Plains
- Michael Shaps Wineworks: 2015 Meritage
- R.A.H. Wine Co.: 2017 Series 1
- Trump Winery: 2014 Brut Reserve
- Veritas Winery: 2017 Petit Verdot
The Virginia’s Governor’s Cup is hosted by the Virginia Wineries Association, in partnership with the Virginia Wine Board and the Virginia Vineyards Association.