san francisco chronicle

The results are in, and New Jersey wineries that chose to enter the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition (SFCWC) are feeling the weight of the many medals won at the largest and most prestigious competition of North American wines in the world.

How the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition Works

This is how the competition works: Any winery in North America can voluntarily enter, but the wines they enter must be crafted from fruit and grapes grown or produced in the U.S., Canada, or Mexico. This year, more than 60 judges, representing various North American wine regions, evaluated 5,500 wines from nearly 1,000 wineries.

The judges taste blind. They don’t know who made the wine or the region where the wine was produced. They do know the grape and the price of the bottle, which they take into consideration when judging. Wines are placed in categories based on wine type and price range. For example, there are three categories for Cabernet Franc wines: up to $29.99; wines from $30 to $39.99, and wines $40 and over. 

It’s meaningful to understand the parameters of the judging for this reason: When a New Jersey wine is judged, it’s evaluated against wines from all over the country.  Each wine is judged fairly and without bias. The medals won in all states indicate that great wine is made in all regions of the country.

SFCWC judges thoroughly evaluate the wines for how they look, smell, and taste, keeping in mind the grape and the price. Wines receive a Gold, Silver, or Bronze medal based on the average score of the judges  (or no medal at all if the wine was deemed flawed). A Double Gold medal is awarded if each judge found the wine worthy of gold. 

New Jersey’s 2023 SFCWC Awards

Four New Jersey wineries chose to enter the 2023 competition, and 22 wines from those four wineries medaled. 

Double Gold: According to the SFCWC, this medal is “awarded to the very few entries that receive a Gold medal rating by all members of the judging panel; these are among the finest wines in the world.”

Judges awarded three New Jersey wines Double Gold medals, indicating they felt they are among the finest wines in the world. 

Gold: According to SFCWC, this medal is an “exceptional wine that is near the pinnacle of achievement in its category; these products set the standard for all other wines of its type.”

Judges awarded four “standard setting” New Jersey wines gold medals.

  • Sharrott Winery 2020 Merlot
  • William Heritage Winery 2019 Blanc de Blancs
  • William Heritage Winery 2021 Gravel Block Chardonnay
  • William Heritage Winery 2020 Burn Pile Chambourcin

Silver: According to the SFCWC, this medal is for an “outstanding wine that shows refinement, finesse, and complexity; these winners are among the best examples of its particular category.”

Judges found six New Jersey-produced wines to be “outstanding.”

  • Autumn Lake Winery 2021 Albarino
  • Red Sled (from William Heritage) NV Cabernet Sauvignon 
  • Sharrott Winery 2021 Brut
  • Sharrott Winery NV Sauvignon Blanc/Fume
  • Sharrott Winery 2021 Cabernet Franc
  • Sharrott Winery 2019 Wicked 

Bronze: According to SFCWC, this medal is for a “commercially sound wine that is modestly attractive, and free from significant flaws; these winners are among the better examples in its category.

Judges found these seven New Jersey wines to be among the better wines in their category.

  • Auburn Road Vineyards 2020 The White Bottle (Chardonnay)
  • Auburn Road Vineyards 2019 Volume Two (Petit Verdot)
  • Auburn Road Vineyards 2020 GAIA 2020 Red Blend 
  • Autumn Lake Vineyards 2018 Couer d’Est Red Blend
  • Sharrott Winery 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Sharrott Winery 2021 Couer d’Est Red Blend
  • Sharrott Winery NV Tango Red Blend

Not familiar with the Outer Coastal Plain’s Couer d’Est red blend? We will share more on this unique project shortly!

Representing New Jersey and the East Coast

Garden State Wine Growers Association is grateful to these wineries for representing New Jersey on a national stage. Their medals are something for them to rightfully brag about, and their participation brings recognition to the entire state and the East Coast region. 

GSWGA would like to congratulate some of our East Coast neighbors who join our wineries in some of the highest honors of the SFCWC. ADD LINKS 

  • Keuka Spring Vineyards, Finger Lakes, NY: 2021 Vignoles—Best of Class; 2021 Gewurztraminer—Best of Class; 2021 Humphrey’s Vineyard Riesling—Best of Class.
  • Kontokosta Winery, North Fork of Long Island, NY: 2021 Viogner—Best of Class.
  • Peconic Bay Vineyards, North Fork of Long Island, NY: 2020 Chardonnay.
  • Black Dog Wine Company, Pennsylvania: NV Trophy Wife White Native American/Hybrid Blend—Double Gold. 

(Best of Class indicates a wine was the best example in its category.)

For a full list of all the medals awarded in the SFCWC, and to see which of our neighboring states also brought home gold, silver, and bronze medals, see the Full List of Medal Winners.

Make sure you’re following us on Facebook and Instagram because we’ll be highlighting the Double Gold winning wines. 

© 2024 Garden State Wine Growers Association Supported in part by a grant from the NJ Department of State, Division of Travel and Tourism
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