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2014 Press Release

For Immediate Release


May 12, 2014


Competition Inquiries

Contact: Debra Del Fiorentino, Director of Wine Competitions

Vineyard & Winery Management

Phone: 707.577.7700 x109



To Reach The Press Democrat

Contact: Cindy Butner, Marketing Director

Phone: 707.526.8577




Results Are In for the 2014 Press Democrat North Coast Wine Challenge


W.H. Smith Wines, Pinot Noir, 2010, Proprietor’s Reserve, California, Sonoma Coast takes “Best of the Best of the Best”


Santa Rosa, Calif. – From the heart of North Coast wine country, Vineyard & Winery Management magazine (V&WM) and The Press Democrat have concluded the second North Coast Wine Challenge, a wine competition focused exclusively on wines produced in this prestigious region. A total of 167 gold medals were awarded medals from a field of nearly 900 eligible entries.


In the good nature of competitive spirit and ultimate bragging rights, this challenge rated wines produced and bottled by wineries only in North Coast AVAs. The challenge was created to highlight the best of each county and ultimately, the entire region. The North Coast served as its own jury in the decision-making, with competition judges representing only the best North Coast sommeliers, winemakers, retail buyers and media.


"Wines were designated the ranking of Best of Class by Category, Best of County, and ultimately the Best of the Best as top award” explained Debra Del Fiorentino, Director of Wine Competitions for V&WM. “Judging was rigorous and not all counties achieved highest marks.  Only wines rating 90+ points were awarded gold medals and were eligible to the ‘Best Of’ Category.”


Top winners include:




W.H. Smith Wines, Pinot Noir, 2010, Proprietor's Reserve, California, Sonoma Coast, 98 points.  Tasting notes include “rare to find, the Best- Best- Best! Flavors of Intense Black Raspberry”.





BEST OF NAPA COUNTY:  Don Sebastiani & Sons, B Side, Red Blend, 2010, 49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23%Merlot, 16% Syrah, 11% Petit Verdot,1% Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley (AVA), 98 points


BEST OF SONOMA COUNTY:  W.H. Smith Wines, Pinot Noir, 2010, Proprietor's Reserve, California, Sonoma Coast, 98 points


BEST OF MENDOCINO COUNTY:  Husch Vineyards, Gewurztraminer, 2013, Late Harvest, Estate Bottled, Anderson Valley, 96 points


BEST OF LAKE COUNTY:  Shannon Ridge Family of Wines, Dalliance, Red Wine, 2011, 41% Zinfandel, 24% Syrah, 12% Barbera, 11% Tempranillo, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Grenache, Lake County, 97 points





BEST SPARKLING WINE:  Domaine Carneros by Taittinger, Brut Rose, 2010, Brut Rose, 100% Organic and Estate Grown 74% Pinot Noir, 26% Chardonnay, Carneros, 96 points


BEST WHITE WINE:  Charles Creek Vineyard, Chardonnay, 2010, Russian River Valley, 98 points


BEST ROSE:   Kokomo Winery, Grenache Rose, 2013, Pauline's Vineyard, Estate, Dry Creek Valley, 95 points


BEST RED:   W.H. Smith Wines, Pinot Noir, 2010, Proprietor’s Reserve, California, Sonoma Coast, 98 points


BEST DESSERT/LATE HARVEST:  Husch Vineyards, Gewurztraminer, 2013, Late Harvest, Estate Bottled, Anderson Valley, 96 points


Daryl Groom led the exclusive event for its second year. “The success and prestige of this challenge continues to grow and personally delight me. The 2014 judging was fantastic. I am proud to be associated with it as chief judge,” said Groom.  Groom's expertise includes serving as wine judge in more than 150 wine shows across the United States, and he has made many award-winning wines in California's North Coast and his native Australia. He was named Winemaker of the Year by eight publications, including the San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles Times.


Added Groom, “Judges were very, very impressed with the extremely high quality of the wines. 167 gold medals were given, representing 19% of the wines entered. I don’t believe any other competition in the USA can boast this quality level. It’s a testament to our talented North Coast winemakers and a reflection of the world class grape growing conditions we are blessed with.”


Winners will be announced in the Food and Wine section of The Press Democrat on Wednesday, May 14.  "The PD is the Redwood Empire’s leading newspaper and continues to serve as the ideal media partner for this North Coast judging.  We share a similar vision and through this ongoing partnership we are able to ensure consumer exposure for award-winning wines through local media,” said Robert Merletti, CEO and President of V&WM.


The Press Democrat will host an invitational tasting on June 15 at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, which will feature a selection of medal-winning wines from the North Coast Wine Challenge.  "This competition is about quality.  No matter if a wine sells for under $20 per bottle or over $75, the winners are all superior and will be available to taste at our event ,” said Steve Falk, CEO of Sonoma Media Investments, owners of The Press Democrat.  For more details about the tasting, contact Cindy Butner, Marketing Director for The Press Democrat (see contact information above) or visit for full details.


Award winners will be posted at,,,, and


Judging event sponsors include Penta Water, Wine Country Shipping, Alsco, Graber Olives, Sonoma Wine Country Hilton, Costeaux French Bakery, Sjaak’s Organic Chocolates, Big River Coffee Company, Lagunitas Brewing Company, Spring Hill Jersey Cheese, Pasta Sonoma, Old Chatham Ranch, Russian River Fine Foods, Revive, Sift, Chris’s Stuff, Trader Joe’s, Bottle Barn, Vino Chapeau, Sonoma Syrup Company, and Sonoma Gourmet.


About Vineyard & Winery Management

Based in Santa Rosa, Calif., Vineyard & Winery Management is an independently owned and operated multimedia company that produces an international wine trade publication, conferences, trade shows and wine competitions. The family-owned company publishes Vineyard & Winery Management magazine, which has the highest circulation of any North American wine trade publication. V&WM's conferences and trade shows include Wineries + Breweries Unlimited and the Midwest Grape & Wine + Craft Brew Conference. Its wine competitions include The Press Democrat North Coast Wine Challenge, Grand Harvest Awards, East Meets West (formerly International Eastern Wine Competition and West Coast Wine Competition), International Women's Wine Competition, International Wine Channel TV Awards, and U.S. National Wine Competition. See for more information.


About The Press Democrat

Based in Santa Rosa, Calif. , The Press Democrat is the North Bay's most-read provider of up-to-the-minute local news. It is a recognized leader in the development of highly effective integrated media solutions for its business clients. The Press Democrat is owned by the recently formed Sonoma Media Investments LLC, a multimedia company that provides world-class local news, information and entertainment to audiences throughout San Francisco's North Bay. See and for more information.

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