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Bragging Rights: New LWA Program To Judge Best County Wines

© Leesburg Today - 06/24/2015

The Loudoun Wineries Association has come up with an innovative awards and education program to highlight the depth and breadth of Loudoun's wine industry.

LWA Chairman Mark Fedor said the inaugural Loudoun Wine Awards is not so much a wine contest as a way to showcase the quality of Loudoun's wine and to provide a comprehensive educational component for winemakers as a way to keep improving its quality.

""We're addressing it and publicizing what we do well here,"" said Fedor, who, with his wife Vicki, owns Northgate Vineyard near Purcellville,

What is striking about the Loudoun project is the comprehensive approach the association is taking. The group has restructured recently, gaining more members and forming an educational committee.

""We want to improve and build the quality of our wines and show what's good and what's bad,"" Fedor said.

To that end, winemakers will be invited to enter their wines in the awards program, which will be judged by panels comprising industry professionals and consumers. The strength of that approach lies in combining what the professional winemaker assesses is the quality and strength of a wine with the opinion of those who buy wine.

The awards are timed to coincide with Visit Loudoun's Epicurience Virginia celebration of the county's food and wine, to be held Sept. 4-6 at Morven Park in Leesburg.

The two-part judging format starts with the Winemakers' Evaluation round, in which winemaker panels will determine which of the submitted wines will go on to the final judging round.

The winemaker round will be moderated by retired Virginia Tech enologist Bruce Zoecklein, who will provide the educational component. The state enologist has been a driving force in enology education during his 20-year career, advising and training winemakers on technological aspects of wine production throughout Virginia. Zoecklein and the winemaker panels will discuss the wines with a view as to how they could be improved.

The second part of the program adds the consumer's views. Fedor said wineries are being asked to submit names of known customers and 10 to 12 people will be drawn at random to judge the entries. The consumer judges will receive two to four hours of training and then join a selection of professionals to determine the medal-winning wines through a blind tasting process.

The judging will take place prior to Epicurience, so the results can be announced at the awards gala, which will kick off the three-day festival. The top-scoring wine will win the Chairman's Grand Award. The Chairman's Reserve Award will go to the top scoring wine using 100 percent Loudoun grapes. Gold and silver medals and best in category awards also will be presented.

The Sept. 3 awards presentation will be held at the National Conference Center. Cost of the gala is $60 per person. The winning wines will be paired with food selections, and will be promoted during Epicurience, the Nov. 18-20 Wine Tourism Conference, and at other county public events throughout the year.

This year will be the first time the Wine Tourism Conference will be held on the East Coast, and is considered a coup for the Virginia Tourism Corporation and Visit Loudoun, which secured the Loudoun debut. Previously, the Wine Tourism Conference has been held in Napa and Sonoma, CA, and Portland, OR.

Fedor said the National Conference Center has been a great supporter, and he looked forward to continued promotion of Loudoun wines by Visit Loudoun and the county.

For more information, contact Fedor at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or Don Kinnan,

LWA organizing committee, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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