About the judges...
Rick Fraga is a wine educator with 25 years of experience under his belt, and currently acts as tasting room lead for Madrone Estate. He is also a seasoned wine competition judge, most recently judging the San Francisco Chronicle and Lake County Wine Competitions. Denise Gill’s wine industry background spans over 22 years, and she currently works with Alexander Valley Vineyards. She is also an experienced judge, serving on panels at the California State Fair, El Dorado and SF Chronicle competitions.
How it works:
The competition was held on a sunny day in March at the gorgeous Soda Rock Vineyards estate. It took around 5 hours for 9 judges to judge all 239 wines and declare the Best of Show, Best in Class, Double Gold, Gold, and Silver winners. The format was double blind, meaning that neither the judges or wine director Bob Ecker knew which wines were being tasted, only the category. And while you might think that wine competitions are overly serious, the Rosé Today judging is “California style,” meaning the judges are not forbidden from discussing the wine, although Denise explains, “Generally during our judging we are silent marking down our awards, and then after that our judge coordinator asks us for our awards, and then we talk amongst ourselves.”
And now let’s get to the important part: the wine!
About the Rosé Today entrants, Rick shares, “We started out with the domestic wines, quite a sizable pool – over 170. Really interesting, a lot of diversity, and we were all asking the varietals because there are so many different varietals now being made into rosé in more of a dry style. It’s about time – the industry has really caught up with what’s happening in Europe.” Speaking of diversity, Denise adds, “I love the diversity because we start with the dry rosés and then move into the sweet, and then they are also separated between domestic and international.” The international category this year grew from 2017, and Rick hopes it will continue to expand in coming years: “We had amazing [international] wines, a fair amount of double golds, which just showed how impressed we were.” As for his hopes on the reception of rosé here at home in the U.S.? Rick is optimistic: “Rosé is huge in Europe, and it’s starting to grow in the U.S. People are just starting to learn the value of it.” Denise agrees, sharing that rosé is “a very diverse wine – you can have it as an aperitif, or it goes great with barbecue too.” When it comes to food pairings, Rick has no shortage of ideas, adding: “It’s a great summer wine – a food wine. Rosé is a great wine for holiday meals: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, when people are doing hams and turkey.”
We happen to agree: rosé isn’t just for lazy summer days poolside – it pairs best with every day. And as for the future of rosé? Rick sums up our sentiments quite accurately: “This is a great competition and I hope it grows, because it will give people the opportunity to learn more and hopefully add rosé as something a little more regular in their cellar.” Cheers to that.