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Displaying items by tag: California State Fair

Wednesday, 20 June 2018 10:09

State Fair Announces Beer Awards

TASTE News Service, June 20, 2018 - After sorting through a record-setting number of 20128entries, the winners of the California State Fair Commercial Beer Competition have been decided.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018 12:43

State Fair Announces Wine Winners

TASTE News Service, April 11, 2018 – The California State Fair's Commercial Wine competition is the oldest such judging in the country and winning top honors is quite an achievement.

Saturday, 17 June 2017 17:48

State Fair Picks Best Beer in California

TASTE News Service, June 17, 2017 - After sorting through a record-setting number of entries, the winners of the California State Fair Commercial Beer Competition have been decided.

Saturday, 02 July 2016 12:53

California State Fair Honors the Best

Pooch State Fair Award PicmonkeyPooch (center) receives Lifetime Achievement Award


TASTE News Service July 2, 2016 – Friends of the California State Fair have presented their Lifetime Achievement Award to long-time wine consultant G.M. “Pooch” Pucilowski.

The organization also recognized a legendary Amador County property as Vineyard of the Year.

PoochPic 5 PicmonkeyG.M. "Pooch" PucilowskiTASTE News Service, March 31, 2016 – The California State Fair announced today that G.M. “Pooch” Pucilowski has been selected for the 2016 WINE LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD. Formal presentation will be made at the Friends of the California State Fair Gala, which will be held this year on Thursday, June 23.

A nationally-known wine educator and consultant, Pooch has devoted more than 30 years to the pursuit of educating consumers and trade members alike in all aspects of the wine industry. He has served as Chief Judge and Consultant to the California State Fair’s annual Commercial Wine Competition and has judged several of the most prestigious wine competitions throughout the country. He is widely regarded as a wine industry expert and has given lectures and seminars on the subject throughout North America. He is also President/Owner of the University of Wine, in which capacity he has trained restauranteurs, wholesalers/distributors, retailers, and winery personnel.

More information on Mr. Pucilowski can be found at

Gary Eberle photo Picmonkey

TASTE News Service March 5, 2015 – The California State Fair has announced that Gary Eberle,  founder of Eberle Winery, is being honored with the 2015 Wine Lifetime Achievement Award. Each year the California State Fair Winery Advisory Task Force puts forth recommendations and selects an honoree through an open meeting process. Gary Eberle joins the ranks of industry legends Robert Mondavi, Jerry Lohr, Mike Grgich, and Dr. Richard Peterson in receiving this prestigious honor.

“I’m honored to receive this recognition. I pursued wine enology because it fascinated me – the vineyard aspect of growing grapes and the technical art of making age-worthy wines. It’s taken me on a journey that I’m still enjoying today,” said Eberle.

Gary Eberle, who has worked for 42 years building the acclaim of the Paso Robles region through his brand, is affectionately known as the “Godfather” of the Paso Robles wine industry. He is the chief promoter for the winery and works with customers, distributors and restaurateurs to tout the virtues of the Paso Robles American Viticulture Area (AVA), which he help co-found in 1983.

Gary began his academic studies at Penn State College where he played football and earned a Bachelor’s of Science in biology. He then attended Louisiana State University before heading west to California. Gary received a degree in enology from U.C. Davis in 1971. “I chose Paso Robles based on Dr. Olmo’s recommendation that Paso Robles was the place to grow world-class Cabernet Sauvignon,” said Eberle, “And I think we’ve achieved that.”

Once in Paso Robles, the former Nittany Lion launched his career as partner and winemaker with Estrella River Winery & Vineyards. In the late 70s, he decided to pursue his own project and acquired nearly 64 acres just down the road from Estrella River Winery. Shortly thereafter, Gary released his first Eberle wine, the 1979 Cabernet Sauvignon and opened the winery and tasting room in 1983.

His contributions to the California wine trade are significant. Eberle Winery’s Cabernet Sauvignon was the first wine to place the Paso Robles AVA designation on its label. Gary Eberle was also the first to plant Syrah on the Central Coast and make a 100 percent Syrah varietal wine in the United States. These milestones have proven to be important, as both Syrah and Paso Robles have become significant forces in California’s wine industry.

The State Fair awards, which also include Winery of the Year, Vineyard of the Year and Agriculturalist of the Year, will be formally awarded at the State Fair Gala on June 25 at Cal Expo in Sacramento. The California State Fair takes place July 10 – 26, 2015 in Sacramento.


Editor’s note: If you’re planning to visit Eberle of any of the wineries in the Paso Robles AVA, first check out the Central Coast listings in Taste California Travel’s Resource Directory. There you will find links to websites of all the Wineries, as well as links to hundreds of nearby Lodging and Dining options.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014 14:56

State Fair Announces Wine, Cheese Winners

Guinness McFadden pours PicmonkeyGuinness McFadden pours his sparkler

TASTE News Service Sacramento, CA June 25, 2014 - The California State Fair has announced winners of its 2014 Commercial Wine Competition. First held in 1855, the State Fair Wine Competition is the oldest and one of the most prestigious wine events in the country.

A total of 2,829 entries were received from 746 participating winery brands this year. Seventy-four judges on 18 panels awarded 2,068 medals, including 52 Double Gold, 217 Gold, 1,085 Silver and 714 Bronze.

Chief Judges Mike Dunne and Rick Kushman presented awards to winners at an industry tasting held yesterday afternoon at the fairgrounds in Sacramento. Honors for Best of Show Red went to Sterling Vineyards for its 2010 Platinum Cabernet Sauvignon. Best of Show White was taken by Carol Shelton Wines for their 2012 Coquille Blanc. Other Best of Show category winners included McFadden Vineyard for their NV Cuvée Brut (Sparkling), Pedroncelli Winery for their 2013 Zinfandel Signature Selection (Pink) and Navarro Vineyards for their 2013 Late Harvest Riesling (Dessert).

Bleating Heart cheese table PicmonkeyBleating Heart reps discuss their cheeseThe cheese competition is a more recent innovation but seems a natural complement to the wine judging. Bleating Heart Cheese of Tomales in western Marin County was awarded Best of Show & Best of Division in two areas. Their Fat Bottom Girl took top honors in the Soft Hard Category (Sheep) and Moolicious Blue did likewise in the Semi-Soft Cheese Category (Cow).


Notes from the Publisher . . .

The afternoon was good opportunity to do a bit of sampling and meet some of the wine makers and cheese makers providing tastes of their medal winners. It was also a great opportunity to visit with many old friends and acquaintances who've been fixtures around the wine business for the three decades Taste Calfornia Travel and its predecessors have been covering California's wine scene.

Greg Boeger with Barbera PicmonkeyGreg Boeger with state's best BarberaAt 77 years old Jerry Lohr is almost a legend in Monterey County. He has (somewhat) relinquished the reins to the next generation, but still seems as busy as ever (He mentioned that a friend commented that he's reduced his work week from 100 hours to just 90.). Much of that time is spent in promoting the health of not just his own winery, but of California's entire wine industry. Jerry's 2012 Falcon's Perch from J. Lohr Estates was selected as the state's best Pinot Noir

Greg Boeger is one of the pioneer El Dorado County winemakers and was proudly pouring samples of his Estate Bottled 2011 Barbera, judged the best example of that variety in California. I noticed Jack Clara who was pouring the Wente Vineyards 2012 Riva Ranch Chardonnay, which had just picked up a Gold medal. We chatted a bit and I told Jack that I'd just been in Livermore earlier that same day to interview Carolyn Wente for an upcoming article in American Vineyard. Jack started with the winery way back in 1954. Though already retired, he still helps out with tastings such as this one. Carol Shelton has a huge reputation for Zinfandel, but proved she has a deft hand with other varietals as her 2012 Coquille Blanc won a Double Gold and was chosen Best White Wine of the Show. Her husband Mitch Mackenzie told me that Carol had also gotten great notice at a recent San Diego Wine Judging for another wine in her non-Zinfandel portfolio.

But my afternoon wasn't just a reunion of old friends. One of the winemakers and growers I met for the first time was Guinness McFadden whose non-vintage Cuvée Brut got a Double Gold and accolade as the Best Sparkling Wine of the Show.

Gregory Ahn and Riesling with D Corti PicmonkeyGregory Ahn talks Riesling with Darrell Corti  Pedroncelli is another storied name in California. Their 2013 Zinfandel Signature Selection, a dry rosé wine, won a Double Gold and Best of Show nod in the “Pink” category. Gold medals are nothing new to this family-run operation in Sonoma County. Ed St. John said that they've been making this style of rosé for a long time and first garnered a gold medal for it at a county fair in 1955. Mitch Blakeley would like to display that medal, but commented that his grandfather, Jim Pedroncelli, put it in such a secure location nobody's been able to find it

Attracted by a bottle bearing a stark label, I later stopped to taste State of Art 2011 Arroyo Seco Riesling. Winemaker Greg Ahn explained that the soils in the Mission Ranch Vineyard near Monterey's Santa Lucia Highlands region contributes to a minerality rarely found in California Rielsings. The wine was awarded a Double Gold and was judged Best White Wine of the North Central Coast.

Though Tuesday afternoon's event was not open to the general public, State Fair visitors will be able to taste many of these medal winners, including Best of Region and Best of California winners, at the Save Mart Supermarkets Wine Garden July 11-27.

South Coast Jim Carter PicmonkeyJim Carter. proprietor of South Coast Winery (left), accepts his Winery of the Year Award from Wesley Chesbro, Chairmman of the Assembly Select Committee on Wine, and Noreen Evans, Chair of the Senate Select Committee on California's Wine Industry.

Sacramento, CA June 25, 2013. Chief Judges Rick Kushman and Mike Dunne joined representatives of state government this morning in announcing winners of California's State Fair wine competition. Originally scheduled to take place on the west steps of the Capitol Building, ceremonies were moved to a conference room indoors because of the most unseasonal summer rains.

South Coast Winery from Temecula was named Golden State Winery of the Year in recognition of winning the greatest number of medals by a single winery. Best of Show among all red wines entered was the 2010 Cabernet Franc from Sonoma County's Imagery Estate Winery. Best of Show for whites was a sparkling wine, the non-vintage Blanc de Noirs, Méthode Champenoise of Korbel, also located in Sonoma. Barefoot Cellars non-vintage Moscato was picked as Best Value, while the Cluster Select Late Harvest 2012 Gewürztraminer of Mendocino County winery Navarro Vineyards was deemed the Best of Show from the dessert category.

Visitors to the State Fair (July 12 to July 28) can enjoy many of the winning wines, including the Best of California selections, in the Save Mart Supermarkets Wine Garden.These wines can also be experienced at California’s Grape & Gourmet, a wine and food event, at Cal Expo on Thursday, August 22. Tickets are on sale now at

Other wines selected from among the 2600 entries as Best of California 2013 in their categories include:

Cabernet Sauvignon, Shed Horn Cellars, Lake County, 2010, 98 points, $29

Chardonnay, Rutherford Ranch, Napa Valley, 2011, 98 points, $16

Pinot Noir, Rodney Strong Vineyards, Estate Vineyards, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, 2011, 98 points, $25

Zinfandel, Macchia Winery, Adventurous, Linsteadt Vineyards, Amador County, Lodi, 2011, 94 points, $26

Barbera, Cardella Winery, Fattoria Cardella – L‘aquedotto Vineyard, Mendota, 2010, 94 points, $17

Sauvignon Blanc, Schug Winery, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County, 2012, 98 points, $20

Pinot Grigio, CRU Wine Company, Arroyo Seco, Madera, 2012, 98 points, $18

Malbec, Fenestra Winery, Ghielmetti Vineyard, Livermore, 2009, 94 points, $28

Merlot, Oak Grove Winery, Reserve, California appellation, Alamo, 2011, 98 points, $7.99

Petite Sirah, Chacewater Wine, Red Hills, Lake County, 2010, 94 points, $21

Tempranillo, Red Soles Winery, Paso Robles, 2011, 98 points, $32

Syrah, Crystal Basin Cellars, Reserve, El Dorado County, 2010, 98 points, $24

Cabernet Franc, Imagery Estate, Sonoma County, 2010, 98 points, $39

Bordeaux Red Blend, Halter Ranch, Ancestor, Estate Reserve, Paso Robles, 2010, 95 points, $50

Sangiovese (tie), Boeger Winery, El Dorado County, 2009, 94 points, $15

Sangiovese (tie), Windwalker, Estate Bottled, El Dorado County, 2010, 94 points, $22Imagery Estate Winery Mike BenzigerJoe Benziger accepts Best of Show-Red for his Imagery Estate Cabernet Franc

Gewürztraminer, South Coast Winery, Carter Estate Vineyards, Temecula Valley, 2012, 98 points, $14

Riesling, Trinchero Family Estates, Wine Cube, California Appellation, Napa Valley, 2012, 98 points, $16.99

Sparkling Wine, Korbel, Blanc de Noirs, Methode Champenoise, Sonoma County, non-vintage, 98 points, $11

Rose, Chacewater Wine, Sierra Foothills, Lake County, 2012, 94 points, $14.99

Fortified Wine, Pedroncelli Winery, Vintage Port, Sonoma County,   2008, 95 points, $19

Muscat, Barefoot Wine Cellars, Moscato, California Appellation, Modesto, non-vintage, 98 points, $6.99

Other White Varietal, Dancing Coyote Gruner Veltliner (Estate Grown), Clarksburg, 2012, 96 points, $11.99

Other Red Varietal, Michael David Tannat (Inkblot), Lodi, 2010, 94 points, $35

Red Varietal Blend, Imagery Estate, Pallas, Sonoma Valley, Sonoma County, 98 points, $65

Red Generic Blend, Coppola Rosso & Bianco, Rosso, California   Appellation, Sonoma County, 2011, 94 points, $11

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