CLOVERDALE, Calif. -- North America's largest wine competition is in the books, and Northwest wines showed their mettle with lots of medals.
The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, held in this northern Sonoma County town, drew a record 5,825 entries from more than 1,500 wineries across 25 states. This makes it the largest judging of American wines -- and the biggest wine competition held on the continent.
Barnard Griffin Winery in Richland brought home one of the competition's biggest prizes, winning best pink wine for its 2013 Rosé of Sangiovese, a $13 wine that will be released in mid-February. This is the eighth time in nine years that owner Rob Griffin's ros has won a gold medal or better at the Chronicle competition. Last year was the sole exception, when the 2012 edition won a silver medal.
Ellen Landis, one of the country's top wine judges, called the rosé "absolutely stunning. Its gorgeous aromatics drive you into the glass." Landis is owner of Landis Shores, a luxury bed and breakfast in Half Moon Bay, Calif.
Barnard Griffin also won gold for its 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon ($17).
Swiftwater Cellars near Cle Elum, won two best-of-class awards during the judging: the 2012 No. 9 Riesling ($18) and 2010 Malbec ($38). That's a great showing for the winery, which had never entered the judging. Linda Trotta came from Sonoma County's renowned Gundlach Bundschu Winery to make Swiftwater's wines. Her 2009 Proprietary Blend ($50), a red wine, also won a unanimous double gold medal. And Swiftwater's 2010 Pinot Noir ($55) made with Oregon grapes, earned a gold medal.
Overall, 10 Northwest wines earned best-of-class honors, meaning they were considered the top wine in their classification group. Classification groups are typically broken down by grape variety and price or residual sugar.
Other best-in-class winners from the Northwest included:
-- Basel Cellars in Walla Walla, for its 2012 Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc ($18).
-- Grace Lane, a label for an Illinois wine company, for its 2012 Riesling using Yakima Valley grapes ($11).
-- Locati Cellars in Walla Walla for its 2010 Innovation red blend ($20).
-- Malaga Springs Winery in Malaga, for its 2012 Chenin Blanc ($15).
-- Marchesi Vineyards in Hood River, Ore., for its 2012 Emma Sangiovese ($28).
-- Mount Baker Vineyards in Everson, for its 2012 Madeleine Angevine ($17).
-- Woodward Canyon Winery in Lowden, for its 2012 Chardonnay ($44). Woodward Canyon also won a double gold medal for its 2011 Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon ($59).
-- Abacela, a winery near Roseburg, Ore., won double gold medals for its 2012 Viognier ($22) and 2009 South East Block Reserve Tempranillo ($50)
-- Maryhill Winery in Goldendale, won five gold medals and 32 medals overall.
-- The top Idaho wine was Clearwater Canyon in Lewiston, which won a gold medal for its 2011 Carmnre ($28).
The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition is in its 30th year. It began as the Cloverdale Citrus Fair Wine Competition and was open to wineries in 20-mile radius of the town of Cloverdale, which included wineries in Sonoma and Mendocino counties. It eventually expanded to include wineries from throughout California, then the West Coast and now the entire country.
The San Francisco Chronicle newspaper has been the naming sponsor for the competition for more than a dozen years, and its name recognition has been a major factor in the growth of the judging. BevMo, a large wine retailer in California and Washington, is the competition's presenting sponsor.
A public tasting that includes hundreds of the competition's medal-winning wines will take place Saturday, Feb. 15, at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco. Tickets are $65.
A full list of all Northwest medal winners is at www.greatnorthwestwine.com. The complete list of all winning wines is at www.winejudging.com.
Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue run Great Northwest Wine, a news and information company.