The Jefferson Cup Invitational has celebrated its tenth year as the only competition that honors the best of the best among wineries from all of America’s wine regions. Each year we select great wines from across America; the 2009 competition included wines from twenty-three states. At the end of the second day of this year’s tasting, November 20th, wines from SIX different states had captured top honors. Just as the event’s namesake would have it, democracy reigned at this year’s Jefferson Cup Wine Competition.
The two-day competition culminated with the awarding of FIFTEEN Jefferson Cup Awards. Jefferson Cups were awarded to wines made from both vinifera vines (a European species responsible for most famous wines such as Chardonnay and Cabernet) and non-vinifera vines, which flourish in the more extreme climates in the center portion of the U.S.
These fifteen prestigious Jefferson Cups were awarded this year to six white wines, eight red wines and one dessert wine. While many competitions insist upon selecting a pre-ordained number of sweepstakes winners, our judges are allowed to find the top wines, whether there are only one, two or three, or even NO winners in some categories, as happened this year. Indeed this year, there was no rosé or sparkling wine winner, though a number of those wines won awards. Best of all, there were once again great examples of wine, both from vinifera and non-vinifera grapes. Together with sixty-three other wines nominated for (but not awarded) the Jefferson Cup, these fifteen wines represent some of the most compelling wines made in America.
This year’s Jefferson Cup competition saw some very notable developments and successes. Two wineries, St. James Winery (Missouri) and Imagine Moore (New York) won TWO Jefferson Cups each, the first time this has happened in a single year. And although many expect California to dominate the awards, multiple Jefferson Cups were won by four states: Washington, Missouri, New York and California each won multiple Jefferson Cups for their wineries. And Nebraska and Colorado each have their first Jefferson Cup. Nebraska’s James Arthur Vineyards won the state’s first Jefferson Cup for its Edelweiss, and Boulder Creek won Colorado’s first Jefferson Cup for its Bordeaux-styled blend, VIP Reserve 2006.
As in years past, the West Coast was well represented. Four reds from California won; two Washington State wineries won a cup as well. In another remarkable victory, Mitch Cosentino won a Jefferson Cup again this year; last year he won an astounding three Jefferson Cups. And Missouri had a very successful year: Stone Hill and Augusta Winery each won a Jefferson Cup while St. James Winery won two Cups. Other notable winners included Cakebread Cellars’ beautiful Dancing Bear Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 and Amavi Cellars Syrah from the famous les Collines Vineyard in Walla Walla Valley.
In the past years, the Jefferson Cup seems to have focused upon Syrah or Cabernet, but this year, there was greater diversity of wines, though vinifera grapes dominated among the red wines. I am very pleased with the way the Jefferson Cup Invitational competition has developed. We had a representation of the best of what every quality wine producing region in the country is offering right now, including improved representation from Washington, Michigan, Virginia and Texas as well as some standout wines from California, New York and Oregon. Michigan and Colorado wines rose to the top of the pack this year and New York State wineries leaped ahead too.
In most other competitions there is ‘open’ seating and California represents 90% of the entries. As a result it usually captures 90% of the honors. I can now foresee a time when that will not happen. What we are doing is following Mr. Jefferson’s example and allowing every quality wine-producing region in America a place at our table. While many may know him from his well-chronicled statesman role, most Americans have no idea just how influential Jefferson was in the way we eat and drink and live today. To call Jefferson ahead of his time where food and wine are concerned is the ultimate understatement. Jefferson was growing grapes that did not really come into vogue in this country until 20 years ago.
Best of all, this year’s Jefferson Cup coincided with our fifth annual fundraiser for Angel Flight, a great charity that gives support for private pilots offering travel to indigent and needy medical emergencies. The Jefferson Cup fundraisers raised more than $90,000 for Angel Flight this year.
The 2009 JEFFERSON CUP winners are:
For White Vinifera Wine:
- Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling Eroica 2008 Columbia Valley
- Sheldrake Point Vineyards Gewurztraminer 2008 Finger Lakes
For White Non-Vinifera Wine:
- Imagine Moore Harmony 2008 Finger Lakes
- James Arthur Vineyards Edelweiss 2008 Nebraska
- St. James Winery Friendship School White nv
- Stone Hill Winery Vignoles 2008 Missouri
For Red Vinifera Wine:
- Amavi Cellars Syrah 2007 Les Collines Vineyard
- Boulder Creek VIP Reserve 2006 Colorado
- Cakebread Cellars Dancing Bear Ranch 2006 Howell Mountain
- Couples & Co. Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Napa Valley
- Michael – David Winery Earthquake Zin 2007 Lodi
- Rodney Strong Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Estate 2006 Alexander Valley
For Red Non-Vinifera Wine:
- Augusta Winery Norton Estate Bottled 2007 Augusta
- St. James Winery Velvet Red nv American
For Dessert Wine:
- Imagine Moore Framboise 2009 New York
For more information, go to The Jeffersion Cup Invitational web site.