A Back-to-Back "Wine of the Year" Winner and "Winemaker of the Year" Announced
(April 2023) - I've been involved with wine competitions for many years - going back to the late 1980s - and I don't recall a wine from consecutive vintages winning a Wine of the Year award in two consecutive competitions. That feat was accomplished at the 15th Annual Winemaker Challenge, and it's an acheivement made all the more remarkable by the fact that the same vineyard source has produced two different blends that reached the same high score. Major kudos to winemaker Jimmy Zanoli for bringing the 2019 Bella Luna Estate Riserva from Carly's Vineyard in Paso Robles to life in a different but equally compelling iteration as the 2018 that took top honors last year.
Speaking of winemakers, Winemaker Challenge's Winemaker of the Year award goes to someone that has delivered extremely high quality wine at serious value prices for decades up in Anderson Valley - an idyllic place that still maintains that easy wine country vibe. Navarro Vineyards' Jim Klein does it all, from stellar renditions of Alsatian varieties to cool climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. That would be enough for most winemakers, but there's plenty more in the portfolio, from Barbera to Zinfandel and just about everything in between - I believe there's even a Malbec headed for release soon. Any way you slice it, to end up with the top "slugging percentage" in a blind judging by your industry peers is a distinct honor. We're proud to recognize Jim's long career with this award, which includes Chief Judge status at the 2024 Winemaker Challenge.
Thanks for visiting us here at WinemakerChallenge.com. I hope you take a few moments to peruse our results page, where you can view all of our medal winners, Director’s Awards, and reviews of Platinum Award winners. There are award-winning wines of all types and price ranges represented, and you’ll no doubt find some wines to discover as well as old favorites.
Thanks to all of our participating wineries – we look forward to celebrating your achievements again in April 2024 at the 16th annual Winemaker Challenge.
Rich Cook, Competition Director