Largest wine competition in U.S. begins today

By on January 8, 2013

The first major U.S. wine competition begins today. It’s also the largest judging of American wines in the nation.

San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

Judges are set up in preparation for the sweepstakes portion of the San Francisco Wine Competition in January 2012.

The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition takes place in the northern Sonoma County town of Cloverdale (it’s so close to Mendocino County, you can smell the marijuana). The Chron judging is formerly known as the Cloverdale Citrus Fair Wine Competition and included wines from the surrounding region when it launched in 1983.

In 2000, the San Francisco Chronicle became the competition’s title sponsor, and the judging has since taken off, expanding first to a statewide competition, then the West Coast and now nationwide.

That first competition in 1983 included just 45 wines. By 2007, it drew 4,913 entries, and last year, it expanded to more than 5,500 entries, making it the largest in the country.

The Pacific Northwest has always fared well at the Chronicle judging. In fact, Barnard Griffin in Richland, Wash., has won a gold medal for its rosé of Sangiovese for an astonishing seven consecutive years. And it has won best rosé for each of the last two years.

Northwest winners from 2012 wine competition

Also last year, the following Northwest wines won gold/best in class awards at the Chronicle judging:


The competition begins this morning, and the sweepstakes judging, which will involve more than 100 top wines, will conclude about 11 a.m. Friday. Soon after, we will begin reporting results here on Great Northwest Wine.

Public tasting

Also part of the Chronicle judging is the public tasting. This year, it is Saturday, Feb. 16, at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco in the northern Marina District east of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Tickets are $70 in advance and $85 at the door (don’t rely on any tickets being available at the door, as the event often is sold out).

About Andy Perdue

Andy Perdue is founding partner of Great Northwest Wine LLC and a longtime wine columnist. He is a third-generation journalist who has worked at newspapers since the mid-1980s and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest magazine with Eric Degerman and served as its editor-in-chief for 15 years. He is the author of "The Northwest Wine Guide: A Buyer's Handbook" (Sasquatch, 2003) and has contributed to four other books.

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