The 2023 Sonoma County Harvest Fair: A Tribute to Outstanding Sonoma Wines

Nestled in the heart of California's premier grape-growing region, the Sonoma County Harvest Fair takes center stage, celebrating the essence of Sonoma's finest wines. With 18 judges representing diverse backgrounds in the wine and hospitality industry, including trade, education, and writing, this annual event stands as a beacon of excellence in the wine world. Over two intense days, these experts meticulously evaluate over 900 wines, all crafted from grapes grown in the lush vineyards of Sonoma County. The Harvest Fair's primary objective is to kindle both local and national recognition for Sonoma County's premium wines. Additionally, it showcases the region's innovative cuisine through professional food competitions. 

While enjoying a national spotlight, the Sonoma County Harvest Fair maintains its distinctive local character, embodying the very essence of this wine-rich region. The great thing is when you order wine online from the best wine store California, you will find these wines available. The grand finale of this celebration is the Grand Tasting, an event where more than 1,500 wine enthusiasts have the opportunity to savor the Gold and Best of Class wines. Patrons can also immerse themselves in the timeless tradition of grape stomping, a World Champion Grape Stomps event held in conjunction with the Grand Tasting. 

In a remarkable twist, this year's sweepstakes awards were dominated by family-owned wineries. Wilson Winery of Healdsburg and Fritz Underground Winery of Cloverdale claimed top honors in the red and white wine categories, respectively. The Wilson Winery's 2021 Zinfandel Reserve from Dry Creek Valley was a standout red wine bottle, while the Fritz 2021 Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley offered a delightful white wine option. De La Montanya Winery, located in Healdsburg, clinched the top specialty wine award with its Twisted Jill 2020 Blanc de Blancs Sparkling Wine from the Russian River Valley. 

What makes these awards even more impressive is that both Fritz and De La Montanya have previously tasted the sweet victory of a Harvest Fair sweepstakes award, harking back to the roots of the Harvest Fair Wine Competition, which dates to 1979. 

"These are the best of the best in our world-class grape-growing region of Sonoma County," says Sheila Quince, a professional wine coordinator for the Harvest Fair Wine Competition. "All the wines in the contest are produced from Sonoma County grapes." 

The excitement reaches its climax at the Awards Gala, where around 250 eager attendees gather to witness the unveiling of the wine competition winners. This exclusive event, held at Saralee & Richard's Barn, features the announcement of Sweepstakes, Best of Class, Double Gold, and Gold winners. The complete list of these champions is made available on the Harvest Fair's website and is also published in The Press Democrat. 

This year, the competition received 964 entries from 126 labels, a slight increase from the previous year's 935 entries from 124 labels. The unveiling of the winners at the gala has become a cherished tradition, marking the culmination of the harvest season. 

One remarkable standout in this year's competition was Diane Wilson, co-vintner and winemaker, who clinched her seventh sweepstakes award, a feat that commands respect and admiration. Her Wilson Winery's 2021 Zinfandel Reserve was the highest-scoring red this year, continuing her legacy of excellence with this varietal. Her winery empire in Sonoma County includes Wilson, Pezzi King, Matrix, Coyote Sonoma, deLorimier, Greenwood Ridge, Jaxon Keys, Mazzocco Sonoma, Rockpile, Soda Rock, and St. Anne's Crossing. Her background in biochemistry from San Diego State, though not in enology, has undoubtedly played a significant role in her winemaking journey. 

In the realm of white wines, the top-ranking chardonnay was produced at Fritz's winemaking facility, nestled into a hillside in Dry Creek Valley. Vintner Clay Fritz attributes his winery's success to his father, Arthur Fritz, who foresaw the importance of the winery's subterranean design, built in the late 1970s. This is the second time Fritz has won top honors; in 1995, the winery, formerly named J. Fritz, secured the sweepstakes red with a zinfandel. 

De La Montanya, a boutique winery deeply rooted in Sonoma County, impressed with its sparkling wine. This family, with a wine journey spanning six generations, founded the winery in 1995, planting pinot noir, chardonnay, and viognier grapes. This wasn't the first time De La Montanya produced the highest ranking wine; their pinot noir had previously secured the sweepstakes red award in 2007. 

The public can have a taste of this year's sweepstakes winners and other top-scoring wines at Bottle Barn, your local Sonoma wine retailer. This is a unique opportunity to savor the wines that stood out in this highly competitive competition when you buy wine online. 

What sets the Harvest Fair Wine Competition apart is its commitment to showcasing the exceptional quality of wines produced from Sonoma County grapes. The fact that nearly a quarter of the entries receive Gold, Double Gold, or Best of Class awards is a testament to the high caliber of wines originating from this region. In comparison, national contests typically honor only 12% to 18% of entrants with their top awards. 

As contest coordinator Bob Fraser aptly puts it, "There's a higher percentage of winners in the Harvest Fair Wine Competition than in most competitions, thanks to the higher quality wines produced from Sonoma County grapes." This competition not only highlights the excellence of Sonoma wines but also celebrates the art of winemaking that has been nurtured in this region for generations.

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