March 8, 2019

Recap: 2019 Governor’s Cup Competition

Last Tuesday, the 36th annual Governor’s Cup Competition culminated at Richmond’s historic Main Street Station. There, the top 12 scoring wines were revealed, and after weeks of anticipation, the Governor’s Cup winner was announced.

For those that love Virginia Wine, the Governor’s Cup Competition is a well-known fixture of the region’s winemaking scene. Here, we will recap the competition itself, its longstanding importance, and the evening of the Governor’s Cup Gala.

The Competition

The first Governor’s Cup Competition took place in 1982, during Virginia Wine Week in August. In 1988, the competition was moved to October, to coincide with the newly formed Virginia Wine Month. Eventually, the competition was moved to the first of the year and revamped to be one of the most stringent and thorough wine competitions in the United States.

All wines entered into the competition must be made with 100% Virginia fruit, and include an affidavit with a certification of 100 percent Virginia fruit and vineyard particulars. Judging is done in two rounds and wrapped up by the end of January. Learn more about the competition here.

This year, over 500 wines were submitted for judging — a record number of entries. 68 gold medals were awarded to 37 wineries.

The Judges

Governor’s Cup Competition judges come from across the Eastern seaboard (and far beyond, when you include Steven Spurrier’s journey across the pond). This group includes Masters of Wine, wine educators, wine scholars, food and wine writers, sommeliers, distributors, and retailers. To learn more about the judges, click here.

The competition is headed by Jay Youmans, one of 52 Masters of Wine in the United States, and one of two in the Washington, DC area. Speaking about the competition, Jay says, “The format for the Virginia Governor’s Cup® makes it one of the preeminent wine competitions in the U.S today,” said Youmans. “The competition will serve notice to the industry that Virginia is serious about producing high-quality wines.”

The Gala

The Governor’s Cup Gala was held on Tuesday, February 26th at Main Street Station in Richmond, VA. There, winemakers, winery staff, restaurateurs, wine retailers, media, and Virginia Wine enthusiasts all gathered to taste through the gold medal-winning wines, prior to the start of the program. At 6:45pm, everyone gathered toward the podium at the far end of the station to hear the announcement of Wine Person of the Year and the recipient of the Gordon Murchie Lifetime Achievement Award. A video of the judging process was shown to a rapt audience, and as Steven Spurrier proclaimed that, “Virginia is the Europe of the United States,” a boisterous cheer traversed the station.

Following the announcement of the Governor’s Cup Case winners, Virginia’s Secretary of Agriculture said, “ I am also pleased to see the breadth of gold medal wines from all over Virginia. It’s a testament to the quality of Virginia wines being grown in every corner of the Commonwealth!” She introduced Governor Northam, who announced Horton Vineyard’s 2016 Petit Manseng as this year’s top Virginia wine. The Horton team joined Sharon Horton on stage as they celebrated their first-time win.

To read more about the Virginia Governor’s Cup Competition and the Gala, find coverage about the events in Forbes, the Washington Post, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, and the Virginian-Pilot.

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