January 5, 2024

A Look into the 2024 Virginia Governor’s Cup

Governor's Cup

Annually, the Virginia Governor’s Cup Competition is an opportunity to highlight Virginia’s top wines and celebrate the impressive work of winemakers across the state.  As we look forward to the 2024 Virginia Governor’s Cup, read along for a glimpse at the history and structure of the competition— now celebrating its 42nd year. To close the competition, the winners are unveiled and celebrated at the Gala, a must-attend event for wine enthusiasts everywhere.

History of the Virginia Governor’s Cup

The Governor’s Cup competition has a long-standing legacy of recognizing Virginia’s top wines, becoming a cornerstone of the state’s winemaking achievements. Each year, the results not only highlight outstanding wines but also narrate the evolving story of Virginia’s viticultural efforts and emerging wine trends. Every wine entered must be crafted from 100% Virginia-grown fruit, emphasizing a commitment to authenticity and the highest quality standards.

From its humble beginnings of sipping wines in an open field during the heat of summer in 1989, the competition has undergone significant changes. Seeing a major revamp in 2011, the competition took on stringent rules and a new structure was implemented. For over a decade, Jay Youmans served as the competition director, bringing notoriety to the competition through an impressive judging panel. The past several years have continuously broken records for the number of gold medal winners, highlighting the impressive quality of wines crafted in Virginia.

With the rise of Virginia Cider, the competition introduced the Best in Show Cider Award in 2021. With an expert panel of judges, the award acknowledges the exceptional craftsmanship of cideries. As the tradition continues this year, anticipation builds around the recognition of Virginia’s top cider producers.

This year’s competition

For the first time, this year’s judging will be led by competition director Frank Morgan. Frank has a 15-year history of writing about Virginia wines. He contributes a syndicated wine column to newspapers like The Daily Press and The Boston Herald, and writes for Virginia Living Magazine and Wine & Country Life magazine. Frank has managed the Monticello Cup Wine Competition and the Shenandoah Valley Wine Competition for five years and served as a judge for the Virginia Governor’s Cup for a decade. 

The 2024 judging panel is an impressive array of experts, featuring carefully selected and well-versed sommeliers, wine writers, educators, distributors and retailers. The judging process will kick off in mid-January and will be a journey to taste through the 750+ wines submitted for review— marking 2024 as another year of record-breaking entries.

All wines are judged on a 100-point scale and are reviewed on appearance, aroma, flavor, overall quality and commercial suitability. In the preliminary round, each wine is reviewed by 7 judges in a single-blind tasting, ensuring impartiality. The individual scores are averaged after the lowest is dropped. 

Then, the highest-ranking wines are moved to the final round where each final round judge will taste the wines. Here, the panel of final judges’ scores determine the top-scoring wines that comprise the Governor’s Cup Case and overall winner. 

Celebrating the Top Wines 

The celebration of the 2024 Governor’s Cup results is being held on March 7th in Richmond. A can’t miss event for wine enthusiasts, the Virginia Governor’s Cup Gala, celebrates gold medalists and unveils the top awards. Attendees can savor the best of Virginia Wine, engage with winemakers, and taste bites from local chefs.

All wines with a 90+ point score are awarded gold medals, and the winning wineries pour their best wines at the event. While the results are yet to be determined, over 60 wineries received 142 gold medals in 2023. Virginia Wine fans can also taste more from these top wineries by signing up for the 2024 Gold Medal Wine Trail

The Gala culminates with the announcement of the award winners including the 12 wines comprising the Governor’s Cup Case, the Best in Show Cider and the biggest award of the night— the Cup winner.

Here’s to another year of the Governor’s Cup—a testament to the past, present, and future of Virginia’s wine-making journey! 

Governor's Cup

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