Merits of Wine Judging

by Jana Harvey on May 6, 2006

Last weekend I judged the Riverside International Wine Competition.  I find the judging valuable.  Not for the gold medals our wines receive, it seems that receiving gold medal these days does not help sell wine like they did 20 years ago, but for two other things.   

One: We judge (smell & taste, spitting out the wine the whole time) about 100 wines a day.  (A beer sure taste good at the end of the day, you will always find the palate wasted judges in the bar or around the pool with a nice good one after a long day of judging).  Tasting all these different wines from all over the world really helps me when I’m creating the final blends for the Scott Harvey, InZinerator and Jana wines.  If a winemaker does not taste other winemaker’s wines, he or she will get to close to the wines they are making and get use to their own mistakes.  Judging helps me continually hone my craft.  I have been judging commercial wine competitions for over 25 years and do Riverside International, New World International, California State Fair, the New York Wine Competition, Michigan Stateas well as the Amador and El Dorado County Judgings.

Two:  It brings me as a winemaker into the fraternity of American winemakers,  (needless to say, I think a great group of fun loving people).  The contacts and friendships with the other winemakers, winery principals, trade people and press are invaluable.  We are all in the business because we love it.  You get a group of passionate people together and you are in for an interesting and good time.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of work.  Here I am sitting at my computer on a beautiful Saturday morning looking out over the newly budding Napa Valley Vineyards, (the life blood of our existence), with three work orders to write for next weeks Barbera bottlings, four spec sheets to  churn out and a letter to the shareholders to write.  So I’m starting out with journaling, I guess you could call that constructive procrastination.  Anyway it all has to get done.  Thank goodness for Saturday mornings. 

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