Ohio Wines Snag Prestigious Medals in San Francisco Competition

By Mark Fisher

Ohio wineries scored some rather prestigious hardware as part of their impressive haul of 18 total medals from the wines they entered into the 2021 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

The competition is the largest for American wines in the world. This year, 48 judges evaluated nearly 5,700 wines from more than 1,000 wineries in North America.

Ohio wines have performed very well in this highly competitive event over the years, and 2021 was no exception. Here are some highlights:

Debonné Vineyards in Madison in the Grand River Valley won a Double-Gold medal in the competition’s “Chardonnay/$10 to $13.99” category for its 2019 Grand River Valley Unoaked Chardonnay, and it also scored a Gold medal in the white dessert/late harvest category for its 2019 Grand River Valley Vidal Blanc Ice Wine.

The winery’s unoaked Chardonnay earned “the only Ohio award in this category in a sea of California chards,” Debonné said on its Facebook page.

Last year, in the 2020 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, a previous vintage, the 2017, of the Debonné Vineyards’ Unoaked Chardonnay scored a “Best of Class” award.

Founded in 1971, Debonné Vineyards is home to 175 acres of grapes, the largest estate vineyards in Ohio, according to the Ohio Wine Producers Association.


Laurello Vineyards in Harpersfield Township in the Grand River Valley scored a Double Gold Medal in the white dessert/late harvest category for its 2019 Grand River Valley Sweet Genevieve Ice Wine.

The San Francisco success follows another big win last fall for the same wine and vintage in the 2020 New York-based Great American International Wine Competition, where it captured a coveted Platinum medal, the top designation for a wine in that competition.

Laurello’s award-winning ice wine is named after winery co-owner Kim Laurello’s mother, Kim told TheWineBuzz last fall.

“For the last 18 years, Ohio has really stood up and put our state on the map with excellent vinifera varietal wines and with ice wines,” Kim Laurello said following the Great American win. “People are now looking to Ohio for wonderful ice wines.”

Ficarra Cellars in Valley View near Cleveland won a “Best in Class” designation for its 2018 Ficarra Cellars Cremisi Nero Carménère.

Ficarra Cellars has not yet opened its tasting room to the public, but it serves established wineries with high-quality finished wines, grapes and juices from some the America’s best-known appellations, according to the Ohio Wine Producers Association. It sells some of its wines, including the award-winning Carménère, online.

The Ohio wine industry “is incredibly proud of these Ohio Wine Producers Association member wineries and their accomplishments,” OWPA Executive Director Donniella Winchell said in a release.

For a complete listing of 2021 San Francisco Wine Competition award winners, go to www.winejudging.com

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