Ohio’s Impressive Showing at Prestigious San Francisco Wine Competition

By Mark Fisher

It may not rival the Judgment in Paris, but Ohio wines scored a couple of huge upsets and turned heads – again – at this year’s San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

The 2020 San Francisco competition that wrapped up in January evaluated nearly 6,700 wines from more than 1,000 wineries, mostly from California. Despite the stiff competition, it was a Ferrante Winery 2017 Grand River Valley Vidal Blanc Ice Wine that captured the designation of “Specialty Sweepstake Winner,” one of only five sweepstake winners out of 6,700 wines based on wine quality. The Ferrante ice wine had captured the competition’s top prize in the White Late Harvest/Dessert Wine category before moving on to the final sweepstakes round of judging.

The Sweepstake Award win “brings credibility and awareness of the wines in the Grand River Valley,” Nick Ferrante, owner of Ferrante Winery & Ristorante, told TheWineBuzz. In last year’s 2019 San Francisco Chronicle wine judging, Ferrante Winery’s 2017 Gewürztraminer captured a “Best in Class” designation.

Northeast Ohio’s Grand River Valley region scored a second big win in the 2020 SFCWC: Debonné Vineyards scored a “Best of Class” award in the competition’s “Chardonnay $10 to $13.99” category for its 2017 Unoaked Chardonnay.

That value category of chardonnay is one of the toughest brackets, Debonné said in a release. And the Debonné unoaked bottling was the only Chardonnay to qualify for the final sweepstakes round at the San Francisco Chronicle Competition, according to a Debonné release.

“This is a great honor and a testament to our vineyards here in Ohio’s Grand River Valley Region,” Debonné Vineyards owner Tony Debevc told TheWineBuzz. “Great wines start in the vineyards, and our region has a lot to be proud of.”

In addition, The North Coast Wine Club and Winery in Solon, Ohio was awarded a Double Gold Medal in the competition for Gratify, a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah, sourced from California and Washington State grapes. Another of the wine club’s entries, Idilla, also a red-wine blend from the same sources, captured a gold medal.

North Coast Wine Club and Winery is a wine-making educational center and commercial wine-tasting venue operated by Dave Sabo and Tom Radu.

“We have taken great care in assembling an enthusiastic team of experienced winemakers and staff and are dedicated to making only the most exceptional wines from the best sources of grapes,” Radu said in a release.

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