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North Coast Wine Challenge winners announced

  • Michael Scholz samples a wine during the North Coast Wine Challenge, in Santa Rosa on Tuesday, April 29, 2014. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

The top winner in the second annual Press Democrat North Coast Wine Challenge brought together the best the North Bay has to offer: grapes grown along the cool, Sonoma Coast, crafted into a classic pinot noir by boutique winery W. H. Smith Wines of Calistoga.

The W. H. Smith 2010 Maritime Vineyard Pinot Noir, made from grapes that ripened slowly over an uncommonly cold, wet season, was crowned the “Best of the Best” by the judges, who described the wine as “rare to find: the best-best-best.”

CLICK HERE to see a full list of the winners.

2014 North Coast Wine Challenge Judging


W. H. Smith is owned by Bill and Joan Smith, who bought an 1898 winery, La Jota Wine Co., on Howell Mountain in 1974 and made gutsy cabernets and zinfandels for two decades before branching out into pinot noirs sourced from the Sonoma Coast.

Led by Chief Judge Daryl Groom of Healdsburg, the 26 judges sniffed and sipped their way through 881 wines during the blind tasting held April 29 and 30 at the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country Hotel in Santa Rosa.

The judges awarded 160 gold medals this year, up from 121 last year. They also awarded four “Best of County” awards and five “Best of Show” awards in the categories of Best Red, White, Rosé, Sparkling and Dessert/Late Harvest wines.

Online Database by Caspio
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“This year, the judges were thrilled with the quality of the wines,” Groom said. “We ended up with 19 percent getting gold medals, which was up from (14 percent) last year.”

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