Sip and Savor: Halter Ranch wins Winery of the Year award at Central Coast Wine Competition
San Luis Obispo County Wine Awards presented at California Mid State Fair
-There was plenty to celebrate with joint ceremonies going on at Wine Night at Mission Square during the California Mid State Fair on July 21st. First the Central Coast Wine Competition announced its 2017 Winery of the Year award bestowed on Halter Ranch Vineyard.
“On behalf of Halter Ranch and my colleagues I thank the Central Coast Wine Competition for this honor,” said Skylar Stuck, the winery’s general manager. He then invited his enthusiastic team to gather around the stage and soak in the limelight.
Of the 12 wines entered by Halter Ranch, the winery received nine Gold Medals, two Silver Medals and one Bronze from a panel of 19 judges during a blind tasting competition held June 20-21. Four of Halter Ranch’s Gold Medal-winning wines furthered garnered Best in Class.
Then came the San Luis Obispo County’s 2017 industry leader awards honoring Jason Haas as the Industry Person of the Year, Christian Roguenant as Winemaker of the Year and Lino Bozzano, vineyard manager at Laetitia Vineyard & Winery, as the Grapegrower of the Year. These honorees are nominated by their peers in the wine community.
And that’s what Haas commented on. “It’s called the wine industry but it’s a wine community,” said Haas, co-partner and general manager of Tablas Creek Vineyards & Winery. “This award by members of the community means a lot to me.”
Haas said he was honored and humbled to receive the award. “I feel like I’m proudest of being able to serve as an example to other wineries in sustainability and engaging in the community,” said the vintner, who nevertheless sipped beer on the hot summer evening.
A veteran in the industry, Roguenant has been making wines at Niven Family Wine Estates for the past 20 years, crafting such brands as Baileyana, Tangent, Zocker and True Myth. A native of Burgundy, Roguenant spent 15 years at Maison Deutz, one of the premier Champagne houses in France.
Roguenant joked about his wine training in Burgundy which began in grammar school, he recalled. “My teachers drank two bottles of wine at lunch and I was asked to go buy wine for them,” he said with a hearty laugh. At home, he would taste great Burgundies. When his banker father would hold weekend business lunches, young Roguenant would join his father in the cellar to pick out fine wines.
In addition to plaques, the winners received elaborate belt buckles, something they all could use and, added Vicki Carroll, get initiated into the “belt buckle boasting club.” Carroll, a former recipient of the Industry Person of the Year award, presented this year’s award to Haas.
Prior to the ceremonies, there was a walkabout tasting offered by several of the Central Coast Gold medal-winners. Among them were wineries such as Alegretto, Bianchi, Domaine Degher, Derby Estate, Opolo, Pomar Junction, Grey Wolf and Asuncion Ridge.
Gary and Marcy Eberle proudly offered their 2016 muscat canelli, selected as the Best White Wine out of 3,000 whites. “We’re not just pretty faces,” joked Gary pouring the aromatic wine, a refreshing welcome on a hot summer evening. Laetitia Vineyards & Winery’s 2014 Brut Cuvée, this year’s Best Sparkling Wine, was another popular wine with the crowd.
Matt Glunz, co-proprietor and winemaker of Glunz Family Winery, poured the Mission Angelica port, winner of the Best Dessert wine. Made from Mission grapes, Glunz explained that the wine was made in the solera style, thus made up of vintages 1958 through 2000.
The Chicago-based Glunz family has been in the wine business for generations. “My family sold wines to churches” during Prohibition, said Glunz. Layered with butterscotch and rich maple flavors, the Angelica wine begs to be drizzled on pancakes or ice cream.
Steve and Jackie Gleason, owners of Four Lanterns Winery, offered the 2015 Lamp Light, a fragrant viognier, and the 2014 Fire Light, a syrah that won a Gold Medal and Best in Class.
Chris Cameron, winemaker of Broken Earth, poured the 2015 grenache, awarded Best in Show; and Tara Gomez, owner of Kita Wines, offered her Best Pink winner, a pale-hued 2016 grenache rosé, as well as her Gold Medal selections ranging from sauvignon blanc, a white Rhone blend and pinot noir.
While there were a number of winemakers who are veteran Gold Medal winners, it was wonderful to see my longtime friend Kim Murphy Roderiguez (a former marketing consultant) now turned vintner with her husband Dan pouring their Vigo Cellars wine. The couple launched their label in 2015 and are already picking awards. Crafted by Amy Butler, Vigo’s rosé garnered a Gold Medal and viognier a Silver.
Once the ceremony over and the tasting concluded, guests and vintners hung around the Mission Square at the popular brew pub and 15 Degrees C wine bar for more libations before heading out to take in the sights and sounds of the fair.