Nevada County wineries score at State Fair Wine competition |

Nevada County wineries score at State Fair Wine competition

Lucchesi Vineyards won gold for there Sauvignon Blanc Wine at the California State Fair, left to right are Matt Wentz winemaker, Linda and Mario Clough the owners of Lucchesi Vineyard.
John Hart | The Union

The results of the California State Fair were announced recently, and once again, the vineyards and wineries of Nevada County brought home some great awards.

Leading this year’s list of local winners is one winery that grows and produces all its wines right here in Nevada County, and one winery that grows the majority of its grapes in the county but produces the wines in Lake County. Both continue to establish the solid reputation of Nevada County as a premium wine-growing region.

Lucchesi Vineyards and Winery scored with its 2012 Sauvignon Blanc.

During a series of tasting rounds over the three-day competition that took place in Sacramento last month, Lucchesi won a gold medal in the first round.

“The panels gave a smaller proportion of gold medals this year. I suspect that it may mean that this year’s panel was a bit more demanding.”

— State Fair Chief Judge Mike Dunne

In a subsequent taste-off, its wine was then selected as the best Sauvignon Blanc from the Sierra Foothills. And in yet one more tasting round, its 2012 Sauvignon Blanc was chosen as the best overall white wine of all the white varieties entered from the entire Sierra Foothill region.

Winery owner Mario Clough and vineyard manager and winemaker Matt Wentz combined their efforts to produce this award-winning wine.

“This wine is 100 percent estate grown, fermented, and bottled,” Wentz said.

“Even though it is 100 percent Sauvignon Blanc, it has five different clones that make up the composition. Even in the vineyard, I find that I can taste differences in the clones. As a variety, Sauvignon Blanc is probably one of my favorite varieties to grow.”

Wentz explained that nothing in this wine happened by accident. It was all the result of hard work and lots of research.

“We tailored the Sauvignon Blanc to our desired tastes,” he said.

“We decided to do a grapefruit-oriented Sauvignon Blanc as opposed to a more grassy style. Our style of choice then affects everything we do, from how we grow the fruit, to winemaking decisions like type of yeast, fermentation temperature, even sulfite additions.”

Chacewater Winery owners Paul and Kellye Manuel are equally proud of their winery’s results at this year’s California State Fair.

Chacewater won the top honor of Golden State Winery of the Year at last year’s competition. While they did not manage to repeat that this year, they sure did not miss it by much.

Chacewater entered 10 wines in the competition and ended up winning an award for every single wine including three gold medals, four silvers, and three bronze medals. In addition to that, they earned three Best of Class of Region awards, two overall Best of Region honors, and two Best of California awards.

While the actual production facility is in Lake County, the Manuels’ home vineyard is on Bitney Springs Road in Nevada County. The wine deemed the best rosé of California was grown in that vineyard. Their homegrown 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2011 Merlot both earned silver medals, while their 2010 Zinfandel and 2011 Syrah from that same vineyard garnered bronze medals.

According to State Fair Chief Judge Mike Dunne, there were 2,625 wines entered in this year’s competition. There were 48 double golds (all four judges award the wine a gold medal) and 207 gold medals. Those two categories combined accounted for slightly less than 10 percent of all the wines entered.

“The panels gave a smaller proportion of gold medals this year,” Dunne said. “I suspect that it may mean that this year’s panel was a bit more demanding. When I look through the list of winners, I sense that the panels did a terrific job of finding and rewarding credible wines.”

Other notable Nevada County winners include Montoliva Vineyard and Winery, who won three silver medals for its 2010 Sierra Bella Italian Blend, 2009 Teroldego and 2010 Two Monsters Petite Sirah.

Nevada City Winery gathered silver medals for its 2010 Barbara, 2011 Dry Gewurztraminer and a bronze for the 2011 Viognier.

Solune Winegrowers came home with silver medals for its 2010 Barbara and another for its port.

Sierra Starr earned silver for its 2012 Celestial Chardonnay and bronze for its 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, 2009 Cabernet Franc and 2009 Old Vine Zinfandel.

Coufos Winery earned silver for its 2008 Syrah and bronze for the 2009 Syrah. Avanguardia won bronze for its Premiato, also an Italian blend, while Clavey Winery earned a bronze medal for its 2010 Syrah.

You can taste any of these award-winning wines at each of the wineries’ respective tasting rooms. For a complete list of all of this year’s winners, go to

Rod Byers is a Certified Wine Educator and wine writer as well as a California State Certified Wine Judge. You can find information about his upcoming Sierra College Kaleidoscope Wine Classes at and he can be reached at 530-273-2856.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User