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Loudoun County vineyard wins Virginia’s top wine honor

Loudoun County vineyard wins Virginia’s top wine honor

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A Loudoun County winery made a sweet finish at a statewide competition judging the commonwealth’s best wines.

868 Estate Vineyards in Purcellville received the top honor in the 2020 Virginia Governor’s Cup for its 2017 Vidal Blanc Passito, a dessert wine. The Governor’s Cup awards ceremony was held Feb. 25 at Main Street Station in downtown Richmond. The annual competition is a partnership among the Virginia Wine Board, the Virginia Vineyards Association and the Virginia Wineries Association.

“It’s a pleasure to see our team win such a prestigious award and receive recognition for their hard work, creativity, and perseverance,” Peter Deliso, co-founder and chairman of 868 Estate Vineyards, said in a news release.

The 2017 Vidal Blanc Passito was one of more than 500 wines submitted to the competition from across the state, which requires all entries to be made from Virginia fruit.

According to Gov. Ralph Northam’s office, 868 Estate Vineyards’ Passito is the first winner made entirely from Loudoun County fruit. The wine was produced using the Italian “appassimento” technique, which includes partially drying grapes in order to concentrate flavor but stopping the fermentation process early to retain the natural grape sugar in the final product.

“The Vidal Blanc Passito embodies both the experimentation and artistry that has made Virginia the leading East Coast destination for wine,” Northam said in a news release. “This year’s Governor’s Cup Case is a strong reflection of our world-class wine industry and the distinctive wines being produced in our commonwealth.”

The winner was chosen by a panel of 19 judges, led by Jay Youmans, one of 51 Masters of Wine in the country. The entries were sampled over four weeks. Twelve of the top-ranking wines, including 868 Estate Vineyards’ Vidal Blanc Passito, were selected for the Governor’s Cup Case.

Nancy Deliso, marketing director and co-owner of 868 Estate Vineyards, says she is thrilled that 868 Estate Vineyard won and hopes that this success draws more people to Loudoun County.

“We are especially proud to bring home the cup to Loudoun County,” she said.

According to state officials, the Virginia wine industry generates $1.37 billion in economic impact and over 8,000 jobs in the commonwealth. Virginia also is one of the top six states in number of wineries and wine grape production, Northam’s office said.

Last year, the top Governor’s Cup honor went to Horton Vineyards for its 2016 Petit Manseng.

The Virginia Wineries Association also announced its Industry Awards, naming Justin Rose of Rosemont Winery in Mecklenburg County the Virginia Wine Person of the Year; selecting George Hodson, CEO of Veritas Vineyards and Winery and president of Flying Fox Vineyards in Afton, as the David King Advocate of the Year; and presenting Randy Phillips, general manager of Cave Ridge Vineyard and Winery in the Shenandoah Valley, with the Gordon Murchie Lifetime Achievement Award.

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