Posted by: Bree Boskov MW, OWB Education Manager

Having been in Oregon for merely a week, I just yesterday learned of the Oregon Wine Competition, taking place this year on Aug. 5-6, through the organizer of the Oregon Wine Experience. It impressed me to find that the competition is limited to just 300 wines, or only 75 wines per day for each member of the judging panel. This structure has been devised to provide the judges with sufficient time to consider and assess each entry without the pressure of time. This is rare in a judging competition; typically judges taste on average 150 wines a day.

I was further impressed to learn that the events organizers each year seek out a balanced panel of judges in the format of three Masters of Wine (MWs) and three wine writers, and that this year, they are also equally split on gender. For such a small-scale regional competition, I would have expected the usual judges line up of primarily local winemakers and wine writers. The caliber of judges at this event lends great credibility to the competition results, as they weigh their experience tasting Oregon wines against their vast experience tasting wines from around the world.

The competition is run over two days, with the final day offering participating wineries a Q&A session with the judges. It is relatively unheard of to be able to have instant feedback from the judges on your wines, and I would highly encourage participating wineries to take advantage of this unique opportunity.

Wine competitions play an important role in the industry, offering objective assessments and avenues to improving the category and class of a wine region.

Last year, the Oregon Wine Competition only received entries from 68 wineries across Oregon. I strongly encourage more Oregon wineries to take the opportunity to have their wines evaluated by such an esteemed judging panel.

In particular, this is an opportunity for those small wineries that do not receive feedback from wine writers in publications or supply their wines to international competitions such as Decanter Wine Awards, International Wine Challenge or TEXSOM, to receive a knowledgeable and unbiased global perspective of their wine. The MWs who are judging at this year’s competition all have more than a decade of experience judging internationally as MWs.  They also offer invaluable market insights: one is a category manager for BC Liquor and another is an importer and distributor with thirty years of experience in the domestic market.

To provide further perspective about the value of this opportunity, should you choose to hire any of these three MWs individually to assess your wine, it would cost approximately $500 per individual wine. This competition should considered by Oregon winemakers as an efficient way to receive immediate and accurate feedback.

The bonus is that this is a not-for-profit event, with all proceeds raised donated to the Asante foundation, a Children’s Miracle Network hospital.

For more information on the Oregon Wine Competition, including the judges’ bios and details on how to enter, visit the competition’s website. Entries are due by Jun. 9.