From OWB Education Manager Bree Stock MW

Three years ago, I had the pleasure to participate as a judge the in the Oregon Wine Competition, organized by the Asante Foundation, host of the Oregon Wine Experience. The experience was professional and insightful, introducing me to a vast selection of varieties and styles within our state.

Over the past three years, Asante has continued to refine the judging program and now includes an equal mix of judges who hold some of the highest qualifications in the wine industry⁠—Master Sommeliers and Master of Wines⁠—as well as wine writers. It was also a pleasure to judge a competition that is limited to just 300 wines, or only 75 wines per day for each member of the judging panel. This structure allows judges to sit with a wine and truly assess each entry without the pressure of time. This is rare in a judging competition; typically judges taste on average 150 wines a day. This organizational structure and the caliber of judges 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 judging competition is still 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. In 2020, Asante is adding an additional component, at the recommendation of previous judges and industry subject matter experts: the judges will spend a day prior to the two days of judging with an Oregon wine expert who will take them on a tour of the local vineyards and provide a tasting of the major varieties grown in Southern Oregon and walk them through the region and previous vintage wines, in an effort to provide further perspective on Oregon wine and give context for quality and age worthiness.

Wine competitions play an important role in the industry, offering objective assessments and avenues to improving the category, quality and class of a wine region. I strongly encourage more Oregon wineries to take the opportunity to have their wines evaluated by such an esteemed judging panel, as this is a rare opportunity to show your wine and showcase the potential of your region.

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 International Wine Awards, to receive a knowledgeable and unbiased global perspective of their wine.

To provide further perspective about the value of this opportunity, should you choose to hire any of these masters to assess your wine, it would cost approximately $500 per individual wine. This competition should be 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.

Wine entries are due by June 12.