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El Dorado County Fair Commercial Wine Competition 2023

by Claire L. Torbeck, Dipwset And Certified Sommelier

This well-run competition, judged by industry experts, is well respected among consumers and winemakers alike. All wines are tasted blind by the judging panel(s), first individually and then final results as a consensus. The medals awarded boost consumer confidence as judges have no affiliation with the wineries and score simply on the merits of the wine in the glass. As such, these awards are coveted by the wineries and boost consumer interest in their award-winning wines thereby increasing sales.

The competition also provides an opportunity for valuable feedback from judges who evaluate based on various criteria such as aroma, taste, balance, and complexity. This feedback can help winemakers refine their techniques, improve their wines, and understand how they measure up against their peers. It provides a platform for benchmarking, or comparing, their wines against others in the same category or region. A winery can then evaluate their products and standing in the market, providing valuable insights for future production and development.

Lastly, consumer education is an additional perk as the wines are showcased during the fair itself, allowing an opportunity for sampling or viewing the medal winners, and providing an opportunity to learn more about different styles, varietals, areas, and vineyards. This greatly contributes to consumer education and appreciation of wine.

A perk not often mentioned is that published results of a competition allow consumers to see awarded wines and wineries by clicking on the competition website (

This provides an amazing resource when planning a visit to the area and helps in the selection of wineries to visit and wines to seek out to taste. If you do so, be sure to mention you read about their accolades and awards and decided to visit and taste their award-winning wines!

While you can view the results at the link provided above, the following wineries are noteworthy because of the number of wines entered as well as their impressive results:

Jeff Runquist Wines was awarded 4 Best of Class (BOC) Awards, 7 Double Gold Medals and 6 Gold Medals. To view the entire list of their awards, go to:

Macchia Winery in Lodi, California, was awarded 6 Best of Class (BOC) Awards, 8 Double Gold Medals and 5 Gold Medals. To view the entire list of their awards:


FULL DISCLOSURE: I was a panel judge at the competition and have participated as such for several years. The competition is a great snapshot of the wonderful wines being crafted in the area. It is a beautiful spot to visit with tons of history and I always enjoy my sleepover at the Historic Cary House Hotel the night before the competition as well as dinner at Heyday Cafe where we love to celebrate my husband’s birthday! It is definitely a diamond in the rough!

Historic Cary House Hotel:

Heyday Café:

About the Author

Claire L. Torbeck, Dipwset And Certified Sommelier - I am the Cellar Master for the International Wine & Food Society Lake Tahoe where I purchase and manage the cellar and provide wine pairings for events. I develop and deliver educational seminars for winery staff, clubs and enthusiasts, purchase wines for clients, and judge at various wine competitions around California.

Visit Claire L. Torbeck, Dipwset And Certified Sommelier's Website