When you reach the top, word travels quickly. Within hours of being announced the 2004 winner of the Best Wine of the Competition at the L.A. County Fair’s Wines of the World competition, Hahn Estates, Syrah, Central Coast, 2002, started flying off the shelves. In less than two weeks, 1,000 cases had been sold and buyers were calling for more.
That’s the sign of a great wine. That’s the sign of what a great competition can do.
Combining an impressive list of the world’s finest wine judging professionals and an international array of entries, the Wines of the World competition has cemented itself as the premier wine competition. The 2005 event is scheduled for May 11-13 at the Millard Sheets Gallery at Fairplex. The Olive Oils of the World competition will be held concurrently.
From white to red, sparkling to dessert and even non-alcohol, more than 300 classes of wine will be savored by some of the most discriminating palates in the world. Since the competition opened to international wines four years ago, the volume of entries has steadily increased with wines coming from as far away as Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
“It’s very exciting, to see the volume of entries we’re getting and from where,” said Mary Ellen Cole, Fairplex cellar master and competition organizer.
With the inclusion of international entries, the Fair’s wine competition has become the biggest international competition, attracting some of the greatest names in the wine industry as both entrants and judges. In 2004, more than 3,800 wines were entered.
The deadline to enter for 2005 is April 1.
The event will continue to include the Limited Production Wine competition. The limited production category recognizes wines produced in smaller quantities and is open to all wines in selected classes with production levels of less than 2,500 cases. The Organic Wine division returns for its fourth year.
All wines that are entered in the Wines of the World competition will be automatically entered into a separate wine packaging competition that will award medals for the best label and design.
The Fair also hosts the Olive Oils of the World competition held in conjunction with the wine event. Begun in 2000, the competition is now the largest olive oil competition in the nation. The 2004 competition received 239 oils from around the world.
Beginning shortly after the end of prohibition, the L.A. County Fair began awarding medals to the finest wines in California. The event quickly grew to world-class stature. The Los Angeles County Fair Association places a strong emphasis on educating the public about wine. In 1968, the Fair introduced public wine tasting and in 1998 established a wine education center called The Vineyard. The Vineyard features more than 2,000 award-winning wines and extra virgin olive oils on display, gold medal wine tasting which serves more than 50,000 wine samples from a menu selection of 300 gold medal-winning wines and offers more than 50 wine and olive oil education classes taught by our wine and olive oil judges.
The 83rd anniversary L.A. County Fair is Sept. 9 – Oct. 2, open Wednesday through Sunday.
LACFA president Jim Henwood said the goal of the competition is to offer consumers valuable information about wine and the winemaking process.
“Our mission is to educate, encourage and stimulate the continuing improvement in the quality of wines and vineyards throughout the world. We intend to enrich the reputation of these wine growing regions and their winemakers by demonstrating through our competition the ability to produce fine wines of outstanding taste, character and complexity in a manner that will inform and excite consumers.”
The competition’s judging takes three full days. The judges sniff, swish and spit, grading each wine on numerous qualities. In all tasting compet