Upstarts top the New York field

(Double-click to enlarge images)

Judges Rene Chazottes (left) of Newport Beach, CA, and Mike Dunne of Sacramento, CA.

NAPA, CA -- For the second time in five years, the 22nd annual New York Wine & Food Classic headed west to spread the gospel of Empire State wines.

Following its 2003 debut here at Copia: The American Center for Wine, Food & The Arts, the New York event returned for its annual competition for New York-only wines. Nearly 800 entries were judged by 24 experts from California (10), New York (6, including yours truly) and other states (6) as well as one each from Canada and the United Kingdom.

Rather than the usual suspects -- Herman J. Weimer or Konstantine Frank -- emerging on top, two relatively unknown entries took the top awards.

The Thirsty Owl Wine Co. from the Finger Lakes region won the Governor's Cup as best of show while winery of the year went to the Red Barn Winery of Central New York.

Thirsty Owl won with its 2006 Dry Riesling, the flagship wine of the Finger Lakes. En route to the Governor's Cup, the wine also was voted Best White and Best Dry Riesling. Thirsty Owl, one of the region's newest wineries, is located on Cayuga Lake on a tract of land that was part of a post-Revolutionary War grant awarded to Sgt. Florence Marony for his courageous service. The company was founded in 2002 by Jonathan Cupp.

Red Barn Winery is located in North Syracuse. It received a double gold (unanimous pick of the panel), two golds, one silver and two bronzes en route to its overall win.

"We maintain that many New York wines are now world-class in quality," said Jim Trezise, president of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation which sponsors and runs the competition. "The fact that we held this New York-only competition in Napa, and have three-fourths of all judges from places other than New York,, confirms our confidence in that belief. these are all very qualified judges, so we let the wines speak for themselves."

The event is organized by Teresa Knapp of the NYW&GF, and is open to all 239 New York wineries.

Peter Marks, senior director of wine and food at COPIA, and one of the judges.

The winners in each category of the competition:

Sparkling Wine: Swedish Hill Vineyards NV Spumante Blush.

White Wine: Thirsty Owl Wine Co. 2006 Dry Riesling.

Blush Wine: Barrington Cellars 2006 Buzzard's Blush.

Red Wine: Pindar Vineyards 2005 Cabernet Franc.

Dessert Wine: Mazza Chautauqua Cellars 2005 Ice Wine of Vidal Blanc.

Specialty Wine: Red Barn Winery 2006 Raspberry Wine.

The best-of-class winners:

Vinifera Sparkling: Osprey's DFominion Vineyards 2002 Rose de Noir.

Other Sparkling: Swedish Hill Vineyards NV Spumante Blush.

Dry Riesling: Thirsty Owl Wine Co. 2006 Dry Riesling.

Semi-Dry Riesling: Rivendell Winery 2006 Soho Cellars Johannisberg Riesling.

Oaked Chardonnay: econic Bay Winery 2005 La Barrique Chardonnay.

Unoaked Chardonay: Cayuga Ridge Estate Winery 2006 Chardonnay.

Pinot Gris: Hunt Country Vineyards 2006 Pinot Gris.

Pinot Blanc: Glenora Wine Cellars 2006 Pinot Blanc.

Gewurztraminer: Standing Stone Vineyard 2006 Gewurztraminer.

Hybrid White Blend: Bloomer Creek Vineyards 2006 Reserve White.

Vignoles: Anthony Road Wine Co. 2006 Vignoles.

Vidal Blanc: Long Point Winery 2006 Vidal Blanc.

• Cayuga White: McGregor Vineyard Winery 2006 Cayuga White.

Other White: Penguin Bay Winery 2006 Valvin Muscat.

Other Blush: Barrington cellars 2006 Buzzard's Blush.

• Catawba: Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards Cabin Fever.

Pinot Noir: Six Mile Creek Vineyard 2005 Pinot Noir.

Cabernet Franc: Pinda Vineyards 2005 Cabernet Franc.

Merlot: Bedell Cellars 2005 Merlot.

Vinifera Red Blend: Osprey's Dominion Vineyards 2002 Flight Meritage.

Native Red Blend: Fox Run Vineyards NV Fox Trot Red.

Late Harvest: Swedish Hill Vineyards 2005 Late Harvest Vignoles.

Ice Wine: Mazza Chautaqua Cellars 2005 Ice Wine of Vidal Blanc.

Port: Red Barn Winery 2005 Pauley's Port.

Mead: Torrey Ridge Scarlet Red.

Fruit Wine: Red Barn Winery 2006 Raspberry Wine.

Linda Lawry (left) of New York City and Ann Miller of Rolla, MO, are intent on their judging.

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