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I’m with my wonderful “cousins” and fellow judges, mother-daughter winemakers Diane and Victoria Wilson of Wilson Artisan Wineries. Their boutique winery properties in Sonoma and Mendocino include Wilson Winery, Matrix Winery and Greenwood Ridge. (No, we’re not actually related, but…)

Hi again, my friends – and welcome back to the International Women’s Wine Competition 2017!

It’s almost time for our Sweepstakes Round, when all of our judges (unlike the Day 1 tasting, when we were divided into panels of 3) convene to taste the same wines – all of which have already earned top medals from the various panels – and then, by group vote, we’ll seek out and award the Best of the Best.


First, though, how about that promised sneak peek at last night’s al fresco Judges’ Dinner at DeLoach Vineyards in Santa Rosa?


Always elegant herself, Certified Sommelier Ellen Landis enjoys a flute of the elegant JCB sparkling wine.

Winemaker Sherrie Holzer (Castoro Cellars) and wine writer Laura Ness arrive at DeLoach Vineyards. First order of “business”: Bubbly reception on the patio.


Winemaker Meredith Sarboraria (Crooked Vine, Stony Ridge), holding her glass of JCB bubbles, plays “dueling camera phones” with me.

The JCB sparkling wine that we sipped during our welcome on the patio is named for French-born Jean-Charles Boisset, who acquired DeLoach in 2003, and whose family is prominent in Burgundy and Champagne.

(During our Harvest Challenge wine competition last November, Jean-Charles also generously hosted our wild and wonderful Judges’ Dinner at Buena Vista Winery, another of the Boisset properties.)

When we moved on to dinner under the grape arbor, the DeLoach Chardonnay and Pinot Noir started to flow – just right for the grilled beef tri-tip and chicken.


Here’s that caprese salad, along with peppery arugula and roasted veggies.

My table overlooked the vegetable beds and the vineyard beyond. How wonderful, and how typical of Wine Country fare, that the tomatoes and herbs in our caprese salad had just been plucked, minutes earlier, from the garden!

Well, my friends – it looks like we won’t get to the Sweepstakes judging in this post after all.

But no worries. The party has been great – and we judges will be ready for action when the Sweepstakes flights are unveiled.


Ellen and Ken Landis, Shauna Rosenblum, Cory Lester toast to a great party and a job well done!


Hope you’ve had fun partying at our Judges’ Dinner at DeLoach Vineyards, with “Cousins” Diane and Victoria Wilson, and me, and all our other judges. See you at Sweepstakes!


Up next: Tomorrow’s Sweepstakes, when I’ll reveal the winning wines (including some *big* surprises!) of the 2017 Women’s International Wine Competition.


Until then, my friends,
Cheers and happy tastings,

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Cheers once again,