The three-day 2019 Pinot Noir Celebration held in Queenstown, Central Otago delivered on Chairman Paul Pujol’s welcome promise of examining the region, its producers and their wines with a perspective as fresh as a stiff breeze off Queenstown Bay.
If you enjoy port, the rich, fortified wine of Portugal’s Douro Valley, you’re already a
fan of Touriga. Touriga Nacional as it is known in Portugal is one of the five classic grape varieties that are blended to make Port wines. The Touriga variety that won this year’s Best of Show Red made its way from Portugal to UC Davis where it was selected by St. Amant Winery’s late Tim Spencer and planted at an estate vineyard in Amador County in 1980.
In a repeat performance, Imagery Estate Winery founded by Joe Benziger in 1985 has been honored for the second year running by the California State Fair as the 2018 Golden State Winery of the Year. Benziger, who was at the helm for the 2017 award, has now retired but serves as guide and mentor for his second daughter Jamie Benziger, 31, who stepped up as winemaker in 2018.
Spanish missionaries at Mission Soledad first planted vineyards in the region now known as the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA in the late 18th century. But winegrowing on the windswept terraces of the Santa Lucia mountain range began in earnest in 1973 when Rich and Claudia Smith established the Paraiso Vineyard. Parasio is the tenth iconic vineyard to be acknowledged by the California State Fair as Vineyard of the Year.