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Michigan Takes Gold at Wine Competitions

by Jenelle Jagmin

It's winter-time and Team USA is ready to go for Gold at the Olympics. Here in Michigan, our wineries have been going for glory all year long, making this a good time to reflect on recent wine competitions, and Michigan’s medal-winning wines.


Did you know that there is an international wine competition known as “the Olympics of wine competitions”? The Jefferson Cup Invitational Wine Competition is called that because the competition is not open to every winery willing to submit an entrance fee. Rather they select the best of the best, culled from tastings and competitions in America throughout the year.


The 2017 Jefferson Cup Invitational took place over two days in November, and Michigan wines had quite a showing. Two Michigan wines were given the coveted Jefferson Cup. The 2016 Grüner Veltliner, Braganini Reserve by St. Julian Wine Company won in the White Vinifera category, and the 2016 Blaufränkisch by Left Foot Charley won in the Red Vinifera category.


There were many medal-winners from wineries across the state, including Double Gold medals for Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery for their 2012 Merlot, and White Pine Winery for their 2016 Riesling Reserve.


Michigan also stood out at the 2017 Tasters Guild International Wine Competition. This competition includes approximately 2000 wine samples from 15 countries and 30 states/provinces. The wine entries are reviewed by highly-qualified, consumer-oriented judges that include wine writers, retailers, wholesalers, educators, restauranteurs, and winemakers.


12 Corners won Double Gold for their Aromella, as did Rove Estate for their 2016 Unoaked Chardonnay, and Verterra Winery for their 2016 Pinot Blanc.


The famous Jefferson Cup winning Grüner Veltliner earned Double Gold at this competition, as did the Solera Cream Sherry from St. Julian Wine Company. That very Solera Cream Sherry won Best in Class Dessert Wine at the 2017 Michigan Wine Competition! Also worth noting from the Michigan Wine Competition was the Best of Class distinction that was emphatically awarded to North Arm Noir, a 100% Marquette dry red wine made by Walloon Lake Winery.


The Tasters Guild Competition bestowed four gold medals each to Blustone Vineyards and Domaine Berrien Cellars, and Bel Lago’s 2016 Dry Riesling received Double Gold. That same Dry Riesling also received a Gold at the Pacific Rim International Wine Competition.


The Pacific Rim Competition is comprised of winemakers, educators, restaurateurs, sales professionals, and journalists who perform a two-day blind tasting each year in southern California. Winning Best of Class at this competition in 2017 was Leelanau Peninsula’s Blustone Vineyards, for their 2016 Pinot Noir Rosé.


With Michigan wines winning so many medals at international competitions, the bar is raised for entries into the annual Michigan Wine Competition. Each year the quality of the winemaking improves, and with the industry celebrating back to back abundant harvests in 2016 and 2017, the entries into the 2018 Competition are sure to impress.


For a list of award winning Michigan wines, visit The Michigan Wine Competition will take place on July in East Lansing. The Gold Medal Reception, taking place on August 9 at the Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center, is the public’s opportunity to sample the award-winners. 


Jenelle Jagmin is Promotion Specialist for the Michigan Grape & Wine Industry Council, a program within the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development to provide for research, education and the promotion of the Michigan wine grape and wine industry. More information can be found at Follow @Michiganwines on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

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