Keswick Vineyards co-owner Al Shornberg accepts the 2016 Governor's Cup from Gov. Terry McAuliffe. (Photo by: Stephanie Breijo)
Were the Governor's Cup a vineyard, it would, fittingly, be old enough to have already produced a number of vintages; last night's 34th annual Governor's Cup Gala celebrated the state's premier wineries at the Hotel John Marshall, culminating in a decades-old award: the coveted Governor's Cup, bestowed upon the year's top-ranking Virginia wine.
Of the more than 430 wines sampled this year by a team of 43 judges, the cup ultimately went to Keswick Vineyards for its 2014 Cabernet Franc Estate Reserve — the second win for the Central Virginia vineyard, whose 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon won the 2009 cup.
"As most married couples know, if you both can completely agree on something, then that is pretty special," Keswick co-owner Al Shornberg delivered to a chuckling ballroom, "so we packed up our family from Michigan to move to Virginia in the year 2000, and started the vineyard and pursuing our dream. So tonight, to be recognized with this Cup by such an esteemed group of judges, is an incredible honor. And it's a personal significant honor to us because this was our dreams transforming into reality. I want to thank everybody at Keswick Vineyards for the role they played in getting this honor, for the vineyard."
The balanced, estate-grown wine offers notes of black pepper, mocha, brambleberry and bitter chocolate, according to the winemaker, and is available online for $50 per bottle.
Judges determined the winner by merit of aroma, flavor, appearance, quality and commercial suitability, in two rounds of blind tastings and over a period of two weeks.
In addition to Keswick Vineyards’ 2016 winner, 11 wines were selected for this year's Governor’s Cup Case, which will be used for educational and marketing purposes until 2017's winners are selected. You can find them below. For the full list of the 2016 Governor's Cup's 38 gold medalists, stay tuned to the Virginia Wineries Association.
- Barboursville Vineyards, 2014 Vermentino
- Bluestone Vineyard, 2014 Chardonnay
- Cardinal Point Winery, 2014 Clay Hill Cabernet Franc
- Fabbioli Cellars, 2012, Cabernet Franc
- Glen Manor Vineyards, 2013 Hodder Hill
- Granite Heights Winery, 2010 Evening Serenade
- Horton Vineyards, 2014 Petit Manseng
- Michael Shaps, 2014 Petit Manseng
- Naked Mountain Winery, 2012 Petit Verdot
- North Gate Vineyard, 2013 Meritage
- Stone Tower Winery, 2013 Hogback Mountain