Barboursville wins record fifth Virginia Governor’s Cup, Lostboy Comeback Kid takes Best of Show Cider, and Virginia’s Viticulture Diversity Shines at 39th Governor’s Cup

Barboursville Paxxito and Lostboy Comeback Kid for the wins!

The Barboursville Vineyards team won their fifth Virginia Governor’s Cup for the 2015 Paxxito dessert wine and Lostboy Cider claimed the first Best in Show Cider award for Comeback Kid.

This is a record fifth Governor’s Cup for Barboursville since the competition began in 1982 and the fourth for a wine made by Luca Paschina since he came to Virginia in 1990 from his native Alba, Italy.  

Only the fifth winery in the state, Barboursville was established in 1976 on a 870-acre historic property in the foothills of the Southwest Mountains in Orange County, about 20 miles northeast of Charlottesville.

Today, the Old Dominion is home to 312 wineries and Barboursville is widely considered the most notable. And, this win further solidifies Paschina’s reputation as one of the elite winemakers in the eastern U.S. 

Paxxito bested 543 other wines entered in this year’s competition and Comeback Kid garnered the top score of the 27 ciders entered.  

“It’s gratifying that our dedication to producing great sweet wine using the passito method for 20 years has yielded great results,” says Paschina.  “I believe it’s the only method to consistently make great sweet wines in Virginia given our climate conditions.” 

A blend of Moscato Ottonel and Vidal Blanc grapes, Paxxito was produced in the ancient Italian appassimento method of partially drying grapes to concentrate flavors.  

Paschina says of the ancient method used to make Paxxito, “We pick the grapes early to retain acidity and then lay the bunches on racks in our barn to air-dry for up to ninety days.” 

The resulting wine is rich and intensely aromatic with luscious dried apricot, honey and caramel flavors. 

The Governor’s Cup competition is sponsored by the Virginia Wineries Association, in partnership with the gubernatorial-appointed Virginia Wine Board and the Virginia Vineyards Association.  

Wines submitted in the Governor’s Cup must be made from 100% Virginia fruit.

All wines were tasted and scored in the preliminary rounds over the course of several weeks with the top scoring 125 advancing to the final round.  The 125 wines that advanced to the final round were retasted and scored by a group of 12 judges.

As one of the final round judges, I was most impressed by the aromatic Petit Manseng flights and the red Bordeaux-style blends and Cabernet Francs.

A total of 96 wines from 47 wineries, cideries and meaderies scored 90+ points earning a gold medal this year. 

The range of vintages, varieties and regions, from new startups to established wineries, that garnered top scores in this year’s competition was impressive.  

A testament to the state’s viticultural diversity!

“I continue to be excited about the diversity of grape varieties and range of styles across the state,” says Jay Youmans, founder of Capital Wine School in Washington, D.C., and one of 56 masters of wine in the U.S., who has administered the competition since 2011.

Youmans told me that he too was impressed with the overall quality of the wines and especially Chardonnay, Petit Manseng and Tannat flights, “It’s clear that Petit Manseng can be a serious point of difference for Virginia wine.”

A new and exciting entrant to the gold medal category is Williamsburg-based Silver Hand Meadery.  Owners Glenn and Sherri Lavender and their team scored six gold medals for their hand crafted meads made from honey, spices and fruits like local strawberries and blueberries.  

This year’s competition included a separate category for cider that saw 27 entries from around the state.  Alexandria-based Lostboy Cider won the Best of Show award for their ‘Comeback Kid,’ a dry and tangy cider made from apples grown in the Shenandoah Valley. 

Officially opened in June 2019, Lostboy Cider was founded by Tristan Wright who left banking to pursue a career in cider.  He traveled to Oregon, Michigan, New York and other places seeking cider wisdom before opening Lostboy Cider.  

Wright and his team source apples from orchards across the Shenandoah Valley, from Winchester south to Tyro. 

“Winning best in show cider is an acknowledgement of our mission to make quality cider and is important because this gives us a seat at the table alongside wine,” says Tristan Wright, founder and president of Lostboy Cider.

Governor’s Cup Gold Medal Trail Mobile Passport
Interested in a guided tour of Virginia’s top wineries and wines?  Download the new Virginia Governor’s Cup Gold Medal Trail interactive mobile passport to explore the 47 wineries, cideries and meaderies that won gold medals in this year’s competition.

Check in at 12 participating gold medal wineries, cideries or meaderies and you’ll earn a prize.  It could be a major award!  Or a Virginia Wine tumbler.   The mobile passport is available at taste.virginiawine.org.

Joining the Barboursville 2015 Paxxito in the 2021 Virginia Governor’s Case are the following top 11 scoring wines: 

  • Barboursville Vineyards, Paxxito (2015)
  • Barboursville Vineyards, Octagon (2016)
  • Barboursville Vineyards, Vermentino Reserve (2019)
  • Bluestone Vineyard, Petit Manseng (2019)
  • Breaux Vineyards, Meritage (2016)
  • Breaux Vineyards, Nebbiolo (2016)
  • Carriage House Wineworks, Petit Verdot (2019)
  • R.A.H. Wine Co., Series 1 (2017)
  • King Family Vineyards, Mountain Plains (2017)
  • Michael Shaps Wineworks, Meritage (2015)
  • Trump Winery, Brut Reserve (2014)
  • Veritas Winery, Petit Verdot (2017)

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