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At a ceremony this evening at the historic Main Street Station and Trainshed in Richmond, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam presented the 2018 Governor’s Cup to King Family Vineyards winemaker Matthieu Finot and team for their 2014 Meritage.  

Situated at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the scenic town of Crozet, about 20 minutes west of Charlottesville, King Family Vineyards was established by David and Ellen King.  The Kings purchased the original 327 acre farm in 1996 and planted their first eight acres of grape vines in 1998.  Today there are 31 acres under vine at King Family Vineyards with an annual production of 10,000 cases.

“Our goal every year is for our wines to be known as some of the finest in the region,” said Ellen King, co-founder of King Family Vimeyards.  “The Governor’s Cup is a testament to Matthieu’s consistancy in making our flagship wine.”

Born in the Rhone Valley region of France, winemaker Matthieu Finot came to Virginia in 2003 and joined the King Family Vineyards team in 2007. Finot studied viticulture and oenology in Burgundy and today is one of the most accomplished winemakers in the Commonwealth, best-known for crafting world-class Bordeaux-style red blends like the 2014 Meritage.

“Meritage is our flagship wine and showcases the consistency of quality at King Family Vineyards,” said winemaker Matthieu Finot. “We enter very few competitions so scoring five gold medals this year and winning the Governor’s Cup validates our commitment to Meritage and the work that our team does.”

The 2014 Meritage—a blend of 50% Merlot, 23% Petit Verdot, 21% Cabernet Franc, and 6% Malbec—bested 442 wines entered in this year’s competition.

Ninety-nine (99!) of the 442 wines entered scored 90+ points earning a gold medal this year compared to 23 gold medals awarded in the 2017 competition (of 494 wines entered) and 38 golds in 2016 (of 432 wines entered).

“The increase in Gold medals this year is due to the overall high quality of the wines submitted,” said competition organizer, Jay Youmans, MW.

We took the top 150 wines to the finals in Richmond. The cut off point was 87.5, nearly 2 points higher than the previous five to six years. I believe that the wineries are producing better wines, and that they are being more selective about what they submit to the competition.

Of note in this year’s competition, white wines scored higher than any of the past seven Governor’s Cups: eleven Viogniers, eight Chardonnays, and five Petit Mansengs scored gold medals.

“Wines across the board showed quality,” said Neal Wavra, Sommelier and owner of Field & Main Restaurant, who served as a judge in this year’s competition.

“Very few displayed faults or were of substandard quality. While nuances in the wines could be sussed out to determine how one might score better than another, most of the wines would be accepted at the table of any of the judges. This is what I think contributes to such an increase in gold medals. Given the consistent quality, I think the fact that there were some stunning examples of Viognier, Cabernet Franc and Meritage made one think of the tasting as more world class.”  

Ampelographer, Viticulturist, consultant and all around Vinous Rockstar Lucie Morton, the Virginia Wine Lifetime Achievement award!  Long overdue for all the contributions Lucie has made to the wine industry!

Frank Britt, the original publisher of the Official Virginia Wine Lover, who passed away in May 2017, was posthumously named 2018 Virginia Wine Person of the Year.   Mr. Britt’s wife June accepted the award on his behalf.

Prior year Governor’s Cup winners include:

  • 2017: The Barns and Hamilton Station Vineyards 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2016: Keswick Vineyards 2014 Cabernet Franc Estate Reserve
  • 2015: Muse Vineyards Clio red blend
  • 2014: The Williamsburg Winery 2010 Adagio red blend
  • 2013: Barboursville Vineyards 2009 Octagon
  • 2012: Glen Manor Vineyards 2009 Hodder Hill red blend

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.  The 2018 competition marks the 36th Virginia Governor’s Cup and the seventh year of the revamped format under the leadership of head judge Jay Youmans, MW.

Congratulations to the King Family, Matthieu Finot, all medalists and award winners, the Virginia Wineries Association, the Virginia Wine Board, The Virginia Vineyards Association, and Jay Youmans for another successful Governor’s Cup.