At a ceremony this evening at the historic Main Street Station and Trainshed in Richmond, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam presented the 2020 Governor’s Cup to Carl and Erin DiManno, Peter and Nancy Deliso, owners of 868 Estate Vineyards, and team for their 2017 Vidal Blanc Passito.

Situated on a 120-acre farm in the historic town of Purcellville in Loudoun County, 868 Estate Vineyards was established in 2012 and is home 21 acres of vines (four non-bearing until 2021/2022) and the Grandale Restaurant.

The 2017 868 Vidal Blanc Passito bested 531 other wines entered in this year’s competition.  

“We’re honored to be the first Loudoun-grown, Loudoun-made wine to win the Governor’s Cup,” said DiManno by phone.

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Made in the ‘appassimento’ style (Italian term for drying  harvested grapes to concentrate the flavors), the 868 Vidal Blanc is the first dessert wine to win the Governor’s Cup since the competition was revamped in 2011.  It’s also the first wine made from a non-vinifera (hybrid) grape to win the Cup and the first winning wine made entirely from fruit grown in Loudoun County.

Sixty four of the 532 wines entered scored 90+ points earning a gold medal this year compared to 58 gold medals awarded in the 2019 competition (of 510 wines entered).  

“The Governor’s Cup is a showcase of the great growers and winemakers in the state,” said George Hodson, President of the Virginia Wineries Association and CEO of Veritas Vineyards.  “This year’s Governor’s Cup is an excellent example of how wine diversity and quality continues to improve.”

Wines from the 2017 vintage, widely considered one of the best in Virginia, dominated this year’s competition with 42 gold medals and eight of the 12 wines in the Governor’s Case.  

Charlottesville-based Michael Shaps, scored a total of 14 gold medals in this year’s competition — seven under his own ‘Michael Shaps’ label and seven for clients.

“Having 14 wines win gold medals with three in the Governor’s Case this year is a major accomplishment,” said Shaps.  “After making wine for 25 years and winning many awards, I’m equally excited for my hard working team and our clients.”

Justin Rose, winemaker at Rosemont of Virginia and past president of the Virginia Wineries Association (2015-2019), was named the 2020 Virginia Wine Person of the Year.   

Rose earned a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Virginia but never worked as an engineer.  Instead, he went west to work harvest in Napa and then studied Enology at Napa Valley College.

Rose and team planted the initial 24 acres of vines at Rosemont in 2003 and 2004 and today farm 27 acres planted to 12 different varieties.  

Today, Rose is one of the most respected winemakers in the state and Rosemont of Virginia is one of the most regarded wineries.

Rose said of this year’s competition, “It’s exciting that we’ve had a larger variety of producers represented amongst gold medal winners and that a wine made from a French–American hybrid grape won the Cup.  I think wines made from non-vinifera grapes will play an important role in the future of Virginia wine.”

George Hodson was awarded the newly-established David King Advocate of the Year award and Randy Phillips of Cave Ridge Vineyard and Winery was awarded the Gordon Murchie Lifetime Achievement Award.

Prior year Governor’s Cup winners include: 

  • 2019: Horton Vineyards 2016 Petit Manseng
  • 2018:  King Family Vineyards 2014 Meritage
  • 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 2020 competition marks the 38th Virginia Governor’s Cup and the ninth year of the revamped format under the leadership of head judge Jay Youmans, MW.

Congratulations to 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.

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