Governor Terry McAuliffe awarded the 2016 Virginia Wineries Association’s (VWA) Governor’s Cup to Keswick Vineyards for its 2014 Cabernet Franc Estate Reserve, a pure Cabernet Franc varietal. This award marks the second Virginia Governor’s Cup for Keswick Vineyards, who received its first in 2009 for its 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. The Governor’s Cup was awarded Monday evening, February 22 at the Hotel John Marshall.
Speaking at the Governor’s Cup awards ceremony, Governor McAuliffe said, “I am honored to award the 2016 Governor’s Cup award to Keswick Vineyards’ winemaker Stephen Barnard and owners, Al and Cindy Schornberg. Their work at Keswick Vineyards embodies those characteristics that are imperative for Virginia farmers and winemakers: an entrepreneurial spirt, a drive to excel, a healthy tolerance for risk, and a desire to see what Virginia’s land and terroir can do. It’s no secret the Commonwealth’s wine industry has experienced tremendous growth both in quality and quantity in recent years. Such growth has an enormous impact on Virginia in terms of economic development and job creation, especially in rural areas, and the craft beverage industry as a whole is playing a key role in helping build the new Virginia economy. I offer my congratulations to Keswick Vineyards and its 2014 Cabernet Franc Estate Reserve – a beautiful 100% estate-grown wine.”
The Keswick 2014 Cabernet Franc Estate Reserve is a 100% varietal Cabernet Franc. According to the winemaker’s tasting notes, “this wine is light and graceful, but also powerful – dense with black pepper and exotic spices that turn into darker fruits as the wine is aerated. The wood tannins are firm, yet are well balanced with ample acidity and fruit. The palate is savory with accenting mocha, brambleberry, and bitter chocolate tones that are punctuated with a long finish.”
“It has always been my dream to make a great red wine from the soils of Virginia, and my wife and I settled here to establish Keswick Vineyards,” said Al Schornberg, proprietor of Keswick Vineyards. “Thomas Jefferson noted that cultivators of the earth are the most virtuous and independent citizens, and so I am very proud to be honored with our second Governor’s Cup win for our 2014 Cabernet Franc. I am grateful for our team at Keswick Vineyards, our son-in-law and winemaker Stephen Barnard, and the entire wine community in Virginia for turning my dream into reality.”
Stephen Barnard, winemaker at Keswick Vineyards commented, “The 2014 vintage will stand out in the years to come, I believe, as one of Virginia’s finest. With clean ripe fruit harvested, our intention was to stand back and let the soul of the vineyard shine through in the wine. As we taste the wines developing in bottle, I am happy that we achieved what we set out to do. These wines are authentic and communicate the spirit of our winery, vineyard, and souls.”
“I join Governor McAuliffe in congratulating Al, Cindy, Stephen and the entire Keswick family for their achievement, one that will help bring more attention to Virginia’s vibrant craft beverage industry,” said Todd Haymore, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry. “The development of the wine industry over the last decade has made it one of the fastest growing sectors of Virginia’s agricultural economy. Today, there are more than 275 wineries in Virginia and 360 vineyards that cultivate more than 3,500 acres of grapes. The Governor’s Cup winners show that advancements in Virginia wine quality are helping to grow the industry’s footprint in the Commonwealth and its reputation in the global marketplace.”
The 2016 Virginia Governor’s Cup Competition was conducted over four weeks of preliminary tastings, held at the Capital Wine School in Washington, D.C in January. The final round of tastings was held at The Jefferson Hotel, in Richmond in early February. The Governor’s Cup award winner was selected from the 2016 Governor’s Cup Case, a selection of the top 12 scoring wines chosen from 432 entries of both red and white wines, from 95 wineries. The esteemed panel of judges, including Jay Youmans – one of only 38 Masters of Wine (MW) in the U.S. – had the difficult task of ranking each wine based on a unified scoring system.
In addition to Keswick Vineyards’ 2014 Cabernet Franc Estate Reserve, the other 11 wines included in the 2016 Governor’s Cup Case are:
- 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
This year’s results show a wide variety of wines, highlighting the diversity of grapes growing with distinction in Virginia’s climate and soil. Two wines hail from the Shenandoah Valley, five from Northern Virginia, and five from the Central Virginia area. Several wineries are making their inaugural showing this year in the Governor’s Cup case, including Naked Mountain Winery, Stone Tower Winery, Granite Heights Winery, and Cardinal Point Winery.
Now in its 34th year, the Virginia Governor’s Cup competition was revamped in 2012 to become one of the most stringent and thorough wine competitions in the country. The competition is a result of a partnership among the gubernatorial-appointed Virginia Wine Board (VWB), the Virginia Vineyards Association (VVA), and the VWA, which owns and manages the competition. Any wine made from 100% Virginia fruit was eligible for the competition, while ciders and fruit wines had their own category and medalists. All entries included an affidavit with a certification of 100% Virginia fruit and vineyard particulars, including grower names and location, as well as information on alcohol, acidity or basicity (pH), and residual sugar.
Both the Governor’s Cup Competition and the resulting Governor’s Cup Case boost the visibility of the state’s highest-scoring wines through various programs and exposure to top industry critics and tastemakers. Wine included in the Governor’s Cup Case will be used by the Virginia Wine Board Marketing Office for marketing purposes in Virginia, across the country, and around the world. A number of cases will be shipped to select wine media, promoting Virginia wines to a larger national and international audience. The award-winning wines will be used for education purposes at Virginia winemaker roundtable discussions to improve overall quality of Virginia wines. Governor’s Cup Case wines will also be used by Governor McAuliffe on select domestic and international marketing missions and other events designed to promote Virginia’s burgeoning wine and winery tourism industries.