Winners have been announced in the 2022 International Women’s Wine & Spirits Competition, the only competition in the United States (possibly the world) to feature exclusively female judges. The competition is open to makers of all genders, with its focus on identifying specific wines and spirits that women consumers will enjoy and, ultimately, purchase.
This year, Louis M. Martini 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon (Sonoma County, Calif.) was chosen as Best of the Best wine, with judges commenting: “Rich, concentrated”; “nice berry”; “Complex and lengthy.”
Now in its fifteenth year, this prestigious international challenge this year added spirits to its lineup. The first-ever winner in this category is Oregon City, Oregon-based Trail Distilling’s Trillium Pink Pinot Gin, which, judges raved, is “spicy, complex and creamy.”
The competition brings together esteemed judging panels made up exclusively of professional women winemakers, distillers, sommeliers, retail buyers, beverage industry educators and journalists. The judges identify not only the best wines and spirits submitted, but also those they feel would appeal most to women buyers and consumers.
“Every year, I’m impressed with the dedication our judges bring to their task,” says Debra Del Fiorentino, founder of Wine Competitions Management & Production, which organizes and hosts the competition. “Most [of them] are long-time, experienced judges, but there’s something different about the atmosphere at this competition. I don’t know that I would call it ‘female energy,’ but there’s definitely much more collaboration and discussion before choosing winners.”
In addition to its traditional medals and Best Of Show awards — and despite being open to all winemakers and distillers regardless of gender — IWWSC also presents an extra honor to Woman Winemaker and Woman Distiller of the Year.
Sue Tipton, owner/grower/winemaker from Acquiese Winery & Vineyards in Lodi, California, is this year’s top woman winemaker. Her 2021 Picpcoul Blanc impressed judges with its “Tangy, juicy, European style and minerality.” The Best Woman Distiller is Trail Distilling’s co-owner Sara Brennan, who created the overall spirits winner, Trail Distilling Trillium Pink Pinot Gin.
IWWSC : BEST OF SHOW WINES
Best of the Best, Best of Show Red Wine
Louis M. Martini 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon (GG, 99 pts.)
Best of Show White Wine
Matrix Winery Estate Chardonnay (GG, 99)
Judges: “It’s classic”; “Silky, long and complex”; “Supple and rich.”
Best Woman Winemaker
Acquiese Winery & Vineyards 2021 Picpoul Blanc (GG, 98)
Best of Show Sparkling Wine (tie)
Domaine Carneros Estate Brut (GG, 97)
Judges: “Nice, traditional, well balanced”; “Quince paste, pear, yellow delicious apple”; “White cherry.” (and)
Bryn Mawr Vineyards Sparkling Rosé (GG, 97)
Judges: “Elegant purity of fruit”; “Strawberry”; “Balanced, lingering finish”; “Aromatics jump out of the glass.”
Best of show Dessert / Late Harvest Wine
Gallo Family Vineyards Sweet Peach (GG, 96)
Judges: “Peachy keen!” “Fun confetti”; “Party.”
Best of Show Rosé Wine
Sonoma-Cutrer Estate Rosé of Pinot Noir (GG, 96)
Judges: “Berries, plum and citrus”; “Nice amount of CO2”; “Pleasant mouthfeel.”
(Photo: Sue Tipton, Acquiese Winery and Vineyards)
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