Fifth Annual PA Sommelier Judgment Reveals Refreshing Results

Chadds Ford, PA – Sommeliers, beverage directors and other notable industry representatives from the region’s top wine programs recently convened for the fifth annual PA Sommelier Judgment, a blind tasting of vinifera wines produced in Pennsylvania using grapes grown in the state.

In May, the panel tasted an array of Pennsylvania wines from all regions of the commonwealth, sharing its marks following two extensive tasting rounds. Twenty-two wines from 13 individual Pennsylvania wineries were recognized. The ten highest scoring wines featured five white wines, three red wines, one rosé, and for the first time in the Judgment’s history, a sparkling wine made in the French pétillant naturel (“natural sparkling”) style. Albariño, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon were among the top varietals. This was the second year that an Albariño finished among the best wines. The complete breakdown of top wines and honorable mentions are listed below.

The PA Sommelier Judgment is an initiative founded by the Pennsylvania Winery Association (PWA). For the second year, the judgment was held outdoors in Delaware County, Pennsylvania to provide guests with an opportunity to safely gather in person.

Since 2017, the PWA has partnered with Scott Zoccolillo, wine director at Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group, to organize the annual event. “It was inspiring to see wineries submitting for the first time this year,” stated Zoccolillo. “Local wineries are realizing the amazing potential of white wines in Pennsylvania’s climate and geology, especially with Albariño and Grüner Veltliner,” he added. “The consistent quality of white wines being made here is something to watch going forward.”

“The Pennsylvania Winery Association would like to thank Scott Zoccolillo and his team for once again donating their time to conduct this year’s PA Sommelier Judgment,” remarked Larry Shrawder, president of the PWA. “The wide variety of exceptionally well-crafted wines submitted again this year highlight the fact that PA truly does have a taste for every palate.”

Zoccolillo was joined by 20 of his colleagues and peers, listed below, for the tasting. Round one judging criterion focused on varietal correctness (appearance, bouquet, taste, and finish) and was rated numerically. The top scoring wines moved on to round two and were judged on a one to 10 scale based on overall impression of the wine.

Bob Trimble, panelist and proprietor of La Lumière Sélections and 35+ year wine industry veteran, shared his take, “I believe events like the PA Sommelier Judgment help to focus attention on the local wineries, which is always a plus in the super competitive wine world. What is also exciting to see is that many of the restaurants are now offering at least a few local selections on their wine lists or by the glass selections, which really was not the case a few years ago.”

Despite all of the recent challenges that Pennsylvania winemakers and winery operators have endured due to COVID-19, the industry is thriving and continuing to deliver increasingly high quality wines to which the Judgment attests.

Results of the 2021 PA Sommelier Judgment

Best in State: Stony Run Winery 2019 Albariño

Best Red: Penns Woods Winery 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

Best White: Penns Woods Winery 2020 Sauvignon Blanc

Top Wines of the 2021 PA Sommelier Judgment

(listed in alphabetical order)

Galen Glen Winery 2020 Gewürtztraminer, Stone Cellar

Galen Glen Winery 2020 Grüner Veltliner, Stone Cellar

Mazza Vineyards NV South Shore Wine Company Pét-Nat Riesling

Penns Woods Winery 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

Penns Woods Winery 2020 Rosé

Penns Woods Winery 2020 Sauvignon Blanc

Presque Isle Wine Cellars 2020 Lake Erie Riesling

Stony Run Winery 2019 Albariño

Stony Run Winery 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

Waltz Vineyards Estate Winery 2017 Cabernet Franc

Honorable Mention Wines of the 2021 PA Sommelier Judgment

(listed in alphabetical order)

Armstrong Valley Winery 2018 Cabernet Franc

Binah Winery 2020 Grüner Veltliner

Dalvino Wine Company 2019 Carmine

Fero Vineyards and Winery 2019 Estate Lemberger

Grandview Vineyard 2017 Cabernet Franc

Grandview Vineyard 2017 Crimson Quartette

Nissley Vineyards 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

Nissley Vineyards 2019 Merlot Reserve

Presque Isle Wine Cellars 2019 Lake Erie Ancestrale Pét-Nat Sparkling Wine

Presque Isle Wine Cellars 2017 Lake Erie Saudade

Waltz Vineyards Estate Winery 2020 Stiegel Rosé

Wayvine Winery & Vineyard 2019 Grüner Veltliner

2021 PA Sommelier Judgment Tasting Panel

(listed in alphabetical order)

Alexandra Cherniavsky, Independent

Angelica Gutierrez, Independent

Ann Marie Miller, 375 Park Avenue Spirits

Bob Trimble, La Lumière Sélections (West Chester, PA)

Brian Freedman, Contributor: Food & Wine digital, Forbes.com and others
Carrie Lyn Strong, Strong Wine Consulting, LLC

Christopher John Marcus, Philadelphia Country Club

Emily Newman, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar (Philadelphia, PA)

Erik Segelbaum, SOMLYAY LLC

Hamilton Weaver, Skurnik Wines & Spirits

Heather Curtis, Hilton Harrisburg – 1700 Steakhouse (Harrisburg, PA)

Jamie Harrison Rubin, Independent

Jill Weber, Jet Wine Bar (Philadelphia, PA)

John Danley, Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group (Philadelphia, PA)

Len Boris, Fearless Restaurants (Philadelphia, PA)

Nick Amrani, Bronco Wine Co.

Paul Vigna, PennLive / The Patriot-News (Harrisburg, PA)

Robin Shreeves, Wine & Wonder and South Jersey Courier Post, et al

Ryan Bogdan, Eddie V’s Prime Seafood (King of Prussia, PA)

Scott Zoccolillo, Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group (Philadelphia, PA)

Zach Morris, Bloomsday (Philadelphia, PA)

About the Pennsylvania Winery Association

The Pennsylvania Winery Association (PWA) is a non-profit trade association and an advocate on behalf of the state’s growing multi-billion dollar wine industry. With 14,000+ acres of vineyards across some of the most fertile grape-growing land on the East Coast, Pennsylvania ranks fifth nationally in wine production. Pennsylvania wineries produce more than two million gallons of wine annually. To learn more about PA wineries and wine, or to plan a trip, visit PennsylvaniaWine.com.

Photo: Courtesy of Pennsylvania Wine Association

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