Wine Buzz: State Fair competition grows; judging a big task

Published: Wednesday, Jun. 13, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 3D
Last Modified: Wednesday, Jun. 13, 2012 - 10:12 am

Thursday morning it was time to rise and shine – and get ready to judge some wine.

Day two of the California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition had arrived, and at 8:45 a.m. a flight of tempranillo awaited evaluation.

I'd been invited to be a guest judge for the morning before skedaddling back to The Bee; the other judges would be there for the rest of the day to get this mammoth job done.

While fatigued palates and the stained clothes that come from extended wine judging fall well into the category of First World problems, judging the California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition is serious business. Head judge G.M. "Pooch" Pucilowski starts each day with a quick lecture to judges, many of whom work as winemakers or industry professionals.

And then it's time to swirl, sniff, taste and spit – many times over. This year's competition featured nearly 2,900 wines, up 250 from 2011. It takes three days to evaluate all that wine, which comes from producers all over California, and about 20,000 glasses that need washing.

As soon as the winners are announced, the results will be available at

You can taste the big winners for yourself on Aug. 18 at California's Grape & Gourmet. This food-and- wine fiesta will be held at Cal Expo's Buildings A & B, from 3 to 6 p.m.

For more information: or call (916) 263-3636.

New Lodi tasting room

If you've dropped into downtown Lodi for a bite and glass of wine, chances are you've stopped into the Dancing Fox Winery & Bakery (203 S. School St., Lodi). The Dancing Fox used to make wine in the back of this building, but outgrew the space and moved its production operations.

It is opening Olde Ice House Cellars, a 15,000- square-foot facility at 27 E. Locust St. in Lodi. The building will house Dancing Fox's physical winery and storage facilities, and also serve as a tasting room for Jessie's Grove Winery. Dancing Fox will continue to use its original location for tasting and food.

"It's pretty cool," said Gregg Lewis, Dancing Fox's president and winemaker. "We have some old wood where they used to slide ice around and took some of that and put it in the tasting room. We think it's going to be good for Lodi."


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