Consumer Wine Awards move to Sacramento

Sacramento will play host to a wine competition that depends on amateur wine lovers instead of professionals to pick its winners. The Consumer Wine Awards, previously held at the Lodi Grape Festival grounds, is coming to a to-be-determined local venue on April 11.

The seventh annual competition will be hosted in a partnership with the Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau, with winning wines to sampled on June 6 at Grape Escape, the popular food and wine tasting event traditionally held at Cesar Chavez Plaza. While Grape Escape focused on wines from the greater Sacramento region, its partnership with the Consumer Wine Awards means wines from a greater swath of the state, and even international offerings, will be poured. A category of wines specific to the Sacramento area will also be featured.

The Consumer Wine Awards are something of the antithesis to the California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition, which gathers wine professionals from around the country to serve as judges. The Consumer Wine Awards, co-founded by Tim Hanni, a well known Master of Wine, gathers amateur wine lovers to select the best wines.

More than 100 amateur judges have been utilized at previous editions of the Consumer Wine Awards. Prospective judges take a survey to determine their wine preferences, and if selected, will judge wines based on their “vinotype,” including favorite varietals and fondness for sweetness or dry tastes.

With its partnership with the Consumer Wine Awards, organizers are looking to expand Grape Escape into a three-day event to possibly include a winemaker dinner and Sunday brunch. While Grape Escape generally showcases between 45 and 60 wines, this year’s version is expected to include 100 wineries.

“The Consumer Wine Awards fits in with what we’re trying to do with farm-to-fork and in theory could bring in more wines for Grape Escape,” said Mike Testa of the Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s a regional event but it could bring in more national and international wines.”

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