Award Winning Summer Allotment


What I learned about Wine Awards at the Central Coast Wine Competition


Guest blog written by BeckyZelinski from "Barrel Room Blog" at First Crush Winemaking Experience

I have my own reservations about wine awards but realize that consumers find them important. As a fairly new winemaker, I wanted to learn more about the process so decided to enter a few wines into the Central Coast Wine Competition. And it was alearning experience.

I submitted two wines: 2008 Soul Mate and 2009 Innuendo - both Bordeaux blends into the same category: Bordeaux Blends.  

After the competition was over, I learned that most wineries submit 10-20 wines in multiple categories. I submitted two wines to the same category, which meant they were competing against each. In hindsight, maybe not the best idea but my thinking was they’d love one or the other – which apparently they did. I also learned that…contrary to what I’ve heard…not EVERY winery and EVERY wine wins an award. This was good news to me because this is one of my reservations about wine competitions.

Reservations and the importance of awards aside, we are thrilled that Soul Mate—which is in your summer wine club allotment—was awarded a Silver Medal in the Bordeaux Blend category! Based on the statistics, this is pretty big feat for a little ol’winery like First Crush! This year marked the 10th year of the Central Coast Wine Competition. More than 150 wineries participated and submitted about 550 wines. Over the past 10 years, this competition has grown to be one of the most respected wine competitions in the state. It can even boast that it has more than 20 industry specialists judging some fantastic wines.

The judges—ranging from Playboy Mansion Executive Chef, William Bloxsom-Carter, to the Sommelier at theCulinary Institute of America, Traci Dutton—are truly experts when it comes to the quality and complexity of a wine. There were 27 amazing wines tasted and judged in the Bordeaux Blend category, and after a whole day of taste, rate, repeat—the judges came to a decision that First Crush’s 2008 Soul Mate would take second honors!

When it comes to which variety to grow or which wines to blend, we always tell our customers: do what you love. As many of you know, I love Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blends. At First Crush, our Puppy Love Cabernet Sauvignon has become our flagship wine and we’ve directed our focus on Cabs, Bordeaux-style blends, as well as my own invention of the UPB category (Unique Paso Blends). 

So apparently, doing what you love does reap rewards. As a fairly “new” winemaker, winning a Siver Medal for my first Bordeaux style wine, in our first wine competition with only two wines entered is a huge success for me and First Crush. But more than that, all of us at First Crush are happy that we are able to share this accomplishment with you – our wine club members! 

Remember…sniff, sip, swishand swallow…or spit it you must, but most of all enjoy!! 



Becky Zelinski, Owner/Winemaker


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