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San Francisco, California. September 5 - After two days of judging wines from around the world, the inaugural USA Wine Ratings competition has revealed its 2018 “Wine of the Year” – a 2015 vintage Reserve Merlot from St. Francis Winery & Vineyards in California. This wine was a huge hit with competition judges, who gave it among the highest marks possible for quality, value and packaging, the three judging criteria used to rank and evaluate the wines at the San Francisco event. In addition, St. Francis Winery & Vineyards won “Winery of the Year” for the high quality of its wines entered into the competition.
Reserve Merlot is made in Sonoma County, California by winemaker Chris Louton using grapes from the Sonoma Valley. This Merlot follows in the tradition of winemaking excellence at St. Francis Winery & Vineyards, which focuses on making luscious, elegant, fruit-driven wines from Sonoma County grapes. St. Francis Reserve wines are appellation-driven wines that are intended to highlight the power and elegance of varietals such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel.
Chris Louton, Winemaker at St. Francis Winery & Vineyards, said, “The wines from Sonoma express themselves differently than the wines from Napa. They have their own unique brightness and great intensity.” At St. Francis, Louton oversees the production of Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varietals. Louton joined the team of St. Francis in 2013 after nearly 7 years as part of the winemaking team at Napa’s Beringer Vineyards.
The USA Wine Ratings competition was launched in late 2017 by Beverage Trade Network, which organizes wine industry events all over the world. The goal of this event was to judge wines the way consumers judge them. In contrast to other wine competitions, where winemaking ability and technical expertise sometimes receive primary consideration at the expense of drinkability, the goal of the USA Wine Ratings competition was to award and celebrate the wines that wine drinkers actually want to buy, whether at a retail wine store or ordering off the menu at a restaurant.
Chief executive of Beverage Trade Network Sid Patel said, “At all the major competitions, wines are judged solely on the quality of what’s in the bottle. We wanted to take a different approach, by asking our judges to look at wines the way wine drinkers do, adding appearance and value for money into the mix.”
“The judges were impressed by every aspect of the Reserve Merlot from St. Francis Winery and Vineyards, and especially the overall quality of the wine itself,” said Patel. In fact, the Reserve Merlot from St. Francis Winery & Vineyards also won Best Wine of the Year (By Quality) for receiving the highest possible marks for quality of all wines in the competition.
Based on the initial success of this year’s USA Wine Ratings Competition, Beverage Trade Network plans to run the competition again in July 2019. The USA Wine Ratings Competition was the first of several events that Beverage Trade Network will be hosting over the next 18 months as part of a global drinks initiative to introduce wine drinkers to innovative and value-oriented wines from wine regions all over the world.