Illinois State Fair Wine Competition Accepting Entries
More than 230 commercially-made wines, as well as 150 home-crafted wines are being evaluated next week at the Illinois State Fair Wine Competition. The competition is taking place June 16-18 at the Workforce Careers Center on the Lincoln Land Community College campus in Springfield.
This year’s competition features a wide range of categories, from fruit wines like Strawberry or Blueberry to American varieties such as ‘Concord’ and traditional varieties like ‘Cabernet Franc’. The bulk of the competition features wines made from relatively new grapes like ‘Seyval blanc’, ‘Traminette’, and ‘Frontenac’.
‘These new varieties, often described as hybrids, are the backbone of our grape and wine industry” said Bradley Beam, wine specialist for the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association. ‘They’re rapidly gaining in popularity with both new and experienced consumers, and are finding their way into restaurants and retail shops, largely due to the demands of customers.”
Twelve judges do a blind evaluation of all wines using a 20-point score card, assigning points for color, aroma, palate, finish, and overall impression. These point totals result in gold, silver and bronze medals, as well as best of class designations. All the gold-medal winning wines are then considered for top awards, including Best of Show and Governor’s Cup trophies for Illinois-grown red, white, rosé, fruit, and dessert/sparkling wines.
‘The judges are the strength of this competition”, said Beam. ‘We bring in commercial winemakers and academic experts as well as retailers and consumers. They have shown remarkable skill over the past years and have watched the quality of this industry grow by leaps and bounds. Evaluating such a large number of wines objectively is not an easy task”.
A Label and Packaging Competition, which will award wineries who excel in the ever-important marketing of their wines, will also be incorporated into this year’s wine competition. It will be held at 1p.m. on Monday afternoon, June 16th.
The rapidly-growing Illinois wine industry now has over 100 wineries, producing over 650,000 gallons of wine annually. The combination of grape and wine production and sales, as well as tourism-related regional revenue, had an impact of $692 million on the Illinois economy in 2012. This figure is likely to continue to rise as more wineries open their doors every year while others increase production levels.
For more information on the Illinois wine industry, go to www.illinoiswine.com.