Loudoun’s wine industry grabbed the spotlight Tuesday night in Richmond when Gov. Ralph Northam awarded the Virginia Wineries Association’s top award—the 2020 Governor’s Cup—to 868 Estate Vineyards for its 2017 Vidal Blanc Passito.
All wines in the annual Governor’s Cup competition must be made from 100 percent Virginia fruit, but 868’s entry is the first winner made entirely from Loudoun County fruit.
“I am thrilled to award the Governor’s Cup to Carl DiManno and congratulate the whole team at 868 Estate Vineyards on their sweet finish,” Northam said. “The Vidal Blanc Passito embodies both the experimentation and artistry that has made Virginia the leading East Coast destination for wine. This year’s Governor’s Cup case is a strong reflection of our world-class wine industry and the distinctive wines being produced in our Commonwealth.”
“We started this journey just over eight years ago with a desire to build a premium vineyard and winery in Northern Virginia,” said Peter Deliso, 868 founder and chairman. “It’s a pleasure to see our team win such a prestigious award and receive recognition for their hard work, creativity, and perseverance.”
In all, DiManno took home four medals from the competition. The Vidal Blanc Passito is produced by the Italian appassimento technique of partially drying grapes to concentrate flavor prior to fermentation.
“The 2017 Passito was the culmination of a concerted winemaking effort,” he said. “I take a very hands-on approach in the winery, and a lot of love and hard work went into this wine, but it was well worth it. I am thrilled that Loudoun’s wines are getting the recognition that they deserve.”
In addition to its award-winning wine program, 868 Estate Vineyards also is known for its support of the arts and its companion restaurant and catering business, Grandale Vintner’s Table Restaurant, which is co-located on the 120-acre property.
“We have worked hard to bring together quality artisans in wine, food, art, and music,” Deliso said. “This award is a statement to our winemaking, but you’ll find this same dedication in our restaurant, art program, concert series, and music program. To have the full experience, you should visit 868 and see how it all comes together in a welcoming environment.”
It was one of nine wines from Loudoun wineries to win gold medals during the 2020 Virginia Governor’s Cup competition. They were among 40 wineries across the commonwealth to meet the top scoring threshold after four weeks of judging by 19 experts who evaluated 530 entries in the 28th year of the program.
Breaux Vineyards took home two gold medals, for its 2015 Nebbiolo and its 2016 Merlot. Other gold medal Loudoun wines are Greenhill Vineyards’ 2016 Mythology; Lost Creek Winery’s 2017 Cabernet Franc; Sunset Hills Vineyard’s 2017 Mosaic; The Barns at Hamilton Station Vineyards’ 2017 Meritage; Winery 32’s 2016 Thoroughbred Blend; and Zephaniah Farm Vineyard’s 2017 Friendship.
Overall, 21 Loudoun wineries and vineyards were recognized for their high-quality wines.