Tradition and tenacity were honored Saturday in three of the four wines to win top honors at the Amador County Fair's 30th annual commercial wine competition in Plymouth. The three were made by vintners who long have believed in the styles and who have worked diligently for decades to show that they have a place in the Sierra foothills, even if none was a zinfandel, a barbera or a syrah, the varietals most closely identified with the region.
A couple of other notes from Saturday's competition:
- Representatives of Ren Aquisition Inc., which a year ago bought financially troubled Renwood Winery in the Shenandoah Valley, have been talking the talk about how they intend for the recast property to set the standard for vineyard-designated zinfandels. At Saturday's competition, they pretty much showed that they're ready to walk the walk. Of seven zinfandels that Renwood entered in the judging, five won gold medals, while the other two won silver. All five gold-medal zinfandels carry an Amador County appellation, along with such proprietary or vineyard names as Timberline, Gold Crest, Grandpere and Ingenuity.
- The Jeff Runquist Wines 2010 Amador County Dick Cooper Vineyards Barbera, named best red wine at two large competitions in Southern California in recent weeks, didn't win any high honors on its home turf, but it didn't do too badly, either. Both it and Runquist's 2010 Amador County Barbera won double-gold medals, meaning that all judges on the panel to evaluate the wines agreed that they warranted gold. Runquist also won gold medals for its 2010 Amador County Pioneer Hill Vineyard Sangiovese and its 2010 El Dorado County Lemley Ranch Vineyard Charbono.
- No class was more competitive than zinfandel, which drew 81 entries. This reflects zinfandel's long standing in Amador County's vineyards. By the end of the day, just one stood alone as the Best Amador Zinfandel, and that would be the solid and lively Terra d'Oro Winery 2009 Amador County Zinfandel.
- The Amador County Fair iself runs July 26-29. This year's theme rocks: "Barn in the USA."