“The California State Fair Wine Competition is not only a ranking of the state’s best wines as viewed by our judges, but also a reflection of the growing quality of wine as we continue to have a wide impact on all Californians, and on the rest of the country.”
- Norbert J. Bartosik, General Manager/CEO California State Fair
The California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition is the oldest and most prestigious wine competition in North America. The competition is open to all California bonded wineries selling retail and each year, thousands of California wines are entered into the competition for the chance to win one of many coveted awards from the State Fair’s panel of expert wine judges.
For over 150 years, the California State Fair has recognized the best wines of the state and the dedication of wineries and vintners in the Golden State’s viticulture and enology industry. Award winners truly are the best of the best! All winning wines are featured and available at Save Mart Supermarkets after the announcement of the awards.
In 2011, more than 600 wineries entered nearly 3,000 wines into the annual judging contest.
About the Judges
The winners are determined by panels of judges that come from a wide range of backgrounds and are reviewed before they are permitted to evaluate the wines. From wine educators, wine makers, wine journalists, retailers and wholesalers to wine collectors and those from the restaurant trade, these knowledgeable judges share their personal opinions before reaching a consensus to determine the award winning wines.
Wine Competition Information
Competition & Judging Objectives
The California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition has been called the “ authentic granddaddy of American wine competitions.” First held in 1855, it is, by far, the oldest wine competition limited to vitis vinifera grapes in America, and is firmly established as the most prestigious of American Wine Competitions. According to industry leaders, it is the most meaningful of the major competitions restricted to California wines.
In addition, the uniqueness of this competition gives further credibility to its future within the industry. It is the only competition that requires all wines to be entered based on the viticultural area (also known as an appellation) where the grapes are grown, not where the winery is located. To further focus on the event’s unique attributes and on the importance of the wine grapes, duplicate awards are presented to each single vineyard grape grower or the winery estate vineyard manager. This applies to all award-winning wines from single vineyards or estate vineyards. This is the first wine competition in the world ever to honor the grape growers and vineyard managers this way.
The objectives of the California Exposition and State Fair Wine Judging are:
- To encourage and stimulate the continuing improvement in the quality of California wines and vineyards throughout the entire state.
- To promote and enrich the reputation of California as one of the finest wine growing areas in the world by demonstrating, through the judging, the ability of California wine grape growers and wineries to produce outstanding wines of great quality.
- To increase the awareness of consumers throughout the world so they may be better able to identify California appellations.
- To increase the number of fully qualified wine judges from the ranks of consumers, winemakers, restaurateurs, retailers, and professional educators. This is accomplished by testing prospective judges to replicate their results consistently and to test for sensitivity to wine flaws.
- To provide a system of judging combining fairness, accuracy and simplicity to assess standards of quality for California wine.
- To recognize California wines of superior quality produced and bottled specifically for commercial retail distribution in California, the United States and internationally.