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San Diego County Lum Eisenman Wine Competition Awards Record Number of Medals

By September 28, 2018 No Comments

Sponsored by Ramona Valley Vineyard Association (RVVA)

Ramona, Calif., June 22, 2018

San Diego County winemakers picked up a record number of medals for outstanding wine at the Ramona Valley Vineyard Association (RVVA) Awards Dinner for the ninth San Diego County Lum Eisenman Wine Competition on Wednesday, June 20, 2018, held at the San Vicente Resort.

An expanded group of judges of three panels-of-four rated an all-time high number of 114 entries of red, white, and rosé wines made from grapes grown in San Diego County, including from wineries in Escondido, Fallbrook, Julian, Lakeside, Ramona Valley, and The Wineries on Highway 94. They awarded a record number 9 double gold and 23 gold medals.

RVVA President Bill Schweitzer said, “The awards are not based on a bell curve. Medals are awarded to the wines that deserve a medal ranking. That says our wines are continuing to get better and better.”

As part of the awards ceremony, keynote speaker Lars Leicht, of Tuscany’s Castello Banfi, highlighted key learning experiences from a thirty-year-plus process of bringing Italian wine to American wine aficionados accustomed to French wine. He recommended that winemakers persevere to make the wine best suited to their climate and skills. He reminded his audience that “every tradition was once an innovation.” Paraphrasing Shakespeare, he concluded, “To thine own ‘wine’ be true.”

Double Gold and Gold Medals

Best of Show, Commercial

Fallbrook Winery, Josh McCourt & Evan Parker, Winemakers (Fallbrook)

Best of Show, Amateur

Pax Ramona, Max Elliott, Winemaker (Ramona)

Double Gold, Commercial

  • Fallbrook Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 (Fallbrook)
  • Fallbrook Winery, Sangiovese 2014 (Fallbrook)
  • Granite Lion Cellars, Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (Highway 94, Jamul)
  • Granite Lion Cellars, Melody Lane 2017 (Highway 94, Jamul)
  • Hatfield Creek Vineyards & Winery, Estate Petite Sirah 2015 (Ramona)
  • Julian Winery, Viognier 2017 (Julian)
  • Schwaesdall Winery, Zinfandel Port 2007 (Ramona)
  • Vineyard Grant James, Rosé of Syrah 2017 (Ramona)

Double Gold, Amateur

  • Pax Ramona, Estate Montepulciano 2016 (Ramona)

Gold, Commercial

  • Casi Cielo Winery, Cabernet Franc 2015 (Highway 94, Jamul)
  • Castelli Family Vineyards, Estate Syrah 2014 (Highway 94, Jamul)
  • Crystall Hill Vineyard, Jensen Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 (Ramona)
  • Dulzura Vineyard & Winery, Dos Amigas 2017 (Highway 94, Dulzura)
  • Dulzura Vineyard & Winery, Riesling 2017 (Highway 94, Dulzura)
  • Espinosa Vineyards, Reserva Especial 2015 (Escondido)
  • Espinosa Vineyards, Estate Tempranillo 2015 (Escondido)
  • Fallbrook Winery, Rosé 2017 (Fallbrook)
  • Granite Lion Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 (Highway 94, Jamul)
  • Granite Lion Cellars, Zinfandel 2015 (Highway 94, Jamul)
  • Hatfield Creek Vineyards & Winery, Estate Fonzi Field Blend 2017 (Ramona)
  • Highland Valley Vineyards, Craftsman Cuvee II 2014 (Escondido)
  • Pamo Valley Winery, Estate Sangiovese Unfiltered 2016 (Ramona)
  • Principe di Tricase Winery, Estate Nebbiolo 2016 (Ramona)
  • Schwaesdall Winery, Craignan Port 2006 (Ramona)
  • Schwaesdall Winery, Tawny Port 2005 (Ramona)
  • Trevi Hills Winery, Trevi Hills Vineyard Rosé of Sangiovese 2017 (Lakeside)
  • Trevi Hills Winery, Trevi Hills Vineyard Syrah 2016 (Lakeside)
  • Vineyard Grant James, Viognier 2017 (Ramona)
  • Westfall Winery, Estate Fiano 2017 (Highway 94, Campo)

Gold, Amateur

  • Nicholson Family Vineyards, Estate Emerge (Tannat) 2016
  • Panacea, Red Blend #1 2017
  • Scanlan Vineyard, Late Harvest Zinfandel Fortified 2017

Expanded Panel of Judges: Three Panels of Four Judges

Ron Nowak, Judge Coordinator and Chief Judge, recruited a group of judges for this year’s competition. They included representatives from the American Wine Society, sommeliers, wine education, and winemakers. Based on their background, the judges were evenly distributed in three panels for judging. They met and rated submitted wines on June 6th, 2018. Judges included:

American Wine Society

  • Jay Bileti – Regional VP, Arizona; On the Board of Directors as Member Services Director
  • Stephen Chappell – Former Regional VP, Founder San Diego Chapter
  • Brad Bruce – Program Director, San Diego Wine Guild


  • Lisa Redwine – SOMMCon Chair, Advanced Somm; Account Exec., Regal Wine Co.
  • Maurice DiMarino – Wine Director, Cohn Restaurant Group
  • Tami Wong – Wholesale Wine Rep: “Wine in Tami Time”
  • TK Clemons – Tasting Room, Orfila Vineyards & Winery
  • Stephen Ansley – Certified Specialist of Wine (SWE), Holiday Wine Cellar

Wine Educator

  • Carol Nowak – Founding Member: Society of Wine Educators


  • Joe Cullen – Winemaker, Owner, Cactus Star Vineyard
  • Mike Menghini – Winemaker, Owner, Menghini Winery
  • John York – Winemaker, Owner, Hellanback Ranch and Vineyard
About Lars Leicht, Keynote Speaker

Lars Leicht, Trade Development Director and 32-year company veteran at Tuscany Banfi Vintners served in a variety of national and international positions. His role today is a hybrid of past responsibilities in key support for the Banfi team.

Since 1998 Lars guides annual trips to the vineyards and wineries of Italy for the Guild of Sommeliers, hosting over 100 sommeliers to date as Italian wine culture sherpa. He was translator and advisor for the movie “SOMM” and made a cameo appearance in the sequel “SOMM II: Into the Bottle.” Lars developed and is “Dean” of Cru Artisan College, an educational initiative touring multiple winemakers in key US cities with insightful seminars and exceptional tastings. He has led cooking and wine classes at Central Market in Texas, PubliX in Florida, and Degustibus Cooking School in New York, in addition to standing annual appointments to lead seminars at Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Business, Columbia University Law School, and the North Miami campus of Johnson and Wales University.

About the San Diego County Lum Eisenman Wine Competition

The San Diego County Lum Eisenman Wine Competition, chaired the last two years by Don Bartick, was created and is sponsored by the Ramona Valley Vineyard Association to give individual winemakers constructive feedback on their techniques and results in order to improve winemaking throughout San Diego County. Don is a retired mechanical engineer. He and his wife Arline became interested in growing wine grapes and making wine in 2005. They planted four varietals of grapes and built a small winery within their home property as a hobby. In 2010 they converted their home into a small B&B that provides guests with a winegrower experience on a small scale. Today they are considered amateur winemakers.

Lum Eisenman was born and raised in Riverside, Calif. A physicist by profession, he migrated to Del Mar in 1971 with his wife. From youth, he was an amateur winemaker and became a mentor for San Diego vineyard owners, and the founder of the San Diego Amateur Winemaking Society—and he is always a teacher. He has written dozens of articles and The Home Winemakers Manual is considered an authority by many throughout the United States.

About Ramona Valley Vineyard Association (RVVA)

The Ramona Valley Vineyard Association (RVVA) was founded in 2001 “to promote, protect and enhance the Ramona Valley AVA, our wines, vintners, and community.” The RVVA was largely responsible for creating the Ramona Valley American Viticulture Area (AVA) in 2006 and the sponsoring organization for the effort to create the Boutique Winery Ordinance in 2010. Current President: Bill Schweitzer. For more information see:

Media contact: Joyce Strand 408-210-2422