News from the RVVA

San Diego County Wines Keep Getting “Better and Better”

By July 21, 2017 No Comments
Ramona, Calif., June 21, 2017

San Diego County winemakers picked up a record number of 22 gold awards, including 5 double gold, for outstanding wine at the Ramona Valley Vineyard Association (RVVA) Awards Dinner for the 2017 Lum Eisenman Wine Competition held on Wednesday, June 21, 2017, at the San Vicente Resort in Ramona, Calif.

A group of eight respected judges representing sommeliers, restaurants, winemakers, and wine educators/associations, awarded entries of red, white, and rosé wines made from grapes grown in San Diego County, including nine new winemakers that participated this year.

The Lum Eisenman Wine Competition, chaired this year by Don Bartick, vineyard owner and amateur winemaker as well as the owner of the Starry Night Inn, was created to give individual winemakers constructive feedback on their techniques and results and to improve winemaking throughout the Ramona Valley.

Bill Schweitzer, president of the Ramona Valley Vineyard Association (RVVA) said, “Our wines keep getting better and better!”

Best of Show

  • Best of Show Commercial went to Ramona Ranch Vineyard and Winery for Sangiovese Reserve 2012.
    Winemaker: Micole Moore
  • Best of Show Amateur went to Risotti Vineyard for Estate Petite Sirah 2016. Winemaker: Jerry Rios.

Gold and Double Gold Awards

Gold awards grew in the past four years from a total of 5 in 2014 to a record number of 22 this year, including 5 double gold medals designated when an entire 4-judge panel agrees the wine to be gold quality. In the past four years, only one wine has ever received a double gold.

The following wines received gold awards (double gold indicated):

Ramona Valley

Crystal Hill – Stone Lake Merlot 2016
Hatfield Creek Vineyards & Winery – Estate Zinfandel 2016
Hellanback Ranch & Vineyards – Sauvignon Blanc 2016

Ramona Ranch Vineyard & Winery:

  • Sangiovese Reserve 2012 – Double Gold and Best of Show – Commercial
  • Twilight 2012
  • Viognier 2012
  • Petite Sirah 2012

Highland Valley

  • Altipiano Vineyard and Winery
  • Sangiovese 2015 – Double Gold
  • Estate Barbera NV – Double Gold

Domaine Artefact

  • As the Crow Flies 2015
  • Les Beaux Blancs 2016
  • Estate Grenache Rose 2015

Espinosa Vineyards & Winery

  • In the Black NV
  • Grenache Noir “Rosado” 2016
  • Falanghina 2016

ZXQ Vineyards – Red Wine Blend 2015

North County

Fallbrook Winery

  • 33N Estate Rose 2016 – Double Gold
  • 33N Estate Syrah
Urban Winery

San Pasqual Winery

  • Merlot 2014
  • Rosé of Cabernet Franc 2016
  • Risotti Vineyards – Estate Petite Sirah 2016 – Double Gold and Best of Show – Amateur
  • North Park Cellars – NPC Tempranillo 2014
Experienced Judges

Double-blind tasting by eight experienced judges selected by the judge coordinator Ron Novak, founder of the New York Society of Wine Educators and What’s in Your Glass, included:

  • Brad Bruce – Wine Educator at SD Community Colleges, Current Program Director SD Wine Guild (AWS)
  • Stephen Chappelle – Regional VP, American Wine Society (AWS), San Diego; Wine and Beverage Mgr., Restaurant Depot.
  • Maurice DiMarino – Certified Sommelier; Wine Manager, Cohn Restaurant Group.
  • Mike Menghini – Winemaker & Owner, Menghini Winery in Julian.
  • Justin Mund – Winemaker, Orfila Winery, Escondido.
  • Carol Novak – Founding Member, Society of Wine Educators; Judge: Finger Lakes International Wine Competition.
  • Lisa Redwine – Advanced Sommelier; Wine Instructor, SDSU; Annual “SommCon” Chair; Founder, VP, “Women Wine Alliance”; Sales Rep., Regal Wine Co.
  • Tami Wong – Certified Sommelier; “Best new SOMM 2014” (Wine & Spirits Magazine); Sommelier, ‘The Fishery’ restaurant.

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

About Lum Eisenman

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.