AFTON, Va. (WVIR) - The winner will be announced on April 29


Wine experts from across Virginia spent Tuesday tasting dozens of reds and whites.

They've got a tough job deciding which wines will win this year's Monticello Cup Wine Competition.

Wine experts were in Afton on Tuesday, March 12, sipping and smelling wines from across the Monticello Wine Trail.

Fourteen people with wine experience from different backgrounds made up the panel of judges to find the best wine of 2019.

“It's a privilege,” Neal Wavra, a judge, said. “It's exciting to be able to experience wines as a proprietor of a restaurant in Virginia.”

This group of judges sampled wine from 20 of the 33 wineries from the Monticello American Viticultural Area, also known as the Monticello Wine Trail.

“We've had a very good submission rate,” Chris Parker, a co-founder of the Virginia Wine Academy, said. “Almost 60 wines have been submitted and the judges are split into two panels.”

The tasting was blind so that judges couldn’t tell which wines they were sipping.

“Completely clueless, every wine is a number and that number is what I write down,” Wavra said.

This competition also allows judges like Wavra the opportunity to jot down wines he may want to serve at his restaurant.

“Certainly I take notes for, of course, the judging and the scoring perception, but I also take some personal notes that I like that wine or that wine would fit into my programming,” Wavra said. “When they announce the results I'll come back and try to figure out what wine that was I tasted because I don't know in advance, of course.”

Organizers say what makes this competition so unique is that all the grapes come from the Monticello American Viticultural Area.

And after the competition, feedback is given to the wine makers.

“We do like to give the results to the wineries of the judge's comments because it's also a good way to see what people think about the wine and how it's being perceived by the judges,” Matthiew Finot, a board member of the Monticello Wine Trail, said.

“So it really is part of raising the bar in the region because every winery, every winemaker is looking to produce the best wine that he or she can make in any one year,” Parker said.

A Monticello Cup Wine Competition winner was picked on Tuesday, but that winner won't be announced until April 29 at Vault Virginia.

That event will also kick off the Taste of the Monticello Wine Trail Festival.