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Governor's Cup Winners
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 Commonwealth of Virginia

Office of Governor Ralph S. Northam


Office of the Governor, Contact: Alena Yarmosky, Email:


Virginia Wine Board Marketing Office, Contact: Annette Boyd, Email: Annette.Boyd@Virginiawine.orgPhone: (804) 402-1896


Virginia’s 868 Estate Vineyards Earns 2020 Governor’s Cup® with 2017 Vidal Blanc Passito


Top-ranked dessert wine joins 11 other gold medal-winning wines in the 2020 Governor’s Cup Case® ~


RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam tonight awarded the Virginia Wineries Association’s 2020 Governor’s Cup® to 868 Estate Vineyards for their 2017 Vidal Blanc Passito. The winning wine was unveiled at the annual Governor’s Cup Celebration, which took place this evening at the Main Street Station in Richmond.


All wines in the Governor’s Cup competition must be made from 100 percent Virginia fruit, but the 868 Vidal ‘Passito’ represents the first winner made entirely from Loudoun County fruit. Produced by the Italian ‘appassimento’ technique of partially drying grapes to concentrate flavor, the winemaker halts the fermentation early to retain the natural grape sugar in the final product.


“I am thrilled to award the Governor’s Cup to Carl DiManno and congratulate the whole team at 868 Estate Vineyards on their sweet finish,” said Governor Northam. “The Vidal Blanc Passito embodies both the experimentation and artistry that has made Virginia the leading East Coast destination for wine. This year’s Governor’s Cup case is a strong reflection of our world-class wine industry and the distinctive wines being produced in our Commonwealth.”


Alongside 868 Estate Vineyards 2017 Vidal Blanc Passito, the 11 wines included in the 2020 Governor’s Cup Case are:


  • Afton Mountain Vineyards Tradition (2017)
  • Barboursville Vineyards Octagon (2014)
  • Barboursville Vineyards Vermentino Reserve (2018)
  • Delaplane Cellars Williams Gap (2017)
  • Lake Anna Winery Tannat (2017)
  • Michael Shaps Wineworks Meritage (2016)
  • Pippin Hill Vineyards Petit Verdot (2017)
  • Pollak Vineyards Cabernet Franc Reserve (2017)
  • Pollak Vineyards Smuggler (2017)
  • Rockbridge Vineyard Vd’Or (2017)
  • Shenandoah Vineyards Shenandoah Reserve Red (2017)


“I am pleased to see a team like that of 868 Estate Vineyards win with a hybrid grape—a rarity for the competition,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “With two dessert wines in the Governor’s Cup case alongside creative blends with grapes such as Tannat, it is clear that 2020 is another unique year for Virginia wine.”

More than 530 Virginia wines were submitted into this year’s Governor’s Cup competition. A panel of 19 judges, directed by Jay Youmans one of only 51 Masters of Wine (MW) in the United States, sampled the wines over a four-week period and awarded gold medals to those scoring 90 points or higher.


Within the case, there is wide representation from most regions of Virginia, most notably Central Virginia, with eight wines included. Northern Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley are also represented with two wines each. The broad geographical diversity highlights Virginia winemakers’ ability to listen to their land and navigate the Commonwealth’s varied landscape and conditions.


At Tuesday’s celebration, the Virginia Wineries Association also announced its Industry Awards, which are presented to industry members who show excellence in their craft and act as advocates for Virginia Wine. This year’s winners are:


  • Virginia Wine Person of the Year: Justin Rose of Rosemont Winery, who helped establish and currently runs the 27-acre vineyard and its 6,000 annual case production
  • David King Advocate of the Year: George Hodson, CEO of Veritas Vineyards and Winery, president and principal of Flying Fox Vineyards, and president of the Monticello Wine Trail
  • Gordon Murchie Lifetime Achievement Award: Randy Phillips, general manager of Cave Ridge Vineyard and Winery in the Shenandoah Valley

Now in its 38th year, the Governor’s Cup competition is a result of a partnership among the Virginia Wine Board, the Virginia Vineyards Association, and the Virginia Wineries Association, which owns and manages the competition. Ciders and fruit wines have their own category and medalists.

According to the Virginia Tourism Corporation, more than 2.2 million tourists visited Virginia wineries in 2015. Today, the Virginia wine industry generates $1.37 billion in economic impact and 8,218 jobs for the Commonwealth. Nationwide, Virginia is in the top six states in number of wineries and wine grape production.



Virginia Wineries Association Announces 2020 Governor's Cup® Gold Medalists

Richmond, Va. (Feb. 18, 2020) – The Virginia Wineries Association Governor’s Cup® Wine Competition judging is complete, and 64 Virginia wines from 40 different wineries have been awarded gold medals. The competition, now in its 38th year, was held over a four-week period during late January and early February. During that time, 19 world-class judges sampled over 530 of the best Virginia Wines to determine gold medalists in one of the most stringent and thorough wine competitions in the country.

Gold medal-winning wines scored a 90 or higher on a 100-point score range and come from across the commonwealth’s winegrowing regions. Representation from a diverse range of terroirs, vintages and varietals, demonstrates the the grace, grit and experimental spirit of Virginia wines.

Similar to years past, blended varieties received the greatest number of gold medals, speaking to Virginia’s legacy of producing acclaimed Bordeaux-style blends. Results from the 2020 competition also showed an increase in hybrid varietals, a nod to sustainable practices in Virginia vineyards, as hybrid grapes require less intervention in the vineyards.

The esteemed panel of judges was directed by Jay Youmans – one of only 51 Masters of Wine (MW) in the U.S. – who has overseen the competition for nine years. Commenting on this year’s entries, Jay Youmans said, “Virginia wines continue to impress, year over year. The overall quality continues to grow, and every vintage tells a fascinating story. Anecdotally, in the blended wine category, the judges tasted an impressive number of quality Tannat-driven wines that demonstrate the diversity of varieties that are seeing success in Virginia.”

Virginia’s vibrant wine industry – a 400-year-old “experiment” – is a significant agricultural sector in the state. Today, over 300 wineries in Virginia cultivate over 3,800 acres of grapes, making it the sixth-largest wine region in the US. Grape varieties like Viognier, Cabernet Franc, Petit Manseng and Petit Verdot—relative obscurities in Old World wine traditions—are taking center stage in Virginia. Both the Governor’s Cup Competition and the resulting Governor’s Cup Case® boost the visibility of the Virginia wine region through various marketing programs and exposure to top wine critics and tastemakers.

Of the gold medal winning wines, 12 top-scoring red and white wines will then comprise the Governor’s Cup Case to showcase the commonwealth’s top wines. The highest scoring wine of the competition will be awarded the grand prize of the Governor’s Cup itself. The winner of the Governor’s Cup will be announced at the Virginia Governor’s Cup Celebration on February 25, 2020; the other 11 wines that make the Governor’s Cup Case will also be recognized. The celebration is a private invitation-only event.  

About the Governor’s Cup Competition

The judging panel ranks each wine based on a unified scoring system. Any wine made from 100% Virginia fruit is eligible for the Governor’s Cup Competition (ciders, fruit wines and meads) have their own categories). Entries must include an affidavit with a certification of 100% Virginia fruit and vineyard particulars, including grower names and location, as well as information on alcohol, acidity or basicity (pH) and residual sugar.

For interviews and photo requests, please contact Annette Boyd at 802.402.1896 or

For more information about the Governor’s Cup or events, tours and tastings, please visit the Virginia Wine Marketing Office’s website at or call 804‐344‐8200.


2711 Buford Road #174
Bon Air, VA 23235