It takes a lot of heart to make wine in Vermont. The weather isn't easy, the growing season is short, and the harvest is never the same. Vermont winemakers do it because it's more than a job, it's a way of life that fulfills their passion for caring for the land and bringing people joy through wine.
Wine awards are a way to recognize the dedication it takes to create a remarkable wine, especially in the always-changing conditions of the Northeast!
We're honored to have won awards at some of the most prestigious competitions in the world alongside some of the best vineyards, and we're always striving to improve our wines so that we can compete at an even higher level.
Here is a look at what wine awards mean to us, some of the awards we've won in recent years, and our favorite wine competitions to attend, both for wine drinkers and producers alike.
Wine Awards: How They Work & What They Mean
One of the best things about entering wine competitions is the chance to get your wine in front of industry experts.
Wines are judged in categories, such as Baco Noir or Seyval Blanc, and blind taste tested, usually by three judges. Each judge will score the wine and give it up to 20 or 100 points, depending on the competition, in categories like color, odor, taste, and overall score. The wines compete on their own merit, not in comparison to others.
Unlike the Olympics, there is no limit to how many medals can be given out and data shows more than a third of wines at wine competitions win an award of some kind. Medals are awarded to all wines above a certain score (bronze, silver, gold).
So, are wine awards worth paying attention to if so many awards are given out? We think yes, but take them with a grain of salt. Each judge is unique and their preferences may not match another judge.
If you're buying wine, the award might help sway your choice, but it shouldn't be a deal breaker, especially if you are curious to try a wine that hasn't yet won an award.
With that said, you should pay attention to double gold-winning wines. A gold winner can receive double gold if all of the wines in the category are tasted again with a different panel of judges and it again receives enough points to get gold.
Our Favorite Wine Competitions
Snow Farm Vineyard has been participating in wine competitions and receiving awards since shortly after the vineyard was founded in 1997. Wine awards have increased the awareness of our wines over the years.
We're extremely proud of all of the awards we've won at some of the most prestigious competitions in the world. These awards are a testament to our commitment to making excellent wines.
Some of the competitions we have competed in are:
International Eastern Wine Competition (February)
Patrick Barrelet, head winemaker at Snow Farm Vineyard, enters fewer wine competitions these days than he used to. He says wine competitions aren't always a great indicator of wine quality because wines evolve over time in the bottle. A wine might taste completely different over just a short time.
"You can win gold in one competition and in another, the same wine might win a bronze. It doesn’t mean your wine isn’t good," Barrelet said. "Your wine might change over a year, it might win in March and six months later it’s not a gold anymore."
Because Snow Farm Vineyard has become well known in the region, gaining publicity from awards is less necessary. Still, Barrelet says there is a place for wine awards.
"Wine competitions are useful for start-up vineyards or if you want to create a new wine, and you want to see how you're competing in that area," Barrelet said. "We have been very fortunate in that we haven't competed in the past few years because the wines have been selling themselves."
Snow Farm Vineyard Wine Awards
Below is a sampling of some of the awards Snow Farm Vineyard has won. Though many of these specific vintages are gone, all of the current editions of these wines are available, as supplies last, online and at our tasting room in South Hero.
Late Harvest Vidal/Vignoles (2016, Finger Lakes International Wine Competition)
Vidal Blanc Ice Wine (2013, Taster's Guild Wine Competition)
Fox Hill Maple (2021, Finger Lakes International Wine Competition)
Seyval Blanc (2021, Finger Lakes International Wine Competition)
Late Harvest Vidal/Vignoles (2018, Big E Wine Competition)
Leo Millot (2018, Big E Wine Competition)
Crescent Bay Red (2018, Big E Wine Competition)
Snow White (2021, Finger Lakes International Wine Competition)
Marquette and Crescent Bay Red (2021, Finger Lakes International Wine Competition & 2018 Big E Wine Competition)
Vidal Blanc (2018 Big E Wine Competition)
Seyval Blanc (2018 Big E Wine Competition)
Find Your Next Favorite Wine
Though the awards feel good to receive, Barrelet says there is something better.
"For me, when people come into the winery and they buy a few bottles and they come back, that is our award," Barrelet said. "The returning people are more important than saying that I got a gold or silver medal. When someone says, 'I tried all your wines and there isn’t one wine I didn’t like,' for me, that’s my award right there."
There's a better chance you'll discover your new favorite wine at a Vermont winery than at the grocery store simply because it had an award sticker.
We look forward to seeing you at our tasting room in South Hero!