Professional Wine Competition
Sonoma County Harvest Fair is the largest regional wine competition in the United States. Any made with grapes in Sonoma County, with a Sonoma County designated AVA as the only region listed on the bottle is eligible for entry. If your wines meet these requirements, we invite you to enter and participate.
2023 Professional Wine Competition will start accepting entries on July 1st and continue through August 18th. Judging will take place on September 26th and 27th. Awards will be announced on Sunday October 1st. The Grand Tasting will be held at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds on Saturday, October 14th.
Sonoma County Harvest Awards Night Gala will follow the judging, this year it will be held on Sunday, October 1st at the Richard & Saralee Kunde Building located at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds.
Please visit us on July 1st for details and more information.
2022 Pro Wine Results
Sweepstakes Winning Wines
Hover over bottles to see details
Sweepstakes Winning Specialty Wine
Late Disgorged Brut
Winemaker: Penny Gadd-Coster
“Handily challenges some of the best french style champagnes, with the warm brioche and hazelnut intro then a macintosh apple, white cherry, and delicate mousse dalliance. Definitely one to delight”
Sweepstakes Winning Red Wine
2019 Pinot Noir
Winemaker: Brian Maloney
“Sonoma County, here is your Pinot! Beautifully pronounced fruit with elegance, spice, cherry cola, black tea. One for the record books”
Sweepstakes Winning White Wine
Francis Ford Coppola Diamond Collection
2021 Sauvignon Blanc
Winemaker: Andrea Card
White: 97 pts.
“Young summer love in a glass, fragrant field grasses, grapefruit, great fruit complexity with incredible acidity balance and restraint. The loveliest finish!”
Please note asterisk (*) denotes a Double Gold
Introducing our Professional 2023 Judges
The choice of judges for the Sonoma County Harvest Fair Professional Wine competition is a critical step in creating a well-balanced panel of experts that will award Best of Class, Gold, Silver and Bronze medals to the over 1,000 wines that will be entered into the competition this year. Harvest Fair strives to recruit a range of experts representing all regions in the US. These include educators, enologists, trade, media and professionals in the hospitality industry.
Wine Writer, Sacramento Magazine
Carrie Boyle is the co-founder of River City Wine Week (@rivercitywineweek on Instagram, www.rivercitywine.com), a wine writer for Sacramento Magazine online and she has over 20 years in the wine industry. She has been a general manager for a national wine & spirits retailer, owned and operated her own fine wine shops, and is a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW). She has judged wine competitions around Northern California, made her own wine, designed and taught classes, orchestrated large wine events and traveled to wine regions all over California, Oregon, Washington, Australia, New Zealand, France (Burgundy, Rhone Valley, Bordeaux, Champagne, and Beaujolais), and Spain (Rioja and Ribera del Duero). Today, in addition to managing River City Wine Week, she acts as a broker representative for hand-crafted wineries from various corners of the world, and actively promotes Sacramento as a wine vacation destination.
Wine Reporter, The Press Democrat and Sonoma Magazine
Over the past 20+ years, Sarah has written about wine, spirits, and food for over 50 publications, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, Wine Enthusiast, Wine & Spirits, Gourmet, Saveur, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Whisky Advocate, Forbes, Robb Report, and many others.
Sarah joined the wine industry in 2006 when the stars aligned and she scored a job as a tasting room host at Tablas Creek winery in Paso Robles, Calif. From there, she went on to work for many wineries on the Central Coast and in Sonoma County in roles that ranged from communications, marketing, public relations, social media, DTC sales, tasting room management, and wine production, among others.
Sarah has completed three harvest internships and has taken advanced college courses on enology, viticulture, wine chemistry, sustainable/organic winegrowing, and more. In 2018, she earned her Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) Level 3 Award in Wine.
A former chef and recipe developer for print media, Sarah is a graduate of the professional culinary training program at the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts in New York City. She’s also highly versed in the art and production of Scotch whisky and a graduate of Bruichladdich Distillery’s Malt Whisky Academy on Scotland’s Isle of Islay.
Sarah lives in Sonoma County with her husband, Andy, and her three wiener dogs: Ramsay, Minnie, and Sophie Francine.
Wine Category Manager, BevMo!
Bill Hayes is the Wine Category Manager the growing BevMo! Retail chain of 163 Stores throughout California, Arizona and Washington. With over 33 years of career experience in the Wine Retail industry, Bill has developed key relationships with winery Owners, Winemakers, Growers as well as other industry partners that have cultivated his vast knowledge of and passion for Wines around the world. Bill’s career in the Wine business began as a Buyer with the Liquor Barn stores. Bill was also a part of the Kendall-Jackson Family Wine organization where he managed the Distributor portfolio that included Kendall-Jackson, La Crema, Cambria and Stonestreet Wines. In 1994 Bill joined BevMo! as one of its very first employees as the Corporate Wine Buyer. He has played key roles in the development, launching and fostering of BevMo!’s iconic 5₵ Wine Sale that has grown from one Wine to now over two-hundred. As part of the BevMo! Private Label/Exclusive Wine program, Bill has traveled throughout Europe and South America to work with Wineries and industry partners to blend and bottle Import Wines such as Zolo and Tapiz, and has blended and developed varietal extensions of the Unruly , Shiloh Road and Stateland Cellars brands. Bill’s current focus with BevMo! is sourcing and developing the premium selection of wines from around the world and promote the local brands for the next-generation BevMo! Consumer.
Wine Category Manager, Bottle Barn
Barry has more than three decades of experience in the wine industry, ranging from sommelier and wine shop owner to high-level retail and private cellar acquisitions. He was raised in Southern California, where he earned his stripes in some of LA’s most celebrated restaurants, among them Chinois on Main and Osteria Angelini. Most recently, Barry was General Manager of the Rare Wine Company in Sonoma, as well as working with Soutirage and Bounty Hunter Rare Wine & Spirits in Napa Valley. Currently, he is the wine buyer for Bottle Barn in Santa Rosa, CA, a 15,000 square foot superstore and arguably has the largest and finest selection of fine wines north of San Francisco. Barry blames a bottle of 1980 Jayer Vosne-Romanée Cros Parantoux for having sent him down the rabbit hole many years ago. Today, he lives in Petaluma, CA with his wife, two children and Australian Shepherd, Elvis, to whom he happily dedicates every spare moment outside of work.
Capital City Radio
Rick Kushman is a New York Times bestselling author and an award-winning journalist who is the wine commentator and a guest host for Capital Public Radio, Sacramento’s NPR affiliate. He is also the creator and co-host of the popular podcast “Bottle Talk with Rick and Paul,” which is featured on the Capital Public Radio podcast lineup among many others.
Rick was a longtime columnist for The Sacramento Bee and his writing has appeared in publications ranging from Time Magazine to Sommelier Journal to Daily Variety. He has worked in the wine industry as a consultant on service and communication and as a Napa Valley-based Communications Strategist for E&J Gallo Winery. His day job now is handling Executive Communications for UC Davis Health.
He is the author of two books, and the second, “The Barefoot Spirit,” a business book set in the wine world, spent two months on the New York Times Bestseller list. He also offers inventive, light-hearted, anti-winespeak programs for corporate events and for the public, and he conducts media trainings and public speaking seminars for wineries, corporate clients and industry groups. Rick has served as Co-Chief Judge for the California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition and is currently Chief Judge of the State Fair’s Home Winemaker’s Competition.
Laura Ness is an avid wine journalist with a deep respect for the many hands behind the myth and reality of wine. Every aspect of wine is infused with stories, and telling those stories in a compelling way has become her passion.
A visit to France shortly after college imprinted the concept of terroir indelibly as she tasted wines in the very towns that bear their names. Sancerre, Chinon and Vouvray were not just wines, they were actual places: places you could taste. Laura’s wine obsession eventually led her from high tech communications to the wine industry, where she is the wine columnist for Spirited and Los Gatos magazines, as well as several Bay Area newspapers. She also writes regularly for industry and consumer publications like Edible: Monterey, Wine Business Monthly, Wine Industry Network, and WineOh.Tv. She judges wine competitions throughout California and enjoys playing “wine concierge” for people seeking out wineries and experiences that provide a unique sense of place.
WSE, Wine Steward, Safeway
Currently wine steward at Safeway Stores, Greg has a broad background in the wine and spirits marketplace. His experience includes management in hospitality, marketing, production and business modeling. Greg is WSET certified and has been an accredited judge for the past eight years.
Executive Director, Lake County Winery Assocition
Helena Welsh is the Executive Director of the Lake County Winery Association. Helena is the current President of the Lake County Chamber of Commerce and serves on other boards including the Lake County Wine Alliance, Rotary Club of Clearlake and 1Team1Dream.
There are few people in Northern California’s Wine County — in fact, just one — who truly can be defined as The Wine Guy. That would be Tom Simoneau.
Grape grower and Winemaker. Wine Educator, Wine Competition Judge and Wine Critic. Wine Marketer. And for two decades, the clever and insightful host of a syndicated daily radio show offering reviews and “wine stains” to help guide listeners towards exceptional wine experiences.
As well known as he is in the world of wine, his journey from Boston to California fronting a country rock n’ roll band is less well known, though often hinted at by the one remaining nod to that era, a distinctive flowing mane that dips below his shoulders. The hint of a rebel, which always has paired well with distinctive winemaking.
Arriving in California to pursue a record contract, he found himself mesmerized by the beauty and energy of Sonoma County, which reminded him just enough of his home in Maine to bring added comfort. Life had taken an unexpected turn, and Tom helped launch Windsor Vineyards, an early direct to consumer wine company offering personalized labels (bottled for the Wine Cellar of The Mason Family, for example) to eager wine lovers all across America. As he gained insights and experience with wine marketing, it was only logical that growing grapes and making wine were next.
When he made his first wine Tom couldn’t resist going truly old school, crushing the grapes with his feet.
In 1988, now married to his childhood sweetheart, a fellow Mainer, Tom and Brenda purchased 12½ acres in the benchlands of Alexander Valley. Simoneau Vineyards began with 10 acres planted to Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, and a small number of Bordeaux varietal blending grapes. Over the next two decades, they honed and improved the farming of the Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay and became sought after growers for distinguished wineries.
Jane Halahan Valentin
Jane Halahan Valentin is a luxury winemaking professional who has served as a winemaker to Beringer Vineyards and Stags’ Leap Winery. She studied Winemaking at UC Davis while getting her Master’s at Sonoma State University. Her goal is to showcase the extensive possibilities of traditional varietals, and to make wine that is lush with rich complexity and opulent tannins.
Passionate and trusted wine and food pairing specialist professional. A talented chef Sommelier, international wine and food judge, educator/lecturer.
In 2002 he launched a startup, as the owner of A Winechef For You, LLC. A catering and Branding company, that promotes truth to wine pairings, a “think tank” advocating sharing globally our wine’s history of art, terrior science, a sense of place/culture, bridging wine roots to food. He develops wine pairing programs for the global wine trade, associations, groups, college culinary/wine programs and wine festivals. Some of his writing is for retail wine shops that have a need for wine pairing point of sale programs.
Tony’s journey started around home, the restaurants and wineries of Maryland. From Vocational cooking school, a full scholarship to Widener University Hotel/Restaurant earned BS degree 82 class and interned/at the Hotel Krone Assmannshausen.
Rudesheim, Germany. He was in the first graduation class CIA Pro-chef program in 1998 at Culinary Institute of America Greystone Napa, CA. In 2022 he earned a his Wine & Food Pairing Certification Graystone CIA in Napa as well.
In 2010, he became a Napa Valley Certified Wine Educator. Tony has attended 10 years at Napa Vintner Wine Writer Symposiums and Napa Premiere Events, one year as a featured speaker.
He has been a member and lecturer with Society of Wine Educators, American Wine Society, German Wine Society, Tasters Guild Society, Vancouver Playhouse International Wine & Food Festival, The Annual Zinfandel Festival, The Lodi Lake Zinfandel Wine Festival and Pennsylvania Wine Festival.
Pat Henderson is a veteran with more than thirty years of wine making experience and has been the chief winemaker for Kenwood vineyards, Valley of the Moon Winery and Hedges Cellars. He currently works as a wine making consultant and wine educator in the Sonoma Valley. In addition to his work as a consultant, he teaches winemaking classes for both the UC Davis Winemaking Certificate Program and Santa Rosa Junior College.
A graduate of the Viticulture and Enology program at the University of California at Davis Pat supplemented his formal education by interning at five different wineries while getting his degree. After graduation he worked in both the Napa and Sonoma valleys before taking his first position as head winemaker at Hedges Cellars in Washington State in 1995.
After returning from the Northwest he became winemaker at Valley of the Moon Winery where he worked for six years before returning to Kenwood Vineyards where he had previously served as enologist 10 years before. Pat is a member of The American Society for Enology and Viticulture and is co-author of the book About Wine; a textbook on wine for culinary students. He has also written articles for Winemaker Magazine and Practical Winery & Vineyard and has judged numerous wine professional competitions.
J’nai is a former editor for Wine Enthusiast Magazine and a contributor to Decanter Magazine. She has also written for other publications like Plate, Grub Street, Eater, VinePair and others. She was also a contributor to Karen MacNeil’s third edition of The Wine Bible, works as a food and wine copywriter and has authored countless wine tasting notes. She is passionate about Champagne and Burgundy, and drinks copious amounts of both daily.
The Sonoma County Harvest Fair Board has created Digital Medals that you can download and use to promote your award winners on your website and social media!
Click Below for a link to the Digital Medals.