BY PEG MELNIK – THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

A sauvignon blanc, a pinot noir and a late harvest semillon won the coveted sweepstakes awards Sunday at the Sonoma County Harvest Awards Gala, with two of the three hailing from the Russian River valley appellation.

The Trione Vineyards and Winery 2014 River Road Ranch Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc, at $23, won the sweepstakes award for white wines. Matrix Winerys 2013 Russian River Valley Estate Pinot Noir, $54, took honors for reds and the Clos du Bois 2013 Knights Valley Fleur Late Harvest Semillon, $40, is the specialty wine winner.

A crowd of 500-plus paid at least $75 each to hear the Harvest Fairs wine competition champions announced at Santa Rosas Wells Fargo Center Sunday night. The event recognized the Sonoma County wine industry’s best winemaking and culinary efforts.

“The suspense of the sweepstakes winners is exciting”, said one of the attendees, Katy Long of Santa Rosa. “To be honored among your peers in a friendly competition builds camaraderie and gives you bragging rights. This is a community that works together and celebrates together.”

Before the awards ceremony, attendees were treated to a reception in the lobby, where they sampled award-winning wines and dishes. The dress code was definitely Wine Country casual, with jeans and tennis shoes interspersed with cocktail dresses and designer shoes.

With two of the winners groomed and bottled from the Russian River valley, the evening highlighted the appellations qualities.

The area is one of the most recognized for wine quality by consumers across the country, according to Ray Johnson, director of the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University.

“The quality of wines are exceptional and its also such a beautiful landscape with vineyards surrounded by redwoods”, he said.

Scot Covington, winemaker at Geyserville’s Trione, accepted the award for the sweepstakes white.

Image courtesy of pressdemocrat.com

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