2017 Vidal Blanc Passito by 868 Estate Vineyards earns Virginia Governor’s Cup, 64 Virginia wines awarded gold medals


Governor Ralph Northam awarded the Virginia Wineries Association’s 2020 Governor’s Cup to 868 Estate Vineyards for its 2017 Vidal Blanc Passito. The announcement was made at the annual Governor’s Cup Celebration, which took place yesterday at the Main Street Station in Richmond.

“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.

868 Estate Vineyards is located in Virginia’s Loudoun Couty, approxaimately one hour northwest of Washington, DC.  It’s 2017 Vidal Blanc Passito is the first wine made from 100% Loudoun County grown grapes to win Virginia’s top wine award, and the first time in 15 years that a dessert wine has won the Governor’s Cup.

Passito is an Italian word for wines made by the appassimento process where grapes are partially dried on straw mats or pallets to concentrate the grapes’ flavors and sweetness prior to vinification. The 2017 Vidal Blanc Passito grapes were dried for one month to bring the sugar concentration over 32%. Sweet and rich with intense honey, pineapple, and tropical fruit flavors, the Vidal Blanc Passito pairs seamlessly with apple tart and intensely flavored cheeses.

“We started this journey just over eight years ago with a desire to build a premium vineyard and winery in Northern Virginia,” said Peter Deliso, founder and chairman of 868 Estate Vineyards. “It’s a pleasure to see our team win such a prestigious award and receive recognition for their hard work, creativity, and perseverance.”

A total of 500 wines were submitted to the 2020 Governor’s Cup Wine Competition. Among the diverse selection of wine from across the Commonwealth, 64 wines from 40 different wineries received gold medals. From the gold medal winners, a set of 12 wine were named to the 2020 Governor’s Case.

Alongside 868 Estate Vineyards 2017 Vidal Blanc Passito, the 2020 Governor’s Cup Case includes:

“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 and educational director at the Capital Wine School, sampled the wines over a four-week period and awarded gold medals to those scoring 90 points or higher.

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 million tourists are visiting Virginia wineries annually.  With more than 300 wineries in Virginia cultivate over 3,800 acres of grapes, Virginia is the sixth-largest wine region in the country.

Troy Petenbrink

Troy, also known as The Gay Traveler, is a well known travel and food writer. His has been a regular contributor to a variety of outlets including National Geographic, Travel Channel, DCRefined, CBS Local, and Metro Weekly. He also appears on local Washington news outlets as a travel expert.

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