The California State Fair has announced the winners of the 2022 California Commercial Wine Competition. The highly anticipated event was held June 1-3 at Cal Expo in Sacramento.
This year, a panel of 44 official judges tasted and evaluated 1,953 California wines from 443 California wineries. The competition, which had been on a 2-year hiatus due to the COVID pandemic, celebrates the wine growing and wine producing industry in California. It is open only to wines made with fruit grown and produced in the eleven growing regions across the State of California. Wines are evaluated by class, varietal, style, and region based upon the source of the grapes. Total medals awarded were 99 Double Gold, 257 Gold, 878 Silver, and 583 Bronze.
Eleven Ursa Vineyards wines were entered in the competition, three of which earned Best of Class Appellation awards. The star of the show was the 2018 Tannat, Ferrel Ranch, which earned a Double Gold medal, Best of Class Appellation, and a whopping 99 points.
“We’re thrilled with the results from the California State Fair. I love that all our wines placed, but especially our flagship Tannat with Double Gold, 99 points, AND Best of Appellation El Dorado. It’s an honor to have done so well and in such good company,” said Deborah Elissagaray.
Congratulations to Ursa Winemakers Deborah Elissagaray and Greg Stokes!
2018 Tannat, Ferrel Ranch, El Dorado *
2020 Viognier, Hidden Mesa Vineyard, Sierra Foothills *
Major Red, Sierra Foothills *
2018 Mencía, Silvaspoons Vineyards, Alta Mesa
2018 Souzão, Sierra Foothills
2018 Cabernet Sauvignon, Ferrel Ranch, El Dorado
2018 Syrah-Sirah, Sierra Foothills
2018 Petite Sirah, Sierra Foothills
2020 Chardonnay, Wilson Vineyard, Clarksburg *
2018 Barbera, Lone Meadow Vineyard, Sierra Foothills
2018 Zinfandel, Sierra Foothills *
Dating back to 1854, the California State Fair Wine Competition is America’s oldest and most prestigious wine event. For more than 160 years, the California State Fair has showcased the Best of the Golden State. Visit the Cal Expo website for a full list of winners: FULL LIST
* Available now at Ursa at Branch on High
Just in time for Texas Wine Month, the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Uncork Texas Wine program teamed up with Texas Monthly to create the inaugural Texas Vintners Cup 2021 competition to select 12 wines that represent the best in Texas.
The Bending Branch 2017 Tannat, Newsom Vineyards made the list! This wine was produced using a combination of cryo-maceration and flash détente technology, two techniques used to extract more color, flavor and tannins from grapes to make bold, but balanced red wines.
Rounding out the top 12 were Honorable Mention wines that included another Bending Branch Tannat – the 2017 Tannat CM, Tallent Vineyards.
Bending Branch – considered the Tannat House of Texas – planted its first Tannat in 2009 on its estate property and was among the first wineries to release a Tannat in Texas, a 2008 Tannat released in 2010. This year, Bending Branch had more than a dozen Tannat wines in its portfolio.
Here’s what the judges had to say about the 2017 Tannat, Newsom Vineyards:
“It’s amazing to see how well Tannat is doing in Texas. This wine is big and robust with dark red fruit, blackberry and dewberry, baking chocolate, spice. It’s full bodied, with dense, well-integrated tannin,” said Master Sommelier Jack Mason, who oversees Texas’ portfolio at RNDC Distributing.
“Chewy, leathery, and ripe tannins exemplifying the best of the Tannat grape variety. Note how the baking chocolate from oak complements the blueberry and blackberry liqueur notes. It’s big, but long and fine; a well-made Tannat that shows what the variety can do,” said Master Sommelier James Tidwell, co-founder of TEXSOM.
Mason and Tidwell joined Texas Monthly wine and food writer Jessica Dupuy, certified sommelier and author of The Wines of Southwest USA, as judges who evaluated 260 wines from 67 wineries.
We are #1! We’re incredibly honored to be voted Best Winery again in the San Antonio Express-News YourSA Readers' Choice Awards.
Bending Branch Winery has been voted Best Winery by San Antonio Express-News readers for six years in a row: 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021. (There was no competition in 2020.)
We want to thank our club members and loyal customers for making this possible. Your support is valuable to our success now more than ever.
#YourSA21 #SanAntonio #SupportLocal #OpenLocalWine
We are absolutely THRILLED to announce our results from the 2021 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition that took place in early March. There were over forty-eight judges, representing various North American wine regions, evaluating nearly 5,700 wines from over 1,000 wineries. The awards that Bending Branch Winery and Ursa Vineyards received are an amazing recognition of the hard work of our incredible winemaking teams and wonderful growers.
Pictured: Greg Stokes, Deborah Elissagaray, Dr. Bob Young, Brenda Young, Alison Young
Our California brand, Ursa Vineyards, also had impressive results. Nestled in the pastoral foothills of Placerville, California, Ursa was founded in 2001 by husband-and-wife winemaking team, Greg Stokes and Deborah Elissagaray. A mutual interest in Tannat is what brought together Ursa and Bending Branch Winery, when Dr. Bob Young hired Greg as a consultant in 2007. Their professional relationship flourished, and when Bending Branch was founded in 2009, its first wines were made by Bob and Greg at Ursa. The Young family purchased Ursa in 2014, making Greg and Deborah a permanent part of the team. Ursa wines are featured at our tasting room in downtown Comfort, Ursa at Branch on High.
* Not yet released.
Join the Bending Branch and Ursa teams for a special Drinking Double Gold happy hour on Zoom this Friday, March 19th. Winemaker Greg Stokes will join us to talk about all of these stellar wines. Find the event details and Zoom link on our event page.
Bending Branch Winery was awarded BEST OF HERD TEXAS WINERY at the 12th Annual San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo Wine Competition held on October 5-7, 2020. The competition featured over 1,000 wines from across the United States and around the world.
Best of Herd is awarded to the Texas winery which has the greatest percentage of wines receiving the highest number of awards within their total number of entries.
Wineries selected as Top 14 Champion Wines including Grand Champion, Reserve Champion, Best of Herd, Top All Around Winery, Best of Show, Top of Class and Double Gold will be featured during the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo Virtual Super Auction scheduled for November 9-15, 2020. The auction funds support the Show’s goals of benefiting the youth of Texas. To date, over $223 million has been committed to educate the youth of Texas. This year, more than 21,275 Texas students have been educationally impacted. Proceeds from the Wine Events benefit the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo Scholarship Fund with a portion for the advancement of viticulture.
The Champion winning wines will also be showcased in the Wine Cellar, sponsored by H-E-B, on the rodeo grounds during the 72nd Annual San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo to be held February 11-28, 2021. The H-E-B Wine Department is committed to supporting the competition and will feature the Champion wines in their San Antonio stores throughout the month of February 2021. Champion wines will also be recognized in the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo local media publications and website.
Want to purchase the Double Gold 2017 Petite Sirah before it's released? The Best of Herd Top Picks 4-pack includes two bottles each of 2017 Petite Sirah and 2017 Tempranillo. Cheers!
See a full list of winners here.
Left: Winemaker Greg Stokes; Center: Laura & Drew Tallent, Dr. Bob Young, Kathryn Cook, Tallent Vineyard Manager; Right: Tannat from Tallent Vineyards, Mason TX
The Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo and Botanical Research Institute of Texas recently announced the winners from the 2020 FWSSR / BRIT™ Texas Sustainable Winegrowing Competition. Top honors were awarded to Bending Branch Winery in Comfort, Texas, in combination with Tallent Vineyards of Mason, Texas. Nice Winery in Houston, Texas won the Grand Reserve Champion award in combination with Alta Mira Vineyards of Anderson, Texas.
The top winning wineries were awarded for their sustainable practices in the vineyard and other areas of operation in addition to the wines they submitted to a blind tasting. - Bending Branch 2018 Tannat Rosé, Texas Hill Country
The inaugural wine competition of the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo established a unique approach to a Texas wine competition by recognizing both the winery/winemaker and grape grower. Working with BRIT, wineries entered the competition by submitting written applications highlighting their sustainable practices, alongside their Texas wines for evaluation.
Subscribing to sustainable practices in a Texas vineyard presents many challenges. Nonetheless, Texas wineries embrace the quality results of sustainable practices and continue improving their programs. Applicants outlined their efforts boosting sustainability across five areas: vineyard management, winemaking, employee practices, customer service and social responsibility.
Texas wines submitted by applicants were judged by a panel of experienced wine professionals. The entries represented 12 different grape varieties plus wines blended from multiple grapes. The wide range of grape varieties demonstrates the diversity of Texas vineyards.
“Recognizing the collaborative efforts of grape growers and winemakers spurs innovation,” said Stock Show President and General Manager Brad Barnes. “The sustainability effort benefits our environment and consumers get to enjoy award-winning Texas wines. We’re excited to play a role in the future of this growing industry.”
BRITS’s President and Executive Director Dr. Ed Schneider echoed the excitement. “This is a first for Texas wine competitions and we are most pleased with the results,” said Dr. Schneider. “Texas wine organizations are as passionate about their sustainable practices as they are about making great bottles of Texas wine.”
The 2020 FWSSR / BRIT™ Texas Sustainable Winegrowing Competition winners included:
• Grand Champion – Bending Branch Winery / Tallent Vineyards
• Reserve Grand Champion – Nice Winery / Alta Mira Vineyards
• Gold Medal – Lost Draw Cellars / Moonlight Vineyards, Roussanne 2018
• Gold Medal – Kiepersol Winery/Estate Vineyards, Texas Syrah 2015
• Silver Medal – Bingham Family Vineyards/Estate Vineyards, Dugout 2017
• Bronze Medal – Chateau Wright/Estate Vineyards, Heraldic Red 2017
• Bronze Medal – Bull Lion Ranch & Vineyard/Estate Vineyards, Montepulciano 2015
During BRIT’s Vine to Table awards dinner and fundraising event on January 15, 2020, Bending Branch Winery and Nice winery will be presented their champion awards. Tickets can be purchased to the Dickies Arena event here.
Visitors to the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo can enjoy a selection of Bending Branch wines at Vine-2-Wine’s Sip & Shop event on January 29, 4-8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased here.
Just outside of the West Texas community of Plains, you’ll find Newsom Vineyards – one of the oldest, most respected vineyards in Texas. In 1986, Neal Newsom and his family planted 5,000 vines on 5 acres. Today, the family has 148 bearing acres that produce nearly 400 tons of grapes annually. Many award-winning wines have been produced from Newsom’s grapes, and they were the first to plant Tempranillo in the state.
Tempranillo is one of the most widely planted grapes in the world, and the variety has emerged as a star in Texas. Bending Branch has produced Tempranillo every year since 2010, with the exception of vintage 2013. Unfortunately, late spring freezes wiped out the 2013 crop. Tempranillo is one of the most highly-awarded wines in the Bending Branch portfolio.
SPECIAL OFFER: In honor of International Tempranillo Day, receive complimentary shipping on three bottles or more of Bending Branch Tempranillo with coupon code TEMPRANILLO Thursday, November 14th through Sunday the 17th. ¡Viva Tempranillo!
Gold/Texas Reserve Class Champion – 2014 Houston Rodeo Uncorked!
Silver – 2013 Dallas Morning News/TEXSOM International
Silver – 2013 Lone Star International
2011 Tempranillo, Newsom Vineyards
Silver – 2014 Houston Rodeo Uncorked!
2012 Tempranillo, Newsom Vineyards
Gold – 2016 Houston Rodeo Uncorked!
Gold – 2015 Lone Star International
92 Points – 2016 Beverage Dynamics
85 Points – 2015 Wine Enthusiast
Double Gold/Best Texas Red – 2018 San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo
Silver/Texas Class Champion – 2018 Houston Rodeo Uncorked!
Silver – 2018 San Francisco Chronicle
Silver – 2017 Lone Star International
Gold – 2019 Houston Rodeo Uncorked!
Gold – 2019 San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo
Gold – 2019 Texas International
Silver – 2019 San Francisco Chronicle
Gold – 2020 San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo
Silver – 2019 San Francisco International
We are excited to announce that the 2011 Bending Branch Winery Estate Tannat will be auctioned for the second time to benefit youth scholarships.
In 2014, the 2011 Estate Tannat from Bending Branch Winery received the Top Texas Wine award at the Rodeo Uncorked! International Wine Competition. The award was presented by the George H. W. Bush Library Foundation. A magnum bottle of that wine was auctioned at the Champion Wine Auction, for $100,000 – which, at that time was the second highest bid for a Texas wine.
The Youngs were honorary co-chairs at the 2014 Vintner Dinner and Wine Auction at the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation. A few weeks later, they received a bottle of that wine signed by George H. W. and Barbara Bush. The Youngs have coveted and cellared that wine with care for five years. As a way to honor President Bush and his wife, Barbara, and their legacy of philanthropy, the Youngs have offered the autographed bottle to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Uncorked! Champion Wine Auction to raise money for scholarships. Part of the agreement is that 50 percent of the money raised will benefit local youths through scholarships administered by the Comfort Area Foundation. Comfort, Texas, is the home of the Youngs and Bending Branch Winery.
You can view this item via the auction link. The auction will be held on Sunday, February 24, in Houston.
Bending Branch Winery will celebrate Open That Bottle Day on Saturday, February 23, by uncorking the celebrated 2011 Estate Tannat in the Bending Branch Winery Estate tasting room and Wine Club Lounge. For a $5 donation, you can taste the wine, and those proceeds will benefit Comfort Area Foundation scholarships.