Amid the ocean of California chardonnay and West Coast pinot noir that inevitably floods the world’s largest competition for American wines, there are always some telling surprises. A serious port-style wine from South Jersey? An evocative rosé from sunny Kennett Square? A deep, plush, and spicy petit verdot from the verdant vineyards of Fort Washington?
Uh-huh. It happened. I was there. And as one of the 62 judges who put on a lab coat for four days to sip, swish, and spit our way through the blind tasting of 7,000 mystery wines at the 17th annual San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition in this northern Sonoma agricultural town, I can tell you the proof is always inside the glass.