An army of 120 wine consumers supported by a legion of over 100 local Rotarians convened in Lodi, California, to participate as Consumer Evaluators for the 2011 Consumer Wine Awards at Lodi. They sipped, spat and voted their favorites from nearly 700 wines submitted and the results covered a spectrum of wines that were as diverse as the spectrum of consumers who evaluated them. Platinum Awards went to twenty-one wines including an intense Lodi Zinfandel, two delicate Pinot Grigios, a high-end Napa Valley Bordeaux blend, a Chardonnay from Pennsylvania, a Chardonnay from Virginia and even a generic, boxed “Rhine” wine from California.
What makes this event so unique is that panels of consumers, not wine critics or experts, are selected to evaluate categories of wines that they love. This means that the awards are given by the very people who most frequently select the types of wines they are asked to evaluate. "We recognized that some wines which get a shrug from the experts are getting kudos from the everyday consumers who buy and drink them," says Competition Co-Director "Pooch" Pucilowski.
Christine Carroll, from Crossing Vineyards, Crossing, PA and Platinum Award winner for 2008 Viognier, wrote the organizers saying, “These awards mean so much more to us than the political, wine-snob-driven competitions we often enter. You have no idea how tough it is to prove that world class wine can be produced in Pennsylvania! Your recognition encourages us to go quietly about the process of making good, affordably priced wines every day. We will keep fighting the good fight.”
Master of Wine Tim Hanni, who is responsible for the unique focus and methodology employed for the event, points out, “Consumer Wine Awards at Lodi encompasses all of the things we value and are working to bring to the wine community. We are exploring a better understanding of consumer preferences and values to develop peer-to-peer wine recommendations as an alternative, not replacement, to expert or wine critic recommendations. The wine industry is missing the mark and spending too much time trying to tell consumers what they like instead of listening and finding out what they want. The Consumer Wine Awards at Lodi is part of a bigger movement to end “the tyranny of the minority” of a handful of critics, who tend to focus on a very narrow range of wines, and expose more people to the phenomenal wines from around America and beyond. We are thrilled that so many lesser-known wines performed so magnificently.”
A full listing of results and information on the 2012 Consumer Wine Awards at Lodi can be found at http://www.consumerwineawards.com/.
Contact: Tim Hanni MW, firstname.lastname@example.org