Dry Creek Valley Wins at 2012 Winemaker and Vineyard Manager Pruning Contest

One of the highlights at the 13th Annual Sonoma County Pruning Championship was the Winemaker/Vineyard Manager Competition. Six brave teams representing five AVAs battled for appellation superiority. There were no losers, but one team surpassed all to take home the travelling plaque to display for the year and bestow honor upon the appellation.

First place was won by the Dry Creek Valley appellation who bested teams from Alexander Valley, Russian River Valley, Sonoma Valley and Knight’s Valley. It was a stunning victory over Alexander Valley who, since 2007, won the past four out of six contests. Russian River Valley took top honors in 2009.

Congratulations to the 2012 winning team from Dry Creek Valley, Nova Perrill, a winemaker at Dry Creek Vineyards, and Matt Vogensen, vineyard manager with Bevill Vineyard Management. Besides the travelling plaque, Nova and Matt took home 1st place medals, certificates, SCWC hats, and supreme bragging rights for the rest of the year.

A valiant battle to remain the top AVA, was put forth by the Alexander Valley team of Scott Covington of Trione and Miguel Maciel of Vimark Vineyards. Scott and Miguel took home 2nd place medals, certificates and SCWC hats.

Recognition was awarded to the following teams:

Knight’s Valley: The Navigators Award (for navigating vineyard and competitive challenges with ease) to Mike Cartwright, Rodney Strong winery representative, and Angel Orozco of VinePro Vineyard Management.

Sonoma Valley: The Most Fiesta! Attitude Award (for the team having the most fun and laidback attitude) to the dual teams of Pete Hoffmann, Benziger/Aum Cellars, and Rafael Oseguera of Oseguera Vineyard Management and to Antonio Botello, B. Wise Winery winemaker, and Enrique Castillo of Enrique’s Vineyard Management.

Russian River Valley: The Duct Tape Award (for heroic effort, no loss of limbs and duct tape fixes everything award) to the team of Susan Lueker, Simi winemaker, and Duff Bevill of Bevill Vineyard Management along with Team manager and cheerleader, Joan Patrick of CWUS.

A timer was assigned to each team to clock their speed. Members of the public, industry spectators and the Pruning Championship’s actual competitors observed the teams in action and submitted ballots. Long-time volunteer Craig Haskell of Beau Wine Tours led the balloting team.

Rey Sanchez of Central Valley Builders Supply examined the pruning cuts and scored each team’s work in accordance with the official judging sheet. This judging sheet is the same guideline used yearly for the Championship and the Youth Pruning Contest participants.

Congratulations to all the participants who put their reputations on the line for a few minutes of good natured fun and camaraderie. It’s not too early to start thinking about 2013. We’re looking to orchestrate an old-fashioned "throw-down" between appellations with goodies put up by the AVA groups and the spoils going to the victorious AVA.

So, Ladies and Gentlemen, start bribing your All Star teammate and sharpen those skills for 2013!