Chacewater Named Golden State Winery of Year

July 8, 2012 • Susan Stout, Contributing Writer

It’s looking like a banner year for Chacewater Winery & Olive Mill and consulting winemaker Mark Burch.

Chacewater was named Golden State Winery of the Year at this year’s California State Fair, and its wines scored gold medals and Best of Class awards at the 2012 Los Angeles International Wine Competition.

Several other Lake County wineries also had good showings at the California State Fair, including a double gold medal and Best Tempranillo honors to Mount Konocti Winery for its 2009 Tempranillo.

Chacewater owner Paul W. Manuel has reason to boast this summer with one of the top honors at this year’s California State Fair. Additionally, chacewater wines scored gold medals and Best of Class awards at the 2012 Los Angeles International Wine Competition.

Chacewater’s olive oil also proved to be among top winners in recent shows. Its Tuscan Extra Virgin Olive Oil won Best of Show and Best of Class honors at the 2012 Los Angeles International Olive Oil Competition, and Chacewater’s Mission Extra Virgin Olive Oil won a gold medal at the 2012 California Olive Oil Council Competition.

Expressing his enthusiasm over the wins for both the wine and olive oil, Manuel said the small producer of Kelseyville is “having a really good year.” The showings result in positive recognition for Lake County, he added.

Calling consulting winemaker Mark Burch “awesome,” Manuel said Chacewater is fortunate to benefit from the talents of Burch and mill master Emilio de la Cruz. The winery’s owner credits their knowledge and craftsmanship for Chacewater’s success this year.

Burch is “super laboratory sound,” said Manuel. “He is also an artist with what he does with the (wine) blends.” It is that combination of the lab work and artistry that allows Burch to produce the award-winning wines, according to Manuel.

The winemaker honed his skills over the past 30 years, having started with E & J Gallo in the 1980s. Burch, who attended Fresno State, said his stints included Sebastiani Vineyards for 5 years prior to working for the late Jess Jackson in Lake County between 1994 and 1997. He then joined Wildhurst Vineyards in Kelseyville, helping the wine producer grow over the course of the next 14 years from 5,000 cases to 72,000 cases annually. He left Wildhurst in August 2011. In the last few years he has consulted for several wineries, including Chacewater.

“We had a great show (at the State Fair),” said Burch. “It feels great to champion Lake County this way.”

Chacewater garnered the Golden State Winery of the Year award at the California State Fair by winning the highest number of awards with the greatest number of wines, according to the fair’s ag programs manager. In addition, a winery must enter a minimum of 10 wines to be eligible for the prestigious award.

“Ten wines; 10 medals,” said Burch. Chacewater’s 2010 Chardonnay (Lake County Appellation) received a double gold while also earning Best of California and Best of Class North Coast Appellation honors. The winery scored gold medals with its 2009 Petite Sirah and its 2008 Petite Sirah/Malbec/Cabernet Sauvignon which also took Best of Class of North Coast Appellation honors. Silver medals were awarded to Chacewater’s 2010 Merlot, 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, 2009 Malbec, and 2011 Generic Rose. Its 2010 Zinfandel and 2010 Syrah received bronze medals.

Chacewater beat last year’s Golden State Winery of the Year award winner by less than one point, according to Manuel.

At this year’s State Fair, 2,890 wine entries from 688 participating wineries were judged. The 72 judges on 18 panels gave out more than 2,100 medals, including 74 double gold, 268 gold, 1,195 silver and 734 bronze.

The public may enjoy tasting winning wines from this year’s State Fair competition at California’s Grape & Gourmet, the state’s premier wine and food event, at Cal Expo, Sacramento, on Aug. 18. Ticket information is available on the State Fair website.

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