The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition winners are in after several days of swirling, sniffing, savoring, and spitting. There were over sixty judges, representing various North American wine regions who evaluated 5,500 wines from nearly 1,000 wineries. Since it began in 1983, the event has grown to be the largest of its kind in the world and has expanded to all bonded wineries in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. 

There were five categories of wine competitions ranging from sparkling to specialty, plus one for packaging/labels. Within the categories, the wines were further evaluated by cost of the wine – high, medium, and low priced. The wines compete for Double Gold, Gold, Silver and Bronze and a special award of Best in Class which honors the best wine in each of the five categories.

Callaghan Vineyards’ 2019 Catlins was awarded Best of Class this year. Their 2020 Chiricahua Ranch, 2021 Malvasia Bianca (Love Muffin) and 2019 Padres all brought home the Gold. Silver went to 2019 Claires, 2019 Graciano, 2019 Grenache (Waynes), and 2019 La Osa. The 2019 M Block took Bronze.

Callaghan’s was the only winery in Sonoita and Elgin to receive awards from the SF Chronicle this year. 

“I think most people have seen just how mercurial and unpredictable wine competitions are and I must agree,” Callaghan said, “But flawed as they are, they provide a platform to spread the word about the quality of wine coming out of Arizona.” 

Wine tasting is subjective, and people tend to drink what they prefer. Although wine judging is always blind, meaning no bottles and labels can be seen by the judges, tasting methodology can be flawed based on the sequence in which wines are judged and the degree of palate fatigue experienced by the judges. But, despite misgivings over the validity of the judging, a medal can be a valuable selling tool and winning a major wine competition can make an impression.