Virginia Governor's Cup

The Virginia Governor's Cup, one of the most stringent competitions in the US, is hosted by the Virginia Wineries Association, in partnership with the Virginia Wine Board and the Virginia Vineyards Association.

View 2021 Winners

The Competition

In 2021, 16 world-class judges sampled 544 of the best Virginia wines from over 100 Virginia wineries. The highest 12 ranking red and white wines will become the Governor's Cup Case, with one bottle taking home the coveted Governor's Cup. 

Preliminary Round

Over the course of 10 days, each wine is tasted by 7 judges. This is a single-blind tasting, meaning that judges only know the grape or category of a wine, but the vintage, winery and name are hidden behind coded-glasses.

Finally, individual judges' scores of a wine are averaged into one score after the lowest score is dropped.

Final Round

Over the course of 3 days, 12 judges assess the highest ranking wines from the preliminary round. Unlike the preliminary round, each judge samples all of the Final Round wines.

Each wine in the Final Round receives a final average score after lowest is dropped. The 12 wines with the highest average score are identified as the "Governor's Cup Case."

The wine with the highest overall score is the Governor's Cup Winner.

Judging Criteria

Judges will use the 100 point scale, as used by Wine Spectator, Wine Advocate, Wine Enthusiast, Wine & Spirits, and many others, to rate the most outstanding wines Virginia has to offer.

Tasting Notes

Our esteemed judges assemble tasting notes for each wine commenting on:

  • Appearance Clear or dull, color, intensity, any other visual observations
  • Aroma Descriptors as to clean or faulty aromatics, fruit, floral, vegetal, spice, oak, chemical, animal, and intensity
  • Flavor Character of the alcohol, acidity, body, tannin, oak, fruit, floral, vegetal, spice, oak, chemical, animal, and intensity
  • Overall Quality
  • Commercial Suitability

Rating Scale

The numerical rating will be used to determine medal winners and advancement to subsequent round.

Classic Among The Best Wines In The World
Outstanding Superior Character And Style
Very Good A Wine With Special Qualities
Good A Well Made Wine Of Good Quality
Average A Drinkable Wine That May Have Minor Flaws
Not recommended(NR)/ No Score(NS)

The Awards

Once the judging is complete, the average wine score will be used to determine if it qualifies for a medal, and the highest 12 ranking red and white wines will become the Governor's Cup Case.

Best in Show Cider

Beginning in 2021, Virginia cider is judged in its own category. Judges are selected based on their passion, experience, and understanding of the cider category. With 27 entries in 2021, each cider was scored using a 100 point scale. After tasting through all the entries, the top six scoring ciders were identified. The judges then retasted (blind) and ranked their favorites from 1-6. The highest-rated cider will win 2021 Best in Show Cider.

The Judges

Meet this year's judges; a world-class panel with decades of experience.

John Brand

John’s interest in cider started quite unintentionally with a flight of craft ciders at a pre-opening celebration of a good friend’s craft cidery. “Woo! That’s great,” he said. Not like any cider he had ever tasted! As John was slowly pulled in, his passion grew exponentially while was sailing and drinking cider with an amazing group of Thirsty Thursday friends. Professionally, John is a fully recovered former commercial banker who now makes the world, or some small part of it, a better place.

Bartholomew Broadbent

Bartholomew Broadbent is the owner of Broadbent Selections, which was nominated by Wine Enthusiast for Importer of the Year in 2019. In June 1997, Decanter magazine named Bartholomew one of the “fifty most influential in the wine world…the faces to watch in the new millennium." Bartholomew moved to America in 1986 to start a Port importing company, Premium Port Wines, for leading the Symington family, spending the next ten years educating Americans on Port and Madeira. In 1988, Bartholomew was responsible for reintroducing Madeira to the US, where it had faced extinction during and since prohibition. He has “expanded from his pivotal role in the breathtaking growth of Port and Madeira to exert a profound influence on the US wine market,” says Decanter. Profiled by Wine Spectator [1986], Market Watch “The Pioneer of Port” [2008], American Fine Wine Magazine [2008] and [2009], son of Michael Broadbent MW, Bartholomew was also named by Wine & Spirits [2008] as one often in the world to be “driving the most revolutionary changes in wine."

Bartholomew founded Broadbent Selections in 1996 and today, among the 39 wineries he represents, Broadbent is especially known for importing the finest of the finest wines from South Africa, Lebanon, New Zealand and Portugal. Bartholomew has been a wine speaker for most of the major cruise lines and wine festivals. He lives in Richmond, Virginia and has a very strong passion for Virginia's wineries.

Emmanuel Dabney

Emmanuel Dabney is a historian, resident of southside Virginia, and an avid consumer of wine and cider and Virginia made spirits. Emmanuel graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Historic Preservation from the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia and completed a Master’s degree in Public History at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He’s a member of several Virginia beverage makers’ clubs and has given a presentation on the relationship between enslaved people and fruit orchards in antebellum Virginia among a host of other topics related to slavery, freedom, emancipation, and the Civil War and Reconstruction eras. The 2020 Virginia Governor’s Cup is Emmanuel’s first time participating.

Kristi Delovitch

Kristi Delovitch is a top Wine & Spirits Consultant for Winebow in the Mid-Atlantic with over 70 million dollars sold. She is also the founder of the live cast "It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere," which has over 55,000 unique views. Kristi is a Diploma Candidate forWine Spirit Education Trust (WSET) and taught the Level 2 course for eight years at Capital Wine School.

Maria Denton

Maria E. Denton, CSS CSW CWE, is the Beverage Director for the two highest-grossing restaurants in Washington, DC--Old Ebbitt Grill and The Hamilton. She brings over 25 years of experience to this role, having started her wines and spirits career in the restaurant industry, working her way from server to General Manager along the way. Maria has also worked in the beverage wholesale business, as a wines and spirits instructor, and as a lead sommelier for several international wine events. Always an advocate of wines and spirits education, Maria is a mentor to several DC-area sommeliers, and she served on the Society of Wine Educators Board of Directors from 2008 to 2014.

David Denton

David is the only American faculty member of the Wine Academy of Spain in Madrid and is a sommelier at Charlie Palmer Steak in Washington, DC. He holds all three certifications from the Society of Wine Educators–the Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW), the Certified Specialist of Spirits (CSS), and the Certified Wine Educator (CWE), and holds the Official Sherry Educator title from the Consejo Regulador of Sherry. In addition, David has passed the Advanced Sommelier exam held by the Court of Master Sommeliers and is a Certified Bordeaux Educator through the L'Ecole du Vin Bordeaux. He is the head sommelier for many prestigious events including Robert Parker's master tasting in Logrono, Spain; Staglin Family Vineyards' annual Music Festival in Napa Valley; the Society of Wine Educators' annual conferences in Monterey, CA, Washington, DC, New Orleans, LA, and Sacramento, CA; and the Vinoble Fortified and Dessert Wine Festival in Jerez, Spain; among others. He resides in Arlington, VA, with his wife Maria.

Michael Franz

Michael Franz is a wine writer, educator and consultant. He is editor of Wine Review Online as well as Sommelier magazine. Franz worked as the regular wine columnist for The Washington Post from 1994 through 2005 before leaving to help found Wine Review Online. Franz tastes approximately 9,000 wines each year and regularly judges wine competitions around the world.

Rachel Fritz

Rachel Fitz is a co-founder and co-owner of ANXO (AHN-choh), Washington, D.C.’s first licensed cidery since prohibition. She currently serves as the Director of Operations, managing day to day operations for the restaurant, which was voted one of Wine Enthusiast's top 100 restaurants in 2018, while also managing various partnerships and operations for the cider brand. 

Fitz co-founded ANXO with her brother, Sam, and longtime friend, Cooper Sheehan, after the trio realized the unexplored opportunities in cider while visiting a number of cideries across the globe. ANXO makes apple-only cider that is always naturally sugar free and highlights the local terroir and apples of our region. She is currently a level one Certified Cider Professional and a certified beer server. 

Prior to founding ANXO, Fitz held positions at prominent D.C.-area bars and restaurants such as Meridian Pint and Pizzeria Paradiso. Originally a Baltimore native, Fitz moved to Washington, D.C. upon graduating with her Master’s of Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri to work for nonprofits such as the International Rescue Committee and the Leadership International Fellowship Experience. Eventually earning a Master’s of Public Health, Fitz is still passionate about community outreach and inclusion, and continues to use this passion to fuel ANXO’s many charitable initiatives each year. 

Tara Hardiman

Tara Hardiman seeks to promote excellence in wine and spirits education, production, judging, and consumer enjoyment through her formal wine and spirits educational achievements and over 25 years of expert consumer patronage. Her decades-long pursuit of wine and spirits expertise and appreciation took her on a path to complete the UK Wine and Spirits Education TrustDiploma in 2014, becoming an Associate of the Institute of the Wine and Spirits. Furthering that education, she became a Certified Specialist of Spirits and Certified Specialist of Wines in 2015 through the U.S.-based Society of Wine Educators. In 2018, she became an American Wine Society Wine judge. While working for the U.S. Government by day, Tara continues her avid exploration of new and emerging wine trends, regions, and techniques through continuing education and travel.

Caroline Hermann

Caroline Hermann is a highly respected wine lecturer, having taught wine industry professionals since 2010 at the Capital Wine School in Washington DC. She has worked in many aspects of the industry, including wineries and retail sales, as well as wine law and regulations. She has studied viticulture, winemaking, and tasting analysis at the University of Bordeaux and Plumpton College, and is a recipient of the AXA Millesimes Scholarship. Caroline holds a Diploma from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust, and is DC's 2nd Master of Wine.

Erica Jeter

Erica Jeter is a cidermaker and cider enthusiast, who finds great joy in fine cider’s current revival. She is a member of the American Cider Association, a Cider Convolunteer, and has studied cidermaking, sensory analysis, and orcharding through workshops at Blue Bee Cider, Albemarle CiderWorks, Penn State Extension, the American Cider Association, and the CiderInstitute of North America. She is one of the organizers of The Cider Exchange (TCE) community on Facebook, and loves sharing and exchanging orchard-based ciders and perries with friends across many cider regions. As a cidermaker, her quest for rare and exceptional apples has led her to orchards throughout central and southwest Virginia, including the highly revered Foggy Ridge Cider orchard. As an avid fan of nature and the outdoors, she enjoys traveling in her microcamper to orchard-based cideries to experience what she refers to as “full terroir immersion”: sleeping under the stars in orchards, cooking and dining al fresco with the farm and cidery families, and tasting ciders among the trees and land that produced them. Erica lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband and teenage son, who wonder how long it will take for her cider making equipment to take over every floor of their home.

Ian Kirkland

Ian Kirkland is the owner and operator of The Caboose Market & Café in Ashland, Virginia. Founded in 1997, Ian has over 20 years’ experience as a taster and buyer running the wine, beers, and cider programs in the market. The market expanded in 2015 and added a small café and bar with an emphasis on local and regional farms and food producers. In addition to a rotating seasonal menu the café also hosts wine, beer and cider dinners and tasting events throughout the year. He lives in the country north of Ashland with his wife and two sons.

Richard Leahy

Richard  Leahy is a wine professional based in Charlottesville, Virginia and coordinates the conference program for the Eastern Winery Exposition, the largest wine industry trade show east of the Rockies. He has been writing about wines of Virginia and theEast since 1986, and in May 2012 his book Beyond Jefferson’s Vines, the Evolution of Quality Wine in Virginia was published to high praise from reviewers. It is now available on in a revised third edition. Richard is a member of the American Wine Society and the Circle of Wine Writers, and also has a website and blog focused on wines of the He was the keynote speaker at the 25th anniversary of Gray Ghost Vineyards in 7/19 and has presented seminars on “Virginia Wines: 400 Years Young and World Class” at theSociety of Wine Educators (8/19) and the American Wine Society (11/17 and 11/16).

Dave McIntyre

Dave McIntyre has been The Washington Post's weekly wine columnist since October 2008, and his column is syndicated around the world. His writings have also appeared in Wine Enthusiast, the San Francisco Chronicle, Sommelier Journal, Washingtonian and other publications. He contributed chapters on Virginia and Maryland to Lonely Planet's "Wine Trails United States & Canada”(2018) and the 8th edition of the World Atlas of Wine, by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson (2019). He also contributed entries on wines of the Eastern United States to several annual editions of Oz Clarke's
Pocket Guide to Wine.

Dave was co-creator of Drink Local Wine, an organization that highlighted the growth of local wine industries around the United States. He was honored by the Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association in 2010 with its Wine Grape Productivity Tray and in 2014 with its Monteith Trophy for his support of the regional wine industry. Dave has participated in and moderated wine presentations for the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History and the Smithsonian Associates program. His charitable work supports the American Heart Association.

Vanessa Moore

Vanessa Moore is an entrepreneur originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana relocated to NorthernVirginia in 1999 after completing undergraduate studies at Louisiana State University. Today, she is the sole owner of two Alexandria based wine stores and a wine and craft beer bar south of Old Town. Established and rebranded in 2004, Unwined has been recognized by Eric Asimovas a New York Times top "Pick for your Local Wine Shop." Vanessa holds certifications with theCourt of Master Sommeliers and Italian WineCentral, and previously served as a judge for several Virginia wine competitions including the Governor's and Monticello Cups. Her passion for educating and caring for people through the enjoyment of wine is supported by her husband of 15 years and their three four-legged children.

Frank Morgan

Frank Morgan is the author of the wine blog, started ten years ago to chronicle his wine travel experiences and to share stories of the wines, wineries, and winegrowers of Virginia. Morgan is the wine columnist for The Virginian-Pilot newspaper and contributor for Piedmont VirginianMagazine, Savor Virginia Magazine, Dine, Wine & Stein Magazine, edibleDC magazine, the wine site Snooth, and the founder of the monthly virtual wine tasting series Virginia Wine Chat (started in 2013).

Lindsey Parris

A business economist, author, and retired AF colonel with advanced degrees from and teaching experience at FSU and Harvard with a long-time love of wines during his careers in the private and public sectors.

He has judged and worked with the Virginia Governor's wine competition the past nine years, has moderated panels for the Eastern Winery Exposition, and is a senior wine and spirits instructor at the Capital Wine School and for Adventure Wine. He holds the Diploma in Wine and Spirits (DWS) from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust and is an Associate Member of the Institute of Wines & Spirits (AIWS). In addition to the WSET Diploma, he has teaching certifications in wine and spirits from the Society of Wine Educators, Italian Wine Central (Italian Wine Professional), Burgundy, and Provence. He is also a BNIC-Accredited Cognac Educator who presents at Cognac Day for Cognac's US sister city near Miami and conducts Master-level Cognac seminars at institutions such as the Miami Culinary Institute, as well as a certified instructor for the French Wine Scholar and Spanish Wine Scholar programs of the WineScholar Guild. He is a co-founder of Spanish-American Wine Merchants, served on the board of SpiritsAcquisitions, an incubator company for developing emerging wine and spirits brands, including ClydeMay's whiskey, and now a board member for vodka start-up Monkey in Paradise. He works with marketing and strategic business issues in the wine and spirits industry, and he instructs and lectures on wine topics in a variety of venues.

Matt Perella

Matt Perrellais a wine professional based in Washington, DC in the Masters of Wine Study Program. He currently works with Italian wine importer and distributor Vinifera Imports and teaches classes to consumers and trade professionals. In addition, Matt is a WSET (Wine and Spirits EducationTrust) Certified Instructor at the Capital Wine School in Washington, DC.

Matt has experience in multiple aspects of the industry, including fine wine retail and working at wineries in Oregon and Washington State.

Greg Trevarthen

Greg is a native of Virginia and a long-time enthusiast and aficionado of Virginia wine, cider, beer, mead and distilled spirits. A program manager in the Department of Defense with two degrees from Hampden-Sydney and an advanced degree from Boston University, Greg began a life-long interest and education in fermented and distilled beverages across the United States, Asia, the Pacific Rim and Europe during his career in the Marine Corps.  

Greg has a tasting background in the many styles of ciders across the Iberian Peninsula, France, England and North America, and actively seeks unique offerings and operations.  His current projects include a cider-focused webpage focused on Virginia. 

He holds a Level 3 in Wine & Sprit Education Trust (WSET), the Wine Scholar Guild’s French Wine Scholar (FWS) Certification and has completed The Wines of Northern Italy portion of the Italian Wine Scholar course and certification. After a break for career, Greg looks forward to completing his last unit for the WSET Diploma in the next several months. 

Kasia White

Kasia has loved wine since she studied abroad in France, at which point she was exposed to the “best wines in the world” according to her host family–French wine! Luckily, she already had some experience in the restaurant world, and upon her return to the states, she continued to grow and develop as a wine enthusiast and wine professional. In the more recent years, she managed a winery in the developing wine region of Virginia, worked as a Sommelier of a luxury resort, and continued to spend her free time learning about (and teaching about) wine through the WSET (Wine and Spirit Education Trust) at the Capital Wine School. She is a WSET Certified Educator and a Diploma (Level 4) Graduate.

Jay Youmans

Judging Director
Jay Youmans has been tasting wine professionally for nearly 30 years. He is the Educational Director and owner of the Capital Wine School, and the owner of Rock Creek Wine Merchants, a sales and marketing consultancy. Jay has served as a wine judge for numerous wine competitions, and has contributed to several books and magazines on wine. Over the years, he has conducted hundreds of public, private, and corporate wine tasting events. Jay is an Advanced Level Sommelier, a Certified Wine Educator (CWE), and Washington, DC's only Master of Wine (MW).

Doug Zerbst

Douglas Zerbst is the Director of Fine Wine for Republic National Distributing Co. of Virginia. He has many years of experience in restaurants, kitchens and hotels as a chef, food and beverage manager and sommelier.


The Governor's Cup Case Winners

View Winners