The Virginia Wineries Association, in partnership with the Virginia Wine Board & the Virginia Vineyards Association, is pleased to announce the 2020 Virginia Governor's Cup, one of the most stringent competitions in the US

Who: A world-class panel of judges with decades of experience

Meet this year's judges ›

What: The most outstanding wines Virginia has to offer competing

View the wine judging criteria ›

Why: To determine the winner of the 2019 Virginia Governor's Cup

View past Governor's Cup winners ›

In 2020, nineteen world-class judges will sample just over 530 of the best Virginia Wines from 105 Virginia Wineries. The highest 12 ranking red & white wines will become the Governor's Case and will be highlighted along with all gold medalists at the Virginia Governor's Cup Celebration on Tuesday, February 25th, 2020.

Tasting Notes

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

  • Appearance: clear or dull, color, intensity, other visual observations
  • Aroma: descriptors as to clean or faulty aromatics, fruit, floral, vegetal, spice, oak, chemical, animal, and intensity
  • Flavor: dry, off dry, etc. RS, character of the alcohol, acidity, body, tannin, oak, fruit, floral, vegetal, spice, oak, chemical, animal, and intensity
  • Overall Quality
  • Commercial Suitability

The average wine score will be used to determine if it qualifies for a medal.

Gold - Outstanding/Classic
90-100 points
Silver - Very Good
85-89 points
Bronze - Good
80-84 points

Rating Scale

Ratings will use the 100 point Wine Spectator scale.

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

  • 100
    A Classic Wine Among The Best Wines In The World
  • 94
    Outstanding Superior Character And Style
  • 89
    Very Good A Wine With Special Qualities
  • 84
    Good A Well Made Wine Of Good Quality
  • 79
    Average A Drinkable Wine That May Have Minor Flaws
  • 74
    Not Recommended (NR)
  • 49
    No Score (NS)

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.

Meet the Judges

* alternate for preliminary round

** alternate for final round

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).

Past Governor's Cup Winners