The American AgCredit Sweepstake Winemaker Award is awarded to the winemaker that produces a sweepstake wine award at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.
Sparkling Sweepstake Award
Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards
2010 Blanc de Blancs, Carneros, $42.00
Steven Urberg’s finely tuned sense of focus, passion for detail, and strong science background are indispensable in crafting Gloria Ferrer sparkling and estate varietal wines. As a young man from Detroit, who came to California by way of U.C. Berkeley for graduate school in chemistry, Steven discovered that winemaking provided a way in which to use his innate technical ability in creating wine as an art. His journey into winemaking began in 1995, when he decided to take a break from chemistry. Steven first arrived at Gloria Ferrer during the harvest of 1996 and he returned in 2001 as a full-time member of the Gloria Ferrer winemaking team. He joined Bob Iantosca and Mike Crumly, who have grown grapes and made Gloria Ferrer wines together for more than a quarter century.
“In 2010, the Gloria Ferrer Carneros estate vineyards benefitted from a near perfect growing season. The 2010 Blanc de Blancs reflects this. Three and a half years of age on the yeast adds light brioche to the vineyard characters of citrus, pear and green apple in this wine, and it will continue to improve with age on the cork. We are so proud that the largest competition of American wines in the world appreciates the beauty and elegance of this sparkling Chardonnay.” Steven Urberg
White Sweepstake Award
Dr. Konstantin Frank
Finger Lakes, NY
2013 Riesling, Semi Dry, $14.99
Peter Weis is a German winemaker at Dr. Frank’s, who excels at producing some of the most iconic Rieslings in the Finger Lakes region. Born in Zell, Germany Weis grew up in a winemaking family in the Mosel region where his family continues to operate a small vineyard and winery. He attended the technical school for winemaking and viticulture at Bad Kreuznach and worked at four different German wineries prior to joining the Dr. Frank winemaking team in 2006.
Weis sources most of his grapes for the Semi-Dry Riesling from the winery’s vineyards along the eastern side of Seneca Lake, an excellent site for Riesling production.
“As a native German with an avid appreciation for Riesling, I believe that no other American regions come close to producing Riesling the way the Finger Lakes region does. The minerality and slate of the soils and overall climate of the Finger Lakes are conducive to brilliant Riesling production. I have long believed that the Dr. Frank Semi-Dry Riesling is the most representative of Finger Lakes region and is a must for those looking to experience Finger Lakes Riesling at its finest.” Peter Weis
Chris Pisani & Brandon deLeuze
White Sweepstake Award
Winemaker and Associate Winemaker
ZD Wines, Napa
2013 California Chardonnay $38.00
ZD’s dynamic winemaking team consists of winemakers Chris Pisani and 3rd generation family member, Brandon deLeuze, associate winemaker. Both found their passion for winemaking early in life and honed their craft at UC Davis and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, respectively. Founded in 1969, ZD Wines is proud to be celebrating over 45 years of producing world class Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.
“What an honor it is to be recognized for the wine that we have been making consistently delicious for 45 years now.” Chris Pisani, Winemaker
“We are so privileged to be able to produce what we love and have others enjoy it as much as we do. We truly appreciate the honors. Cheers to another 45 years of ZD Wines!” Brandon deLeuze, Associate Winemaker
Pink Sweepstake Award
Robert Hall Winery, Paso Robles
2014 Rose de Robles, Paso Robles, $14.00
A graduate of Texas Tech University’s horticulture program, Don Brady relocated to Paso Robles after enjoying his tenure with iconic Texas wineries like Pheasant Ridge, Llano Estacado and St. Genevieve. The award winning winemaker worked for Delicato Family Vineyards prior to joining Robert Hall Winery in 2001. In 2006, Don was named “Central Coast Winemaker of the Year” and lead the company to be recognized as the “Golden State Winery of the Year” in 2010. As Winemaker and Director of Operations, Don continues to lead the team at Robert Hall with the goal of capturing the “essence of Paso Robles”TM in every bottle.
“The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition is one of the best (if not the best) national competitions we have available to showcase our efforts. The competition hires a group of savvy judges that well represent the desires of the wine market; so we are delighted to receive this award.” Don Brady
Red Sweepstake Award
Winemaker, Pezzi King
Wilson Artisan Wineries, Healdsburg
2012 Estate Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, Row 14 Reserve, $50.00
Winemaker Chris Barrett is a native to the Sonoma County wine country and has a biology degree from Chico State University. Chris has always had one foot in the lab and the other in the cellar. He worked for Vinquiry learning the ins and outs of wine analysis while developing his skills in winemaking products. After working the harvest of 2007, Chris felt the need to craft his own wines. Chris joined Pezzi King as the Assistant Winemaker/Cellar Master and was rapidly promoted to winemaker before the 2008 harvest.
The 2015 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition Sweepstakes award is Chris’ fourth Sweepstakes award in just seven years of winemaking.
“Pezzi King has high expectations for the fruit and the wines that are produced here and it is up to me to maintain that level of quality.” Chris Barrett
Red Sweepstake Award
2012 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Founders Reserve, $65.00
Winemaking is often a trade passed down from generation to generation, and Mick Schroeter is no exception. Starting out on his own as an oenologist at Kaiser Stuhl winery in Australia, Mick wanted to blaze his own trail. Then in 1982, as fate would have it, his father and uncle’s winery Penfold bought Kaiser Stuhl and reunited Mick with his family in the business. Mick rose rapidly through the Penfold system was part of their red winemaking team, eventually working on the legendary Grange Hermitage, the benchmark of Aussie Shiraz. In 1993, he took on the position of vice president of winemaking at Geyser Peak Winery where he remained for 17 years.
Twice Mick was named “Winemaker of the Year” at the London International Wine & Spirit Competition and in2010, Mick took the reins as winemaker at Sonoma-Cutrer.
“We’ve been working hard on our Pinot Noirs over the last few years, both in our Estate Vineyards and at our small Artisan Pinot Noir winery. To receive this honor and recognition from one of the most prestigious & highly competitive competitions in the United States has the entire Sonoma-Cutrer wine-making team over the moon with excitement!” Mick Schroeter
Dessert Sweepstake Award
Chalet Debonne Vineyards
2013 Vidal Blanc Ice Wine, $29.99
Ed Trebets has been the winemaker for Chalet Debonne Vineyards, Grand River Cellars and South River Vineyards in Madison and Harpersfield, Ohio since 2004. Prior to winemaking, he taught high school chemistry in the Beachwood City School District. Ed and his wife Gina have been married since 2007 and reside in Chesterland, Ohio with their two year old son Jaxson and their puppy Paisley. Ed and Gina have their own brand called Muddy Paw Wines where they give a dollar per bottle back to the Geauga County Humane Society’s Rescue Village. In his spare time, Ed enjoys fishing, hunting, and spending time with his family.
“The 2013 Vidal Blanc Ice Wine was harvested December 12th of 2013. This was an early harvest for ice wine, but what resulted was a perfect balance between sugar and acid which produced this extraordinary dessert wine.” Ed Trebets
Label Sweepstake Award
Inizi, Calistoga, CA
2012 Calistoga Napa Valley Charbono
Lindsay Huck, a.k.a. Huckster, currently resides in Austin, TX. She has worked for a production company, a newspaper, a couple of corporations and even a design agency. During this time, she was a graphic designer for film, web and print-based media. She has also been a flash animator/programmer and picked up some web development along the way. Lindsay has 13 years of experience in the creative industry and always wanted to start her own design firm. Huckster Design was initially just a vision, then as part-time freelance shop was finally fully established in 2009.
In her free time, she likes travel, going for hikes and designing wine labels.
“We are absolutely thrilled and honored to have our label recognized on this level. Lindsay designed a label that is a perfect reflection of our wines: organic, modest, and memorable. We couldn’t be prouder of her and look forward to a long working relationship.” John Harley, Winemaker-Partner, Inizi, Two World Wine Co.