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2002 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Awards Tasting

March 16, 2002

Herbst Pavilion, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco

There were over four thousand guests swirling, sniffing and sipping their way through 1545 medal-winning wines from 400 wineries during the second annual public tasting of California's award-winning wines of the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. The 2003 grand tasting of wine and gourmet foods will be March 15, 2003, 1-5 pm at Festival Pavilion, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, California.

The 2002 Sweepstakes winner in the white category was the 2000 White Meritage produced by St. Supery Winery, Rutherford, Napa County, CA, with a suggested bottle price of $22. The red wine Sweepstakes winner was the 2000 Old Vines Zinfandel from Navarro Vineyards, Philo, Mendocino County, CA selling for $25 per bottle at retail. Wineries of all sizes in California, from the smallest Mom-and Pop operations to the giants of the industry, submitted wines in 24 categories at prices that ranged from a modest $4.95 suggested retail for the Sutter Home 2000 White Zinfandel to the top-of-the-line Robert Mondavi 1998 Napa Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, priced at $125 a bottle.

Vintners and guests alike shared the excitement of having hundreds of medal-winning wines under one roof. "We're reaching out to a whole new crowd," said General Manager Suzanne Frontz of Cinnabar Vineyards & Winery, Saratoga. "This tasting gives small producers an opportunity to showcase their wines in San Francisco."

Besides great wine, visitors can sample a variety of gourmet foods from a select group of Bay Area producers, restaurateurs and caterers. "There's something for everybody," said Jeff Baker of Santa Clara. Last year's "food was well prepared and enhanced the wine tasting experience. It's difficult to appreciate wine without it." Last years visitors expressed their pleasure at meeting the vintners. "This event has better accessibility than other wine events," said Lucia Nardi. "I like trying the wines and talking to the winemakers."

As the principal sponsor of the event, The San Francisco Chronicle was pleased to see a good turnout last year for the first public tasting. "This is a model event for The Chronicle," said Dianne Levy, Chronicle Promotions special projects director. "All comments from the public and our staff attending the tasting were a rousing 'thumbs up'. We're looking forward to the event in 2003."

"The Chronicle's Food Section," said Food Editor Michael Bauer, "has always been filled with 'news you can use': tested recipes, recommended wines by our professional tasting panel and the latest in restaurant news and gossip. Sponsoring this wine competition and public tasting takes us to a new level in consumer education."

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