It's comforting to know that if we were ever completely cut off from the rest of the world, we'd still have good wine up in these parts. The results are in for the wine competition at the Humboldt County Fair, and local grapes are representing. A panel of seven judges picked the winning bottles out of 60 wines from 15 wineries and individual vintners.
Briceland Vineyard emerged as the top winery, actually tying with itself twice — for Best Wine from Humboldt County grapes and Best Other White with its sparkling brut and 2012 Riesling. Fieldbrook took Best White with its 2012 chardonnay from Mendocino grapes. (Full disclosure, Fieldbrook is the family winery of the Journal's publisher Judy Hodgson.)
Best Pinot Noir went to Rosina Vineyards for its 2009 pinot made from Humboldt grapes, and Best Other Red went to Frog Alley Cellars for its 2010 petite sirah from Lake County grapes.
Francis Brazil of Frog Alley in Ferndale sold tractors for Peterson Tractor for 40 years before retiring and making the natural transition to wine. He turned pro in 2008, but says he'd been "foolin' around with it for a few years." Frog Alley Cellars only turns out 500-600 cases a year — pretty stingy for a commercial operation — and they typically sell out.
Susan Combes, who started the competition at the fair, snagged some half-empties after the judging was done. Which does she like so far? The Fieldbrook pinot and the Frog Alley pinot are her favorites so far. But there's plenty more wine to drink.