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November 1, 2015

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Archives 2015



Thunder Road Wineries Strike Gold!

Local Vintners win awards at Wines of the South Regional Wine Competition

Taking home a total of 30 awards, four wine makers and members of East Tennessee's Thunder Road Wine Trail earned high honors in the 2015 Wines of the South Regional Wine Competition, hosted by the University of Tennessee at Knoxville's Food Science Technology Department. Winners were announced Thursday, October 29, on the competition's website.

Thunder Road Wine Trail opened in September, joining six independent wineries stretching from Knoxville to Butler, Tennessee. Visitors to the wineries travel on the scenic and historic Thunder Road and Copperhead Road moonshine trails. But today, award-winning wines are offered along the way.

Wayne Gay, winemaker at Watauga Lake Winery in Butler, Tennessee, received the William O. Beach Award for Best of Tennessee Wine for his 2014 Cracker Neck Red wine.

"Winning the William O. Beach Award is particularly rewarding," said Wayne, winemaker at Watauga Lake Winery. The Tennessee Farm Winegrowers Alliance awards the annual William O. Beach Award for the best wine made from 100 percent Tennessee grapes. Watauga Lake Winery also received an additional Gold Medal.

The Winery at Seven Springs Farm in Maynardville, Eagle Springs Winery in Kodak, and Goodwater Vineyards in Mosheim also took home awards. Thunder Road Wine Trail wineries earned a total of 12 Gold Medals, seven of which were Concordance Gold (unanimous Gold ranking), 12 Silver Medals and six Bronze Medals.

The four wineries who entered the competition have been in operation less than three years, with The Winery at Seven Springs Farm opening in September 2015.

"This is really great news," said Rick Riddle, Founder of Thunder Road Wine Trail. "This new generation of vintners is certainly making their mark on the wine industry in the United States."

In an unprecedented showing, The Winery at Seven Springs Farm received five Concordance Gold Medals, including sharing Best of Muscadine, and three Silver Medals for the eight wines produced by Winemaker Nicole Riddle.

"Every winemaker seeks the elusive, perfect wine," said Nicole Riddle. "Exactly what 'perfect' means is specific to the winemaker and the many decisions made when the grapes reach the winery." Nicole Riddle describes her winemaking style as fruit forward and balanced. She uses modern technology and technique to shape the vintage. Nicole wants the fruit to dominate, picking the grapes at the moment when acidity level and sweetness are perfectly in balance. Her Vineyard White, a Concordance Gold winner, is characteristic of her style; a vibrant wine that bursts with flavor, while remaining crisp, fresh and aromatic.

Goodwater Vineyards' 2014 Rebecca's Red also received a Concordance Gold Medal and the winery received an additional Gold Medal. "Benchmarking one's wines against others is important," said Laura Poland of Goodwater Vineyards. "Gold Medals give your winery pride, prestige and bragging rights." They also make retailers, restaurateurs, and sommeliers take notice, she added.

Eagle Springs Winery in Kodak received three Gold Medals. "Having a wine rated against other wines in blind competition by professional judges gives the winery manager an objective measure of wine quality," said Chasity Grogan, General Sales Manager at Eagle Springs Winery.

Wines of the South is an annual regional wine competition designed to promote and celebrate the great tastes of Southern vintages. Wineries in fourteen southern states are invited to submit wines for the competition, and 2015 marked the 14th annual year for the Wines of the South competition. Wines of the South medals and awards are recognized by consumers and distributors throughout the United States.