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Stock Show & Rodeo Wine Competition: Raising the Bar

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By Cecil Flentge

The San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo is still a few months away,  but this past Monday 44 judges reviewed 686 wines to decide the gold, silver and bronze winners for the 2012 Wine Garden.

As a wine judge for each of the two previous competitions I was impressed at the friendly, but very professional, organization of this latest event.

For a list of winning wines, click here.

As the volunteers have improved, so have the wines.  I was told that 30 percent of the wines entered would retail for $30 or more.  That shows wineries and distributors are taking the Rodeo competition as seriously as the athletes and exhibitors do in their respective competitions.

I was part of the judging team at one of the nine tables arranged to divide the tasks.  My team tried 11 different groups of wine, almost 80 wines total, yet we only tried wines from seven categories – less than 12  percent of the wines entered.

The good news for me, and for consumers following the rankings, is the wines were better overall.  The top wines were very good, as they usually are, but even wines that did not receive a medal were pleasant.  This again reflects the status that the Stock Show and Rodeo has developed for the Wine Garden.

The Wine Garden is in its third year and will offer for sale the 38 gold medal wines by the taste, the glass or the bottle.

Judges sniff and ponder a white wine category in Monday's Stock Show & Rodeo Competition.

There is also the Champion Wine Auction where you can bid on the celebrated wines.  The funds from this and the Wine Garden fund scholarships for Texas youth.  Some of the scholarships are specifically designated toward viticulture for students attending Texas colleges and universities with programs supporting viticulture.

Awards and scholarships for this year will add more than 300 new scholars to the program.  Currently, there are more than 1,600 active scholarship recipients from the Rodeo in 90 colleges and universities throughout Texas.

Judges were selected from the wine business including distributors, restaurants, and a couple of wine writers.  There were also a few experienced wine aficionados to represent the local consumers.

In the process of determining the winners, the judges used 3,500 glasses to taste wines from 173 American wineries from Texas, California, Oregon and Washington.  Moving that much glassware is a big task and it was accomplished by the over 90 wine committee volunteers who were constantly bringing glasses, removing glasses, washing glasses and refilling glasses.  Salute to them!

Raise a glass at the rodeo to support scholarships.  The San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo will run Feb. 9-26, 2012.

Cecil Flentge is a San Antonio wine educator for professionals or novices and a cooking instructor. Restaurant events or home tastings.  Questions? Email

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