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NMSU viticulture program and course students earn gold at New Mexico State Fair Wine Judging competition

At this year’s New Mexico State Fair Wine Judging competition, students from New Mexico State University earned several accolades, including one of only 11 gold medals awarded this year.

Felipe Gonzales, Tracy Esslinger, Bernd Maier and Kristina Gonzales pose for a photo in the NMSU Fermentation Lab during the Wine Making, Production Costs & Marketing for Small Wineries class in 2013. (Courtesy photo)

NMSU entered wines on behalf of the NMSU Viticulture Program, directed by Bernd Maier.

The competition had a total of 186 entries this year, which earned 11 gold, 73 silver and 65 bronze medals.

“We had six medal winning wines made here at NMSU that we entered into the judging,” Maier said. “Two silvers and were awarded to Fabian Garcia’s Sweet Red and a port style wine. The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2014 Malbec, 2013 Durif and a Green Chile wine scored a bronze medal each.”

Lee and Maria Jones, former students of the Economics of Making and Marketing Wine course, received the gold medal.

“We entered a Zinfandel blend in the Premier Vintners Award Category 350. Wines entered in this event are required to be from 100 percent New Mexico grapes, and be made and bottled by the winemaker entering the wine,” Lee said. “The blend was 75 percent Zinfandel, 20 percent Shiraz and 5 percent Viognier. All of the grapes were from our vineyard near Tularosa.”

The painstaking process to make the gold-winning wine took eight months to complete.
We were pleasantly surprised and excited to win a gold medal,” Maria added. “We feel fortunate to have Bernd Maier, Dr. Bill Gorman and Daniel Goodrich as resources and believe they were instrumental in our success.”

“Wine competitions are important because they tell a winemaker how his wine compares to other wines made from grapes grown in similar conditions and with similar techniques,” Maier said. “It is especially important for the future of our course and our students to know the wine produced during class time is a product that can be held next to any wine.” Maier said.

Maier added that this competition is important because it shows the quality of work and dedication that go into making a bottle of wine.

“Placing for medals is important for NMSU students and the instructors as it shows that they are capable of making wines that can compete with those throughout the state. It also shows the quality of work that goes into the class here at NMSU,” he said.