For over 25 years the American Wine Society (AWS), the oldest and largest group of wine consumers, has had a mission to educated wine enthusiasts from all over the country that every wine has a story. Those stories include individuals of all aspects of the wine trade who share the love of the grape and come together as members, to learn about different types of wine and winemaking, along with pairing food with the right wine.
The Wilkes-Barre Diamond City Chapter of the American Wine Society embraced this mission by holding their First Annual Amateur Wine Competition on May 28 in an effort to appreciate wine through education. The event was held at the Woodlands Inn, Highway 315, in Wilkes-Barre and was coordinated by AWS Diamond City Vice President and Diamond City AWS Facebook coordinator James Powell of Avoca.
The Diamond City Amateur Wine Competition, an annual event, featured six amateur wine makers along with over 35 members of the Diamond City Chapter who acted as judges. Wine makers judged the competitors on the basis of appearance, ingredients, and taste.
Among the top three competitors included first place gold medallist Stephen Pendrak of Jefferson Township, second place silver medallist Leo J. Sperrazza of Pittston, and third place bronze medallist Andy Kosik of Laflin.
Pendrak took first place for his 2011 Curio Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, a variety blend consisting of 88 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, six percent Merlot, three percent Malbec, and three percent of Pinot Noir.
The red jam, cherry tart wine, with a hint of blackberry, contains 30 gallons of must, capitalized with cane sugar, to bring it up to a potential alcohol content of up to 14 percent. It is then fermented with the finest yeast and is contained in a stainless steel compartment to complete dryness. After inoculation the wine spent a month undergoing conversion, another nine months in medium plus French oak staves, and finally another year of aging and clarification in a stainless steel tank.
“This red wine is made with fresh juice from the finest grapes,” Pendrak said. “I’m very proud to say that it also won a bronze medal at the 2013 AWS National Convention.”
Sperrazza placed for his 2010 Bordeaux Style Left Bank Blend. The wine contains 50 percent Merlot, 25 percent Cabernet Franc, and 25 percent Cabernet Sauvignon. Sperrazza’s wine was featured in WineMaker Magazine and he has had much success in the wine community.
“The wines used were fermented independently with different yeast strains to add complexity,” Sperrazza said. “The wines were then blended at the time of aging for one year in French oak which captures its taste.”
Kosik placed third for his Red Zinfandel. According to the AWS website, “Red Zinfandel often offers a fruity taste followed by a smoky finish.”
Powell explained how each wine maker made the event a great success.
“All of our wine makers whether they placed or not, can truly be proud of their wines,” Powell said. “We encourage more people who have a passion for wine to get involved with the Diamond City Chapter.
The AWS Diamond City Chapter meets at the Wodlands Inn in Wilkes-Barre on the fourth Wednesday of every month at 7 p.m. To learn more about the AWS Diamond City Chapter and to get involved with future events, you can contact James Powell at firstname.lastname@example.org or at Facebook.com/Diamond City American Wine Society.