Wine: Eat, drink and tarry at Grape & Gourmet

One of the most influential wine judging events took place last month.

On Thursday, the public will have a chance to make its own determination at the California Grape & Gourmet, when winners of the 2009 California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition pour medal-winners at the Sacramento Convention Center.

This will undoubtedly be the premier tasting of the year, said Pooch Pucilowski, wine competition chairman and organizer of Grape & Gourmet.

IF YOU GOCalifornia Grape & Gourmet offers unlimited tasting of 600 State Fair medal-winning wines from more than 300 wineries, and food from 90 Northern California restaurants.

Along with wine, Northern California restaurants and microbreweries will participate.

After discussing some of the winners with Pucilowski and taking a quick glance at the list of winners, a couple of surprising facts came up.

• Just like current consumption patterns, red wines continue to build in interest and the quality of several varietals are making lasting impressions.

• Barbera and petite sirah entries are up substantially while other reds, such as syrah, have fallen off.

Pucilowski said there were only 12 barbera entries in 1996, along with 20 petite sirahs. This year there are 53 barberas and 102 petite sirahs respectively having been entered.

• While syrah has grown from 29 in 1996 to 153 entries this year, it peeked in 2005 with 225 entries.

• Wines from the Sierra foothills and Lodi did extremely well in all three of these categories. Double gold medals went to winemaker Jeff Runquist of Amador County for his 2007 barbera, along with petite sirahs from Twisted Oak of Calaveras County and Michael David of Lodi.

You can taste these award winners yourself.

Tickets are $50 in advance through today by calling the box office at 916-808-5181 or $70 at the door.

Get 10 friends together and the price drops to $40 per person.

Wine picks are from Tom Bender, wine instructor at Columbia College and wine steward for O'Brien's Market,
4120 Dale Road, Modesto, 545-8100. E-mail him at or •