Leelanau News and Events

Traverse Wine Coast Wines Dazzle At 2021 TEXSOM International Wine Awards

By Emily Tyra | May 31, 2021

TEXSOM International Wine Awards just announced the results from its 2021 competition, which took place in Las Colinas, Texas this spring. A striking 69 medals were awarded to wines of the Traverse Wine Coast, made up of wineries from both the Leelanau and Old Mission Peninsulas.

Of the nearly 2,400 entries representing 29 countries and 16 states, 189 wines won a gold medal, representing just 8 percent of wines judged. Among the region’s wineries winning gold were 45 North Vineyard & Winery; Aurora Cellars; Blustone Vineyards; Good Harbor Vineyards; Shady Lane Cellars; and Verterra Winery. 

Tom Knighton of Blustone Vineyards in Lake Leelanau says TEXSOM is “viewed as a competition where the judging is very precise, with all judges highly qualified. An award at TEXSOM says your wines are well-made and stand up to some of the best in the world. The wine has to be an excellent expression of the grape.”

Blustone Vineyards’ 2020 Naked Chardonnay, grown on the Leelanau Peninsula, won a gold medal. Says Knighton, “This comes out of the 2020 vintage where we had some of the ripest fruit we had to work with in several years; the ripeness allowed us to make an old-world style wine with a subtle balance of fruit, acidity, and aromatics. When you taste an unoaked — or what we call naked — chardonnay, you taste what the fruit tastes like…and what we’ve been able to accomplish is the creaminess of a chardonnay with the expressiveness of the fruit.”

He adds that it’s only recently that wineries from the Traverse Wine Coast have focused efforts to enter at TEXSOM, as “a commitment to each other to start entering the most prestigious wine competitions.”

Paul Hamelin, past president/current board member of the Traverse Wine Coast and owner of Leelanau’s Verterra Winery explains, “You have members, including both Old Mission and Leelanau Peninsula wineries, that are not trail-related but regionally focused. The goal is to establish ourselves as a major wine region like you would find in Washington or Sonoma.

“As independent wineries, we would all send wines off to different competitions. There are 15 — easily — a year in North America. There were not enough of us sending wines into the same competition to generate awareness in the critics’ circles. Two years ago, we did an informal survey with master sommeliers, asking ‘where are you really looking at significant scores?’ We said, ‘Let’s now get into some of these really tough competitions — TEXSOM is one of those — that may be lesser known commercially, but critics are really looking at the results.’”

The 2021 TEXSOM entries were blind-tasted and judged by 44 renowned sommelier/tastemakers from across the country. Of the entries judged, the judges awarded 1,814 medals: 51 Judges’ Selection medals; 89 Platinum medals; 189 Gold medals; 731 Silver medals; and 805 Bronze medals.

Three wines — Aurora Cellars’ 2017 Cabernet Franc; Good Harbor Vineyards’ Blanc de Noirs Dry from Benjamin's Vineyard; and Soul Squeeze Cellars’ Rapt Riesling from Bluff View Vineyard on Old Mission — captured the Judges’ Selection award (3 percent of entries judged). Those nominees were subjected to head-to-head judging within expansive categories and 51 were awarded the highest award of the competition.  

Leelanau Cellars (and its family of brands, including the national labels Lakeshore Farms and Farm Fresh) was awarded 11 medals at TEXSOM. The Omena winery’s president Bob Jacobson says, “We’ve been investing in staff, facilities and technology to provide the best product and experience for our customers. It’s exciting to be recognized for the results of this hard work.”

The complete awards are available via the TEXSOM website searchable database, here

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