The wines entered into the 2019 Indy International Wine Competition numbered more than 1,800, and came from 361 wineries in 12 countries around the world.
And in the end, the wine that slayed them all, the wine that captured the top “Best of Show” award designating the single best wine out of 1,836 entries, was a humble $13 white wine from a tiny boutique winery in Iowa that doesn’t even have a tasting room open to the public.
Dubuque Heritage Winery, which describes itself on the Travel Iowa web page as “one of Iowa's smallest boutique wineries” operating out of a “production-only facility,” won the Indy competition’s “Best of Show” for its “Eagle Point American White Table Wine.” It is made from a white-wine grape called LaCrescent, familiar to winemakers but hardly a household grape variety to consumers.
Reached via Facebook last night, May 23, shortly after the results were announced, Matt Haas, owner and winemaker of Dubuque Heritage Winery, said, “Right now, I am awestruck, and just trying to let it all sink in.”
This morning, Haas added, “I was truly honored to receive this award, especially coming from a very small winery here in Dubuque; and Iowa for that matter.”
“Getting an award of this caliber really helps the Iowa wine industry in that it shows what unique wines Iowa and especially the Midwest can make from these newer grape varieties that we can call our own.”
The LaCrescent grapes that went into the Eagle Point were grown about 50 miles south of Dubuque, Haas said.
Dubuque Heritage Winery produces about 500 cases a year total, tiny even by Iowa winery standards. It sells its wines primarily at three farmers markets, in Dubuque, Davenport and Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
“We have a few wholesale accounts and also sell our wines at a couple of all-Iowa wine shops around the Des Moines area,” Haas said.
Anne Zwink, winemaker and general manager of Soldier Creek Winery in Fort Dodge, Iowa, served as one of the 44 judges for the Indy competition, which was held May 22-23 on the campus of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. She was pleased to see an Iowa wine take top honors.
“This award validates the efforts of the hard-working men and women making wine in Iowa today, and will help put Iowa wines on the map for wine lovers across the country,” Zwink said.
Indiana wines won two categories: Brown County Winery’s Vista Rose was awarded the “Rose Wine of the Year” designation, while Creekbend Vineyard won “Best Dessert Wine” for its estate-bottled Vidal Blanc Ice Wine.
The “Best Red” award went to Michael Gill Cellars 2016 Black Tie Syrah, estate bottled in Paso Robles, California. Barefoot Bubbly won “Sparkling Wine of the Year” for its Pink Moscato, and Dancing Dragonfly Winery’s Ballet, which had placed second for best white wine, was elevated to White Wine of the Year when the Iowa wine was named best of show. It is made in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin. And Talon Winery near Lexington, Ky. won best fruit wine for its Sugar Lips Peach wine.
Ohio wines that captured double-gold medals and were part of the Best of Show taste-off included Ferrante Gewurz, which a week earlier won “Best of Show” at the Ohio Wine Competition, and Breitenbach Four Barrel “4” Tawny Port.
The author of this story, Mark Fisher, served as a judge at the Indy International Wine Competition.