Grapevine & Vintner Profile, Wining & Dining

Mediterranean Cellars Wins Big Love at Fauquier Wine Awards

By Nancy Bauer

Mediterranean Cellars Wins Big Love at Fauquier Wine Awards

For years now, it’s been impossible to find a ticket to the annual Fauquier County People’s Choice Wine Awards. They sell out every year, and it’s easy to see why: no queuing in crushing lines, beautiful (indoor) venue at Airlie, tasty wines, and ever-flowing hot and cold hors d’oeuvres. Plus, you get to vote.

Each guest gets three color-coded voting cards – Favorite Red, Favorite White, and Favorite Sweet. At first, the voting concept seems easy enough: when you taste a favorite, you drop your card into a little box on the corresponding table.

This year, fifteen wineries poured tasting samples on two floors of Airlie House, with live music and plentiful platters of cured meats, fancy cheeses, and creative empanadas and such on each level. Forty-one wines were poured “officially,” though a few enthusiastic wineries raised the count with even more unofficial bottles.

As the clock ticks down, the voting cards start to burn a hole in your pocket: time to choose. But how? So many factors enter in: the wine itself, the friendliness of the people pouring the wine (yes, this should not be part of the decision-making process, but let’s admit: it is), your memories of a relaxing day you may have spent at that vineyard. It’s tough, and you may find yourself avoiding eye contact with one table as you drop your card at the next. But quickly, it’s all over but the counting.

While we wait, we talk to Fauquier’s tourism officials to pass the time. “This event happens at a time of year where it is usually pretty quiet for most tourism businesses including the wineries, so this is a really great chance to get out and shake off your cabin fever and try some of the best wines in the region,” says Tourism Coordinator, Laura Torpy.

Miles Friedman, Director Fauquier County’s Economic Development office, adds, “Fine wine is a delight to the senses and Fauquier wines rank among the best in the region and in the Commonwealth.  Wineries make up a substantial share of our business community and are at the core of our appeal to tourists.  By all measures, investment, employment, revenues and quality of life, our wineries play a vital role in Fauquier County.”

And then, a bell assembles those of us who haven’t gone on to dinner (though how is that even possible with all those nibbles?) and the announcements begin.

This year is a sweep for the Papadopoulos family of Mediterranean Cellars in Warrenton, which walks away with an award for Top Red, Top White and Top Sweet. The family’s other winery, Molon Lave, also nabs a Top White award, to much cheering and clapping of the crowd and hugging between the two Papadopoulos sisters in the room, Katherine and Leah.

“This event is a really wonderful one, and it’s so great to see the efforts that Fauquier County is putting forth to promote the wineries in the county,” Katherine wrote to me later. “We were thrilled to take home an award for choice white for our 2018 Pinot Grigio. There were some excellent local wines at this event, and it’s really exciting for me to witness both Louis’ and Louizos’ (owners and winemakers) hard work come to life in these wines. I’m looking forward to next year’s event already!”

Here is the complete list of winners for 2019. Note that no individual scores are announced; the top three vote-getters in each category win equally.

Granite Heights Lomax Reserve 2012
Mediterranean Cellars Pinot Noir 2011
Blue Valley Vineyards Petit Verdot 2016

Mediterranean Cellars Chardonnay 2013
Blue Valley Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2017
Molon Lave Vineyards Pinot Grigio 2018

Mediterranean Cellars Penteli 2008
Desert Rose Winery Mulled Plum Wine
Morais Vineyards Cherry Wine 2017

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