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Local winery sweeps San Francisco Chronicle's wine competition

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By Jacquelyn Stoess Hack

Smith-Berry Vineyard and Winery recently swept the 2012 San Francisco Chronicle wine competition.

The vineyard earned a silver medal for the Single Barrel Select American Oak and a bronze medal for the 2007 Zinfandel, as well as a bronze medal for the 2008 Kentucky Cabernet Sauvignon. This competition set a new American wine competition record with 5,500 entries, surpassing its previous record of 5,050 last year.

For nine consecutive years, this competition holds strong as the “Largest Competition of American Wines in the World.”

Until 2012, Smith-Berry Vineyard and Winery had never submitted its wines for any competition.

“Winning these awards on the first judging ever entered makes this a special moment for us,” said co-owner/winemaker Chuck Smith.

All wines at Smith-Berry Vineyard and Winery are estate bottled, but the vineyard's philosophy goes beyond conventional definition.

The grapes are hand harvested and fermented in small distinct lots.

"Our personal handling of the vines, grapes and finished wine allows the ultimate expression of our farm's produce," Smith said.

The Single Barrel Select in American Oak is a chardonel varietal sourced locally and fermented in stainless for up to 11 months then aged in medium toast new American oak barrels.

The complexities in flavor characteristics lend to an oak apparent yet well balanced wine.

The 2007 Zinfandel has firm, yet fine tannins and will mature well in the bottle for several years. Flavors of dense red berry fruit, plum, and a trace of lavender are accented by American oak and joined by mineral, baking spices, and a hint of black pepper.

Finally, the 2008 100 percent Kentucky Cabernet Sauvignon is a unique wine created from a single vineyard in Millersburg.

The wine has been aged in French oak barrels for 26 months and bottled unfiltered and unfined. It was first released in November 2011 with only 130 cases produced.

Smith-Berry Vineyard and Winery is located in New Castle.