DOBSON — The hustle and bustle of a busy school day is replaced with the clink of glass and murmured opinions this weekend at Surry Community College.
The college is hosting the 2017 North Carolina Commercial and Amateur Wine Competition in its Shelton-Badgett North Carolina Center for Viticulture and Enology this weekend.
Four tables seat the 16 judges who are sampling entries from all over the state, according to Whit Winslow, executive director of the N.C. Wine and Grape Council, who traveled from Raleigh for the event.
Ashley Morrison, the school’s Sciences Division chair, said earlier this week,”The judges will be winemakers, wine experts, and wine writers from across our region.”
For that reason, Morrison is excited about the networking opportunity this represents for local student volunteers.
“Our students will be working the back room, under the guidance of a very experienced competition organizer, Tom King,” Morrison said before the start. “This is a great opportunity for them to learn through experience how wine competitions work.”
In the back, each bottle is labeled with a code that matches a work sheet that goes out to the judging floor. The winery isn’t disclosed. The judges are given details like the vintage, region of origin, blend (if not a straight variety), residual sugar and alcohol content.
Some blends are quite complex. One entry boasts Cabernet Sauvignon 42 percent, Cabernet Franc 14 percent, Merlot 18 percent, Verdot 10 percent, and Malbec 16 percent.
Something new this year is that all entries must be at least three-fourths sourced from North Carolina, said Winslow. That means the grapes used for the wine or the honey used for the mead category or fruits for hard cider.
Also new this year was one pleasant surprise. Riedel, the 261-year-old glass company, donated all the wine glasses used in the competition, said Winslow.
The competition had to be split up over multiple days because of the volume of entries.
Winslow said some small companies might submit a bottle or two. However, the biggest wineries might send one of everything they make. The entry fee is $25 per bottle; to get the opinions of 16 respectable judges for basically less than $2 each is considered a reasonable cost.
The final tally came to more than 400 entries.
The judging continues today starting at 8:30 a.m. Once all the results are computed, the N.C. Wine and Grape Council will post the results online starting Sept. 1 at www.ncwine.org. The winners will be displayed at the N.C. State Fair in Raleigh held Oct. 12-22.
As for the community college, Morrison said, “Hosting this competition aligns nicely with our mission of education and wine quality enhancement in our state and region.”
Reach Jeff at 415-4692.