In 1977, the first annual Orange County Fair Commercial Wine Competition was held on July 10 at the South Coast Plaza Hotel in Costa Mesa. A total of 92 wines were entered representing only two popular varietals—Chenin Blanc and Gamay Beaujolais. Also, unlike other competitions, no entry fees were charged and wines were judged in three price categories—inexpensive, moderate, and premium. Wines were also separated into dry and off-dry categories. We invited 18 vintners, winery principals, or winemakers as judges. The original tasting was done “blind” and scoring was done using the then accepted Davis 20-Point System.
Many of the first judges included such recognizable names as Richard Arrowood, Steve Mirassou, John Parducci, Don Sebastiani, and Rodney Strong, with later notable participants Albert Cribari, Ray Krause, Jerry Lohr, and Phyllis Pedrizzetti.
We are proud that our competition continues the high standard of judging today with a list of elite judges such as Steve Lohr, Joseph S. Franzia, Fred Weibel and Gary Eberle.
The Competition has grown significantly in size and breaking down the entries into finer categories. Over 150 different varietals have been represented in the competition, and the number of entries has topped 3,200. We have also moved to the 100-point system.Learn More