The Winemaker Challenge website is up now, with a list of the winemakers/judges, rules, etc.

This wine competition is an important one, not only for the accolades that it will brings to wine companies for those all important third party endorsements, but also for the stellar line-up of those who are judging the wines. It’s the winemaker’s wine competition, being judged completely by winemakers. This is a first ever…

The entry booklet should be in the mail by mid-October.  Nationally syndicated wine columnist Robert Whitely is the wine competition’s organizer, and his office will be sending out emails that will advise wineries and others to watch for it. It will then have another mailing, as the competition approaches.


  • January 23-24, 2010, San Diego, California
  • Final Entry Deadline: January 11, 2010
  • Early Bird Deadline: December 14, 2009

According to Whitley, “One of the driving principles of my new “Challenge” series of wine competitions is to deliver a level of skill in judging that is beyond reproach. That means I look for the best possible judges — wine professionals I respect and admire — and work overtime to recruit them to the team. So I was pleased when I landed winemaker James Hall late last week for the Winemaker Challenge in January. James has been on a roll these past four to five vintages, knocking out some of the finest pinots and chardonnays California has ever seen at the Patz & Hall winery.” [Quote from September 21, 2009]

The inaugural Winemaker Challenge will be filled with star power, when it makes its debut in January, 2010. The cast of winemaker judges includes the following:

  • Merry Edwards of Merry Edwards wines
  • cutting-edge pinot noir and chardonnay specialist James Hall of Patz & Hall, Napa Valley
  • winemaking legend Ric Forman
  • another winemaking legend Ed Sbragia
  • Eberle Winery’s very own Gary Eberle, the Godfather of winemaking in California’s Paso Robles appellation.
  • Darice Spinelli of Nickel & Nickel
  • Daryl Groom
  • Tentative ~ Mike Richmond

The Winemaker Challenge is the final piece in the “Challenge” series of wine competitions conceived by Whitley. It joins the acclaimed Critics Challenge and Sommelier Challenge, which have spawned a new era in the world of wine competitions.

The goal of each Challenge is to deliver impeccable evaluation of new wine releases from the unique perspective of the three important sectors of the wine industry — winemakers, sommeliers and wine journalists — most often looked to for professional analysis.

It is Whitley’s pledge to provide the very best environment for wine tasting and evaluation, but it all starts with the quality of their judges. “We believe that across the board the Challenge series judges are second to none,” states Robert Whitley.

SIDEBAR: To make your stay in America’s Finest City more memorable, there is a wide variety of San Diego events that you can participate in.

Contact Information:

Robert Whitley (619) 804-0371,

Felicia Forbes (619) 254-7117,

Good luck to all who enter… The creds you’ll get from this one is like money in the bank.