State Fair Wine Competition

The California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition has been an integral part of California’s wine industry since the first state fair in 1854, and one of its most important points is its emphasis on place: wines are categorized by where the grapes are grown, not the site of the winery.  It is the only competition to partition California into 11 wine regions and to recognize the best wines of each, and the only competition to designate best varietals and styles in California. Categories judged at the State Fair range from dry white through red table wines to dessert wines; low-and de-alcoholized products, brandies, and flavored wines. The first winery in Sacramento was established in the 1850s by German immigrant Jacob Knauth. By 1858 he was making wine of excellent quality, and winning state fair premiums. Unfortunately, his wine cellars were destroyed in the catastrophic 1861–62 floods. Newer wineries established in the 1870s and later included the Gerke Winery on 11th Street, the California and Pioneer Wineries at 21st and R, the Eagle Winery on 18th Street, and the Mazzini Winery on 3rd Street. The Roma Winery on 15th Street produced 80,000 gallons of wine and 6,000 gallons of brandy annually at its peak. None of Sacramento’s pioneer wineries survived Prohibition.


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