Wine Competition Returns To Fairplex With Help From Professors, Students

Wine Competition Returns To Fairplex With Help From Professors, Students
Bob Small and Margie Jones ran the wine judging at Fairplex in Pomona.
Matthew Donoghue, was one of about
20 Cal Poly Pomona students working behind the scenes.
Marketing Major Christina Diaz worked with a panel of judges that included Pulitzer Prize winning food critic Jonathan Gold.

The Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition returned to Fairplex in Pomona last week under Professor Bob Small's leadership.

The massive wine competition, formerly called the L.A. County Fair Wines of the World competition, is in its 68th year. From May 16 through May 18, 3,788 wines and 53 tequilas were whiffed, sipped and spit by 76 judges.

Additionally, 396 olive oils crossed the palates of 20 judges during the three-day competition.

“If you get a gold medal here, you will basically sell all your wine,” says Small, chairman of the competition. “This is all about selling wine.”

About 20 Cal Poly Pomona students helped manage the ebb and flow of wine, spirits and olive oil under the direction of Small and Margie Jones, a wine education professor. A number of students also sat with the panels of judges collecting their critiques and gaining first-hand experience observing the judges in action.

The judges are a highly accomplished group of wine connoisseurs. They include master sommeliers, winemakers and buyers, food and wine writers, restaurateurs and more. They each tasted about 200 of the 3,788 wines. The top 50 or so wines were then tasted and critiqued by all the judges.

Freshman Matthew Donoghue, a Hotel and Restaurant Management major, was one of many people working behind the scenes corking and pouring the wine for the competition.

“We have $2 bottles of wine next to $80 bottles,” Donoghue says. “Wines with a cork and wax seal can be next to the wine with the screw cap. The judges don't know what they are getting.”

The results of the competition will be revealed June 16 at the annual Wine & Cars Under The Stars, at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum and Thunder Alley at Fairplex.

The winning wines will also be featured during the L.A. County Fair, Sept. 7 through Sept. 30, at the fair's newly designated Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Marketplace.

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