Everyone loves a little competition and the Shores of Erie Wine Festival committee provided just that for local wineries last week.

About 40 people gathered at the Libro Centre Thursday night for the 2014 Shores of Erie Wine Awards.

Viewpointe Estate Winery in Harrow took home the top prize of Winery of the Year. Oxley Estate Winery won for Best White Wine while North 42 Degrees Estate Winery took home best red.

“I figured something good but no I didn’t expect that,” said Martin Gorski of North 42 Degrees. “It’s a team effort.”

On top of the top awards, 36 medals (12 gold, silver and bronze) were handed out to 11 wineries. A panel of 10 judges from the Wine Judges of Canada picked the award winners from a sample of over 70 wines. Each judge tastes each wine blindly, spits it out, and writes down a score. The average scores determine what colour medal, if any, the winery gets.

One of the judges, Gary Koestler, said that there are a lot of factors that go into judging wine.

“First thing you look at is the colour of the wine… is it appropriate for the type of grape,” he said. “Each wine has a certain aroma to it that matches the grape.”

Koestler added that the taste should match the aroma so that it is “balanced” and that the after taste is “clean and not overly acidic.”

Gary Killops from the festival committee said this was the fifth year the awards have been handed out and that the competition is growing every year.

“Not all the wineries participate but we’re finding each year more and more come on board,” Killops said. “This is a night to celebrate the wines of the region so whether or not they are at the festival, we still encourage them to enter.”

Many of the wines awarded will be showcased at the Shores of Erie Wine Festival during the first weekend of September. And every wine has a story.

Gorksi, who won for his 2012 Pinot Noir, has only been in the wine business since 2007. But when asked what makes a winning wine, he was quick to answer.

“Good grapes.”

This article originally appeared in the Rivertown Times.