Third Drink Outside the Grape competition announces winners

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – The third annual Drink Outside the Grape competition took place in Charlottesville, VA, on Aug. 8, resulting in 83 medals for fruit wines, meads, ciders and fruit brandies; 21 golds, 33 silvers and 27 bronze medals in addition to the five “Best of Category” winners.

The Drink Outside the Grape competition is truly international; entries came from as far as India and Israel as well as the U.S. and Canada. In the U.S., high-quality, locally grown fruit wines came from as far apart as Alaska and Florida. The judges this year commented that quality and focus in winemaking were much higher this year than in the past.

Best of Category awards included: cider – a varietal Gold Rush from Arsenal Cider House & Wine Cellar, Inc. in Pittsburgh, PA; fruit wine – Montezuma Winery in Seneca Falls, NY, for their “Dragonfly,” an apple wine and black currant blend; mead – Haymaker Meadery of Pennsylvania for their “Montgomery,” a traditional style mead; liqueurs – Morad Winery of Israel for their double espresso liqueur; and distilled – Laird’s Distillery of Scobeyville, NJ, and North Garden, VA, for their “Straight Applejack 86.” Arsenal Cider House & Wine Cellar also won the most medals in the competition with 13.

The Drink Outside the Grape competition takes place in early August and is judged by industry professionals from a variety of specialties and wine and beverage writers. Two judges have authored books on fruit wine production and one has patented a dozen briar fruit varieties through the University of Western Maryland. Judges this year were Dr. Joseph Fiola, small fruit specialist and enologist at the University of Western Maryland; Robert Harllee, former owner of the Market Street Wineshop in Charlottesville, VA; Doug Hotz, owner of the Rio Hill Wine & Gourmet in Charlottesville, VA; Christine Iezzi of the Country Vintner (distributor) of Charlottesville, VA; Dominic Rivard, author of The Fruit Winemaker’s Complete Guide of Nova Scotia; and Amy Shumaker of Blue Bee Cidery in Richmond, VA.

Complete medal results and judge biographies are available at

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