Wine Competition Update

When it comes to taking the prize at wine competitions, Magnavino Cellars is having a vintage year.

The Oxnard, California winery recently won the Platinum Best of Class Medal for its 2010 Petite Sirah at the renowned San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

OXNARD, CA (February 2014) – What does a prestigious winery do when it knows it has created some of the smoothest, most unique, artisanal and hand-crafted varietals in its history? Enter them in wine competitions, naturally. That’s exactly what Magnavino Cellars did recently and now the winery, headquartered in Oxnard, California, has a host of new medals to add to its growing collection. The winery’s 2010 Petite Sirah, in all of its inky elegance, won the Platinum Best of Class Medal in the 2014 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Also winning a gold medal at the competition, held in January, was the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon. Magnavino wines also won six silver medals and five bronze medals. To date, the winery has won 46 medals in prestigious North American competitions.

This year is off to a spectacular start,” said Magnavino owner and wine-maker, Robert Wagner. “To have the wines we have carefully fermented, aged and bottled over the last few years win so many medals is incredibly rewarding. Our focus at Magnavino has always been to make wines for people to savor and explore. We’re glad to see that others agree.”

The 2014 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, the largest competition of American wines in the world, took place in January 2014 with 5,825 entries from more than 1,500 wineries. In addition to taking the Platinum Best of Class Medal for the 2010 Petite Sirah, Magnavino also won the following:

  • Gold Medal   – 2010 Cabernet
  • Silver Medal – 2009 Cabernet
  • Silver Medal – 2009 Syrah
  • Silver Medal – 2010 Syrah
  • Silver Medal – 2011 Tuscan Romance
  • Silver Medal – 2010 Trifection
  • Silver Medal – 2010 Old Vine Zinfandel
  • Bronze Medal – 2012 Guilty Pleasures
  • Bronze Medal – 2011 Grenache Rosé
  • Bronze Medal – 2010 Magnatude
  • Bronze Medal – 2011 Tre Gemmé
  • Bronze Medal – 2010 Zinfandel

The Petite Sirah is crafted using 100% Petite Sirah grapes harvested from the Lodi region of California’s central coast. Because of the area’s terroir, with hot days and cool nights, the grapes are able to mature to near perfection. They are hand-harvested and crushed, then allowed to ferment for approximately seven days before being pressed and barreled in a mix of French and American oak. Bottling takes place in mid-August, and the public is invited to watch.

The 2010 Petite Sirah was also awarded the Gold Medal at the 2013 San Francisco International Wine Competition. At the LA International Wine Competition a 92-point rating was bestowed on the 2010 Syrah, one of the winery’s most popular wines. Magnavino Cellars was also a recent participant in the Ventura County Wine Trail Local Food & Wine Challenge where it served Tuscan Romance, and took first place, with its partner Café Zack.

“We look forward to having more and more people experience Magnavino,” said Wagner. “We love to have true connoisseurs and novices alike come together in our tasting room, share a sample, share a story, and discover our wines.”

Magnavino Cellars currently bottles 17 wines: Beautiful (a white blend), Butterfly Chardonnay, Pinot Gris; Grenache Rosé; and Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Merlot, Old Vine Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Sangiovese, Syrah, and Zinfandel. Red blends include Magnatude, Tre Gemmé, Trifection, and Tuscan Romance. There is also a dessert wine with the appropriate name of Guilty Pleasures.

The winery, located at 961 North Rice Avenue in Oxnard, has a wine club. Its Tuscan-inspired tasting room is open Saturday and Sunday from 11 am to 6 pm.

About Magnavino Cellars

Magnavino Cellars began making wine in 2008. Winemaker Robert Wagner is involved in every aspect of the winery, from sourcing grapes, to shepherding each varietal through crushing, fermenting, pressing, aging and bottling. Each element helps determine a big, bold, beautiful, hand-crafted wine. The winery uses only the most modern winemaking technology, including stainless steel tanks and American and French oak barrels.

Magnavino Cellars has won the following awards:

2012 Riverside International Wine Competition

  • 2009 Syrah – Gold
  • 2009 Zinfandel – Silver

2012 San Francisco International Wine Competition

  • 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon – Silver
  • 2009 Petite Sirah – Silver
  • 2009 Tempranillo – Silver
  • 2009 Syrah – Bronze
  • 2009 Zinfandel – Bronze

2012 LA International Wine Competition

  • 2009 Zinfandel – Gold
  • 2009 Syrah – Silver
  • 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon – Bronze
  • 2009 Petite Sirah – Bronze
  • 2009 Tempranillo – Bronze

2012 West Coast Wine Competition

  • 2009 Sangiovese – Silver
  • 2009 Tempranillo – Silver
  • 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon – Bronze
  • 2009 Petite Sirah – Bronze

2013 Riverside International Wine Competition

  • Cabernet Sauvignon – Silver
  • Magnatude – Silver
  • Old Vine Zinfandel – Silver
  • Syrah – Silver
  • Zinfandel – Silver

2013 LA International Wine Competition

  • Syrah – Gold
  • Petite Sirah – Silver
  • Magnatude – Bronze
  • Old Vine Zinfandel – Bronze

2013 San Francisco International Wine Competition

  • Petite Sirah – Gold
  • Old Vine Zinfandel – Silver
  • Zinfandel – Silver
  • Cabernet Sauvignon – Bronze
  • Sangiovese – Bronze

2013 Critics Challenge International Wine Competition

  • Old Vine Zinfandel – Platinum
  • Magnatude – Silver
  • Petite Sirah – Silver

2014 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

  • 2010 Petite Sirah – Platinum, Best of Class
  • 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon – Gold
  • 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon – Silver
  • 2009 Syrah – Silver
  • 2010 Syrah – Silver
  • 2010 Trifection – Silver
  • 2011 Tuscan Romance – Silver
  • 2010 Old Vine Zinfandel – Silver
  • 2011 Grenache Rose – Bronze
  • 2012 Guilty Pleasures – Bronze
  • 2010 Magnatude – Bronze
  • 2011 Tre Gemme – Bronze
  • 2010 Zinfandel – Bronze

Warm weather and wine: what the drought means for California grapes

This California winter season has been unseasonably warm and even more unseasonably dry. While much of the country has been hit with one raging snow storm and deep freeze after another, California has lived up to its nick name of the Golden State. But not everything is golden here in the land of sunshine. The extreme drought has been ravaging the state’s agriculture and citrus crops. Now it has set its sites on our grapes. Uh oh.

California produces 89 percent of the wine in the United States. We have wineries in the desert areas like Temecula and in the usually lush, green hills and valleys of Napa and Sonoma, in Paso Robles on the central coast, Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez and right here in Oxnard. And all of those areas are experiencing what the US Drought Monitor categorizes as severe, extreme or exceptional drought. Dry conditions in places like Paso Robles, which accounts for 5 percent of California’s total wine production, may reduce grape production by as much as 25 percent in the coming 2014 harvest of late summer/early fall.

The National Weather Service reported that as of the beginning of February, before our big storm that started at the end of the month, Paso Robles, which usually receives an average of 8.34 inches by that time, had only received 1.41 inches. Even Napa Valley had only received 5.64 inches.

One of the reasons California wines are so spectacular is because of when our rainy season occurs. The ground gets good and soaked in the months before the wine vines flourish, bud and produce grapes. Not this year.

What does it all mean? Less water generally means weaker grape vines which can mean a lesser harvest. We’ll still be making wine; we just won’t have as much variety to work with in order to produce it.

And there could be a late winter rain surge like the March Miracle that happened in 2012. There’s talk that some grape growers might resort to rain dancing. In Oxnard, we might join them, as long as there’s a nice wine to accompany the festivities. Cheers!

Can I drink red wine with everything?

It’s the age-old question: does red wine go with virtually every meal? The answer is subjective. There are people who never drink white wine so they would unequivocally answer yes. There are others who believe that the different flavors present in different culinary delights require different wines in order to enhance those flavors.

Most people have a preference and tend to stick with it. People who like whites think that reds are too heavy while those who drink only reds look down at white wine as inferior. It’s not true of course, but perception is often reality.

White wines tend to be lighter and some can be fruitier so people naturally think that drinking a Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinot Gris with a salad is the way to go. But red wines, while heavier in flavor, can also be just fine with a salad. Lighter varietals like Pinot Noir or Barbera can be just as perfect with lighter fare as a Chardonnay.

If you’re still not entirely sold on reds with everything from fish to chicken to lasagna, consider this: Red wines have more studied health benefits than white wine. Because they’re fermented with their skins, they are packed with resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant that can help everything from your skin to your internal organs and even your brain. Resveratrol has been studied for its protective benefits to blood vessels as well as its ability to help eliminate blood clots. It’s also effective for inhibiting certain enzymes that can stimulate the growth of cancer cells, and according to some studies may help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Other antioxidants present in red wine include polyphenols that can help reduce blood pressure and lower cholesterol, and flavonoids.

In a study conducted with 2000 adults, researchers found that red wine drinkers appear to be more relaxed than white wine imbibers. Red wine drinkers tend to be happily married while white wine drinkers are happy to be single with 85 percent saying they’re not looking for a relationship. Red wine drinkers also enjoy spending more money, which is good because certain red varietals can be quite pricy.

According to a recent report from Mintel, 71 percent of wine drinkers choose reds to drink with just about everything. That’s nearly 3 out of 4. Odds are pretty good that if you’re a red wine lover, you’ll find a way to pop the cork on a red that’s compatible with your meal as well as your palette. Cheers!

What is bouquet and can I pick it?

It was founding father and wine lover Thomas Jefferson who said: “By making this wine vine known to the public, I have rendered my country as great a service as if I had enabled it to pay back the national debt.” He traveled frequently to Europe in the days before America gained its independence from the British, and he often brought European wine back with him.

In 1773, Jefferson gave two thousand acres of land adjacent to his home of Monticello to an Italian for the purpose of growing a vineyard. Filippo Mazzei, an Italian viticulturist recommended to Jefferson by fellow founding father Benjamin Franklin, brought grape vines from Italy and in 1774, planted several varietals. Ultimately they didn’t take, but it was one of earliest forays into wine in the United States, and introduced our ancestors to the wonders of the grape. Wonders that included the aroma and thus bouquet of a fine wine.

If you’ve ever wondered about aromas and bouquet when it comes to wine, here’s a little tutorial. A wine’s “bouquet” refers to its aromas, especially those of a mature wine. If someone is referring to what they’re smelling as “bouquet,” it’s usually a positive thing.

Wine aromas are classified three ways:

  • Primary, or those determined by the varietal of type of grape used in the wine
  • Secondary, or those aromas that develop during both the pre-fermentation and fermentation process
  • Tertiary, or those that develop post-fermentation and specifically when the wine is maturing in the barrel as well as when it’s aging in a bottle

Bouquets are personal and universal and can help you decipher a wine’s heritage – barrel or stainless steel aged – as well as whether it’s something you’ll like once you put bouquet to palette. While a wine bouquet isn’t something you can pick, you can bring it to someone’s house for dinner. If it’s a wine lover’s house, it’s the kind of bouquet they’ll prefer, guaranteed.