When the late Barbara Adams, former Executive Director of the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, came up with the idea of the Golden Nose Award, her goal was always for it to encompass all of the Finger Lakes Wine Trails, according to Shannon Brock, Wine Coordinator at the New York Wine & Culinary Center.

During the competition, judges typically taste between 25 and 30 different wines

In the first years, it was primarily the wineries of the Seneca Lake Wine Trail that participated. After the event went on hiatus for one year, the New York Wine and Culinary Center took it over in 2010, and the dream of a regional event came true.

The Golden Nose Award is an annual event designed to give wine enthusiasts an opportunity to learn about wines at the elbows of some of the region’s finest winemakers. After an intensive session where participants are taught the “ins and outs” of tasting, spitting and assessing wine, the newly-trained   judges will be separated into panels of four or five individuals and paired with a pro. Each panel then evaluates 25 to 30 wines.   This year, over 200 wines will be showcased representing all four Finger Lakes Wine Trails. This is the only consumer contest of this sort on the entire East Coast.

The event “officially” starts with an informal social on Friday, June 3 with a Golden Nose Meet-and-Greet kitchen social from 7 – 9 p.m.  Saturday morning kicks off with registration, continental breakfast, then the following schedule:

9:00-9:30am: Judge Welcome and Introduction to Judging Session
9:30-11:20am: Judge Training
11:20am-12:00pm: Buffet Lunch
12:00pm-4:00pm: Golden Nose Competition
4:00pm-5:00pm: Riesling Champion Judging
7:00pm-9:00pm: Golden Nose Award Celebration

“One of the first sessions will be on wine spitting,” shared Shannon Brock. “Most people aren’t very comfortable with it at first, but if you’re tasting as many as 25 wines, you better learn how to spit!” she laughed.

New judges are paired with seasoned pros to assess the wines, and majority rules!

During the wine tasting, the judges will select first, second and third place in multiple categories.  Majority opinion rules.

“Most people come in with an idea of what they like,” Shannon explained.  “This event opens their minds and teaches them how to evaluate other types of wine.”

Because the Finger Lakes region is so well known for its Riesling, there is a  separate award for Rieslings, and most wineries would love to win the coveted first place award in this category.  In 2010, it was Thirsty Owl Wine Company that walked away with the Gold Golden Nose Award in the Riesling Category.

The fee for the entire event, including the Meet-and-Greet Kitchen Social, the training, lunch, dinner and the tastings is $250. The New York Wine and Culinary Center has been able to expand the number of judges over last year’s number, but as of this post, there are only 16 “Beginning Judge” seats left, and 19 “Returning Judge” seats, so if you’re interested, better sign up quickly!

The New York Wine and Culinary Center is located at 800 South Main Street in Canandaigua.  For participants coming in from out-of-town who need lodging, there are plenty of nearby hotel, motel and B&B accommodations.

P.S. If you’d like to join in the award celebration on Saturday night, tickets are $ 40 and may be purchased online.