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THE JEFFERSON CUP

December 27, 2010

Getting to the Heart of Wine
Story and Photos by Seanan Forbes

If you want to find amazing American wines – wines that your competitors don’t have and your patrons will order again and again – then look no further than Kansas City. That’s the location of the Jefferson Cup Invitational. This competition is unique; its founder, Doug Frost, purposefully creates a platform where every American wine-producing region has equal chance to shine. That means you’ll see bottles – exceptional ones, if they’re nominees or winners – you won’t encounter anywhere else.

“Invitational”: the invitations come from Frost, one of three people on the planet to hold both Master of Wine and Master Sommelier. He chooses wines that have proven their excellence. If he hasn’t tasted the specific wines, then he’s had previous vintages. “Importantly,” he says, “it’s about a more level playing field for non-California wines . . . I’m trying to provide a place for Iowa (for instance) to compete fairly against California” or New York or Washington . . . Some years, the winners are surprising.

For the wine industry, having different regions induces improvement across the country – and, Frost notes, “also points out the ones that are really good.”

Frost chooses not only the wines, but also chooses the judges, who are probably more reflective of your guests than those at any other competition. The Jefferson Cup’s judges have been half-female, Frost says, “[For] at least the eight years. I think that’s crucial. I get frustrated by all the wine the competitions where the median age is 65 and there are three women and 34 men . . . It doesn’t make any sense.” This year’s judges included Wayne Belding (a Colorado wine merchant, past chairman of the Court of Master Sommeliers www.mastersommeliers.org), Laura dePasquale (a Master Sommelier), Continue Reading…