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  • Photo courtesy of KKCO 11 News

    Photo courtesy of KKCO 11 News.

  • Photo courtesy of KKCO 11 News

    Photo courtesy of KKCO 11 News.

Program standout makes history with unprecedented back-to-back awards

WCCC students crushed the competition during the world’s largest international amateur wine competition. The international prowess of WCCC’s Viticulture and Enology program continues to grow with students and instructors capturing nine medals that also included the coveted Winemaker of the Year award and the Grand Champion award. 

“Kathy Ondrus is helping put our program and wines on the map with huge international victories over competition from more than 50 states, five Canadian provinces and six countries,” said WCCC Instructor of Viticulture and Enology Jenne Baldwin-Eaton. “Winning Winemaker of the Year once is an honor, twice back-to-back is unheard of, pairing it with the Grand Champion Award is history making.” 

With more than 2,300 wines were entered into the competition Ondrus won eleven medals in total with nine specific to her entries. 

Gold Medals:

  •            2017 Aromella
  •            2017 Brianna
  •            2018 New York Black Muscat
  •            100% Gewurtztraminer Ice Wine
  •            100% Semillon Ice Wine 

 Silver Medals:

  •            2018 Sauvignon Blanc Ice Wine
  •            2018 Muscat Canelli Ice Wine 

  Bronze Medals:

  •           100% Colorado Sauvignon Blanc
  •           100% Colorado Crimson Cabernet

In addition to Ondrus three other students won a total of four additional medals.

Doug Foley received a bronze medal for his 2017 Chambourcin Blend

Lee LaNoue received a silver medal for his 2018 Marachel Foch and a bronze medal for his 2018 New York Muscat

Skylar Upshaw received a silver medal for his 2019 Sauvignon Blanc 

The competition occurred at the Mount Snow Resort in West Dover, Vermont, throughout the course of three days. 

The Palisade Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Andrew Weber explained that local winemakers leaving their mark on the international competition provides a broader benefit to the entire wine and viticulture community of the Grand Valley. 

“Palisade is home to three quarters of the state’s premium wine grape vineyards,” said Weber. “When the WCCC program produces these kinds of vintages and winemakers we all benefit from the reputation our community garners as a result of the international awards and commendations.” 

Judges worked through almost 500 flights of wine using the UC-Davis 20-point scale. The scale takes a look at appearance, smell, taste, aftertaste and general impressions. 

The winemaker of the year award was given to Ondrus after she achieved the highest average score across all categories in the competition. 

“The program is among the crown jewels of WCCC and our college is in the midst of creating a new vintage of local winemaking artisans who will advance viticulture and enology in Colorado for a generation to come,” said Vice President of Community College Affairs Brigitte Sundermann. 

The WCCC viticulture and enology program community advisory board is currently seeking community support for scholarships, sponsorships and programmatic investments. Visit this webpage for more information about the program, or student and instructor awards. 

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Written by David Ludlam