How much emphasis should you place on earning awards or scoring highly?
As with most things, it depends on whom you ask.
Ever curious ourselves, Vintner Magazine put that question out there and received feedback from a pair of wineries located on opposite sides of the United States whose management teams say they’re nice to have, but not as essential as one might think.
Renae Perry, CEO and Co-Owner of Papapietro Perry Winery, says she believes numerical scores are less important these days due to wine drinkers seeking out guidance that is more anecdotal.
Papapietro routinely scores well, but Perry said she doesn’t believe numbers tell the whole story and thinks many agree with that impression.
“I think people look to their friends and ‘wine enthusiasts’ to recommend favorites,” she said.
She also said she wishes scores were only published in such a way to help wineries rather than hurt them.
“Great scores are good for marketing,” she said. “I wish that bad scores were not published because they only hurt a business. Scores in general are one person’s opinion and wine quality is very subjective.
“I think it hurts everyone’s business to receive lower scores. Why would anyone want to do that?”
As for entering competitions to receive awards, Perry said being selective was a good move.
They’re nice to have, but not an extremely high priority for her winery, she said, but consumers react well to seeing a winery market their awards.
“I also prefer to participate in competitions that only post the most positive awards, such as gold medals and above,” she added.
Winemaker and co-owner Ben Papapietro said earning awards shows winemakers they’re on the right track.
“From the beginning, I want to show consistency from year to year, and if you look at the awards they reflect that — it is consistent year in and year out,” he explained. “From winning at ‘Pigs and Pinot’ to ‘Pinot on the River,’ we have consistently won awards year in and year out.
Alice Falcone, marketing manager of Lieb Cellars and Bridge Lane Wine, said the staff submits its wines for judging to Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast and Wine Advocate either yearly or when submissions are requested. Good scores are shared with customers, but she said they prefer to let their customers draw their own conclusions about their wine.
For awards, they like submitting to the New York Wine Classic and format-specific competitions such as the International Canned Wine Competition.
“While we are thrilled to receive awards from these organizations and advertise to our customers when we do, it is not our top priority,” she said.