Management of the California State Fair announced that they have appointed two prominent professionals within the wine industry to serve as Chief Judges of the 2013 Commercial Wine Competition. Mike Dunne and Rick Kushman, both award winning journalists, will work in tandem to oversee the judging of this prestigious competition which attracts nearly 700 California wineries who submit close to 3,000 entries each year.
Dunne is a contributing wine columnist with the Sacramento Bee, has served on the California State Fair Wine Advisory Task Force and as a competition judge since 1993. Additionally, after 30 years as a writer in the features department of The Sacramento Bee, Mike Dunne retired in late 2008 as restaurant critic, wine columnist and food editor. During his tenure at The Bee he joined the wine-competition circuit as a judge and he continues to sit on panels throughout the year. Nevertheless, he's been a frequent critic of commercial wine competitions and feels that their reliability, relevance and impact for both vintners and consumers can be enhanced. Therefore, when he was invited to be one of the two new chief judges for the California State Fair's commercial wine competition he readily agreed, hoping that he can have a hand in raising the stature and significance of the most historic commercial wine judging devoted exclusively to the state's wines.
"Since its revival three decades ago, the California State Fair commercial wine competition has steadily raised its value to consumers and the trade by creating categories and awards that recognize the state's widespread and diverse wine regions and styles of wine. For judges, it draws from a pool of experienced and enthusiastic people with a varied grounding in wine, from longtime winemakers to avid consumers. With Rick Kushman, I hope to continue to attract judges who are excited about California wine, approach it with an open mind, and reward appropriately examples that speak to quality, value and variety."
Kushman is an award-winning journalist and former columnist for The Sacramento Bee, where he covered politics, was national TV critic, and wrote about wine and food. He currently is vice president for communications and wine relations for Infuze Marketing in Sacramento and continues to write and speak about wine and food in regional and nation media. Rick earned his Certified Wine Professional credential from the Culinary Institute of America. About the State Fair contest, Kushman states, "this competition is such an outstanding and important piece of the California wine scene and the industry. I'm thrilled to be offered the opportunity to help with something that means so much to so many people."
First held in 1855, the State Fair's wine competition is the oldest and most prestigiously judged wine event in North America. Dunne and Kushman who have combined experience in the wine arena will be joined by 72 knowledgeable wine judges for the competition which will be held at Cal Expo June 5, 6 and 7, 2013. This competition is the only professional wine judging in the U.S. that tests judges before they are permitted to evaluate the wines.