Despite all the COVID confusion, dire pandemic predictions and potential local lockdowns, the 38th Cowra Wine Show (CWS) and sixth Australian Single Vineyard Wine Show (SVWS) took place last week at the Cowra Showground Pavilion.
Thirteen of Australia's top wine judges sniffed and sipped their way through 930 wines, sourced from 150 wineries from every state in Australia.
CWS and SVWS chairman, Michael Flannery said the size and structure of the showground pavilion meant that all COVID protocols could be followed for the judging, however changes had to be made for other events.
"As advertised, we have had to cancel the very popular Public Tasting and the Wine Show Presentation Dinner," he said.
"The Public Tasting has been postponed until Saturday, November 20 and all wines have been stored in cold storage until that date, when, COVID restrictions allowing, they will be returned to the showground pavilion, for sampling by the public."
The two Chief Wine Judges for 2021, Gwyn Olsen from Pepper Tree Wines in the Hunter Valley and Russell Coady from Calabria at Griffith, spoke very highly of the standard of the wines entered.
In the CWS, 233 wines from the 608 entered, or 30.75 per cent won medals, while in the SVWS, 178 wines from the 325 entered, or 54.7 per cent, won either a gold, silver or bronze medal.
"Statistics that do show the high quality of the wines entered," Mr Flannery said.
"Wine Show judging is not a race, like the Olympics, where the wine judged to be the best comes first, the next best second and so forth.
"In fact all wines that are judged to have reached a certain standard and have been allocated a minimum 95 points out of 100 are deemed to be gold medal winners, with the top gold being judged against other top golds from other similar wine classes for a trophy, decided in the final days of judging.
"All wines allocated 90 to 94 points are deemed to be a silver medal standard and all wines allocated points between 85 to 89, are said to be of a bronze Medal standard."
Mr Flannery said wine judging is a subjective appraisal, by the expert judges, of each of the wines.
"They are guided by their experience and knowledge of what a good wine, as entered in each class, should taste like," he said.
"Individual palates however mean that we will all not agree with the judge's decisions.
"For example, the judges may down-point a wine in a Chardonnay class for being "over-oaked", a perceived wine making fault, where the oak barrel-flavour dominates the natural flavour of the Chardonnay grape.
"However, your palate might say, I love that "oakiness", and that is fine, because you the consumer are the ones who buy the wine that you like.
Paul Smith, the shows' Chief Wine Steward leads a team of approximately 30 volunteers who do all the organising, collating, cooking, cleaning, pouring and cork-popping.
"Cowra Wine Show is regarded as one of the best run wine shows in Australia," Mr Flannery said.
"It is renown in the industry for many reasons, from its scones at morning tea, to its organisational accuracy and efficiency.
"Full credit for this must go to the army of local volunteers, too numerous to mention here, who willingly and cheerfully do all this work. For this, I sincerely thank you all."
Mr Flannery said the CWS is on the lookout for younger volunteers.
"The average age of the committee is however in the late 70s, so for the Wine Shows to continue into the future, we do urgently need some young workers who are keen to have a go and learn a lot about wine at the same time," he said.
"No experience is necessary, as we'll train you on the job. Just contact us as we'd be delighted to have you come along."